The Danish presidency which took over on 1 January, will attempt to make further progress with the embattled transparency dossier.
The Jack of transparency has been out of the box in the EU ever since the Commission presented a proposal to revise the current law on access to documents, in 2008.
Regulation 1049, which was adopted under the Swedish presidency in 2001, has been controversial from the beginning; while the member states presented it as a breakthrough on the divisive issue of transparency, civil rights groups believed it should have gone much further. Gradually, a number of member states have also become disenchanted with its functioning. They complain that the developing case law does not reflect their original legislative intentions. When the EP in 2008 came out in favour of a substantial widening of transparency, polarisation was complete.
After three and a half years of inter-institutional bickering, the EP finally passed its formal position on the proposed law, which puts the ball in the court of the Council. Denmark -a transparency advocate from the first moment- is now set on reaching a “compact compromise” between the EP’s firmly pro-transparent, and a majority of member states’ cautious or even retrogressive attitude. This delicate compromise should not include too many items so as to remain negotiable, and not too few so as not to mean a step backwards – a balancing act of the first order.
The expectation is that the Danish presidency will want to complete the second reading before Cyprus takes over the presidency on 1 July. To this end, it will need all the meeting time that it has scheduled, and some more, to get the largest “hot potatoes” out of the way. To be followed with interest.