On 29 April, the Brussels-based EU office of international NGO Transparency International launched the first-ever comprehensive integrity report on the European institutions.
The report, which covers most of the European institutions and a number of key agencies and bodies in 246 pages, seeks to provide the state of the art in the EU’s laws and practices with regard to integrity issues. Among other issues of good governance, it traces the rules and practices that are in place with regard to transparency and accountability, both of which are discussed separately for each institution.
One of the key recommendations of the report concerns the need for more extensive transparency in decision-making processes. In particular, Transparency International calls on the three legislative institutions to “publish all documents from each step in the process of drafting legislation. This should include negotiations between the institutions (‘e.g. trialogues’), Commission committees and expert groups, and all levels of the Council. Systematic and timely reporting from these steps should be mandatory.” (p. 15). This position echoes, albeit more explicitly, a judgement by the Court of Justice of the European Union (Council v Access Info Europe), in which it castigated the Council for refusing to disclose the positions of member states in a legislative procedure.
TI’s research time was advised by an external advisory board of experts, which was headed by Prof. Deirdre Curtin of the Open Government in the EU team. Team member and PhD researcher Maarten Hillebrandt provided his view concerning transparency and accountability issues in the Council and the European Council. -MH