Civil society

Access Info Europe releases report on EU transparency

On 21 March of this year, Access Info Europe, a Madrid-based advocacy organisation favouring greater access for citizen to government information, published a report on the state of play in the EU’s transparency policy.

In their report, AIE had wanted to list the positions of all of the EU’s 27 member state governments in the ongoing reform talks of the current access to documents legislation (regulation 1049/2001/ec). However, the researchers gradually concluded that 16 out of 27 member states refused to put forward a position on this matter. A large part of the report is therefore devoted to the application procedures that the researchers went through, as well to the patchwork interpretation of various of the EU’s member states. It makes for insightful, interesting reading on the current state of affairs when it comes to implementing regulation 1049.

The full report can be downloaded here. Click here if you want to find out more about AIE’s mission and strategy. –MH


Transparency Word Cloud

The image above is a word cloud of terms related to transparency.

It is taken from a Danish blog concerned with communication through social media. In the blog post, an impression is given of what transparency might entail in the context of corporate organisations. A Swedish organisation anthropologist did research into this upcoming organisation paradigm.

Interestingly, the word cloud of associations could apply just as well to the area government transparency, where issues such as accountability, integrity, and responsibility have for some time now been conceptualised as deriving from it.

Click here to read the blog entry. -MH


Public Matters: Government Transparency

This year, the Utrecht School of Governance (USG) celebrates its tenth anniversary. As part of the festive programme which has been taking place throughout 2010, the USG will hold a conference synthesising past interests and achievements of the department, while also looking into future fields of research. All of this will take place on Friday 19 and Saturday 20 November of this year, under the suitable and multi-interpretable name of “Public Matters”.

The Open Government in the EU project will also be represented at this conference, organising a workshop on “Government Transparency”.  At this workshop, the ongoing transparency research at Utrecht University and other Dutch universities will be presented. Moreover, three renowned international academics in the field of transparency research have been invited to present papers on their recent research work in this field.


Introductory Paper at Porto Yields New Insights

The Open Government in the EU group presented a research agenda at the 5th ECPR Conference, which took place in Porto from 23 to 26 June.

Prof. Deirdre Curtin of the research team presented a paper entitled “Studying Open Government in the EU: From Normative Debates to Empirical Fact-Finding” in the conference session entitled Public Opinion, Party Politics and Interest Intermediation. This paper puts forward a conceptual framework for assessing transparency and participation in the European Union, and subsequently proposes areas of empirical verification. Dr. Arndt Wonka (Bremen University) was discussant.

The article received both positive appraisal and critical remarks, both of which the research team gladly takes note of. Dr. Gijs Jan Brandsma considers the distinction between normative debates and empirical research of great importance, and proposes to bring it even more to the fore. He points out that investigating the state of openness in the EU does not necessarily have to originate from any particular normative position. Professor Curtin, in turn, proposes that research in the field of transparency and participation should be seen in the wider debate of facilitating accountability of the European institutions. With the encouraging feedback in mind, the research group will continue to develop and fine-tune its conceptual work.

Click here to access the conference paper.