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About Open Government in the EU

Open Government in the EU blog…

…reflects on news, research, and debates around transparency and access in the EU;

…actively monitors academic, policy and media debates on these topics;

…provides you with the latest insights of researchers connected to the TrUE project at the University of Helsinki.

Contact

Would you like to find out more about our work or would you like to contribute to the Open Government in the EU blog? Please do not hesitate to get in touch and send an email to dr. Maarten Hillebrandt (maarten.hillebrandt[at]helsinki.fi).

See here for a list of previous contributors.

Please note that none of the contributions on the Open Government in the EU blog may be reproduced without explicit consent from the editor.

Professor Leino-Sandberg chairing one of the panels sessions at a transparency policy event in Brussels, co-hosted by the Finnish presidency and the University of Helsinki in September 2019.

About the research group

Utrecht, Amsterdam, Helsinki A research group studying the role of transparency policy in the context of the EU first emerged in Utrecht in 2010, then shifted to Amsterdam, and later to Helsinki, under changing project names and with a shifting composition of researchers.

The Open Government in the European Union project, based at Utrecht University’s School of Governance (USG) and the Amsterdam Centre of European Law and Governance (ACELG), ran from 2010 to 2017 and sought to address the legal and administrative strategies for the promotion of open government in the European Union. The project was led by prof. Deirdre Curtin and by prof. Albert Meijer.

In 2017, much of the project’s core research agenda was taken over by the University of Helsinki’s Eric Castrén Institute, where prof. Päivi Leino launched the Academy of Finland-funded project Transparency in the EU – From Reaction to Manifesto. This project runs until 2021.

Since 2010, the researchers involved in these two projects have produced a sizeable corpus of publications that build on research approaches from the fields of law, political science, public administration and other social sciences. Moreover, over the years, the projects have (co-)organised several workshops and conferences, and contributed to numerous meetings and publications both for practitioner and general audiences.

Guest speaker Swedish Minister Johansson of Justice and Migration acknowledges the Open Government in the EU blog, May 2021.

Some background to the research topic and project

Openness has long been considered a hallmark of democratic government. Openness provides the basis for active citizenship and thus is highlighted in pluralistic, discursive and participatory theories of democracy. The basic idea is that government should strive not to conduct its business secretly, behind closed doors but rather out in the open. As US Supreme Court Justice Brandeis once put it: “Sunshine is the best of disinfectants”. More recently, former EU Court Judge Dehousse described intransparency as “the best protection one could imagine for bad administration”.

Gradually, the EU has been developing a set of administrative and legal instruments and practices to guarantee transparency of and access to decision-making. With the entering into force of the Lisbon Treaty, the open, participative democratic model of government has gained a prominent place in the EU’s legal framework.

The fact that openness is highly valued in political theory however does not mean that it is taken for granted in political processes, or that it always provides for efficient governance or desirable outcomes. To establish any of these claims and to identify the most expedient manner in which transparency should be implemented, the dual concepts of transparency and access must be sufficiently investigated.

This website tracks the research work conducted by the TrUE Helsinki research group, which studies these issues through doctrinal, empirical, and theoretical analyses tracing the law and practice of transparency and access policy in the European institutional and democratic order.