The EP’s two largest political groupings, the EPP (people’s parties) and S&D (social democrats), are keeping the item of public voting in parliamentary committees off the agenda.
Thus reported the EUObserver last week. The proposal entailed a change to the rules of procedure, and would make it compulsory for parliamentary committee’s final votes in legislative procedures to be digitally recorded and made public. The rationale behind this proposal is, inter alia, that many decision-making procedures are barely publicly debated in parliament before they are voted on. Legislative drafts often become directly subject of interinstitutional negotiations between the EU’s two legislative bodies (the EP and the Council), and are discussed in said parliamentary committees, whose meetings frequently take place behind closed doors. The compulsory vote proposal, which has now been put back into drawer, would restore some of the public accountability that is lost in the informal negotiation process.
The EUObserver article quotes an S&D spokesman arguing that a public record of committee votes might be interpreted as fixing the negotiators’ positions, while EPP respresentative Lopez stated that this form of transparency “reduces the margins of negotiations between the political groups”.
Pro-transparency groupings, such as Corporate Europe Observatory, are not impressed by the current political move. They point out that many legislative dossiers nowadays are ironed out at the committee level, and that MEPs voting in these committees should have nothing to hide from the European citizen. –MH