Posts Tagged ‘2014’

Transparency news reports September-December 2014

Monday, January 19th, 2015

Schermafdruk 2015-01-19 11.45.40

Since after the summer of 2014, the Open Government in the EU blog is keeping a regularly updated overview of news reports related to transparency and access to documents in the context of the EU. News reports are collected through quick scans on Google news and the most relevant websites.

While this news scan is in no way exhaustive or fully systematic, it does provide a nice overview of the direction that the transparency debate is taking over a period of months. The aim is therefore to present to our readers, next to the news roll on the right side of the blog, a three-monthly overview of all reports collected, beginning with the final months of 2014. Suggestions for additions or current news are warmly welcomed, via the twitter account @MZHillebrandt.

See also the news report digests for 2018, 2017, 2016,  2015 (first quarter, second quarter and second half). –MH (more…)

Happy holidays

Friday, December 19th, 2014

The Open Gbook page and epsom salt ornamentovernment in the EU blog wishes its readers happy holidays and a clear vision in 2015!




2015 Global Conference on Transparency Research website opened

Wednesday, December 3rd, 2014

universitaThe fourth Global Conference on Transparency Research will take place in Lugano from 4 to 6 June 2015. A conference website with all necessary information has recently been opened.


The GCTR is a conference that assembles leading academics, policy makers, and interest group representatives to “discuss current policies on access to information, transparency relationships among government entities, transparency dynamics between public and private and non-profit entities.” Previous editions have seen transparency research in contexts as diverse as the United States, the European Union, South Korea, and Kenia. The first global transparency conference was held in Newark in 2011. Prof. Albert Meijer of the Open Government in the EU team hosted the conference at Utrecht University in 2012, while the third conference was held in at the HEC in Paris (2013).

Deadline for submissions is 15 February 2015.

Website of the Fourth Global Conference on Transparency Research

Commission moves towards greater lobbying transparency

Monday, November 24th, 2014

B2371j8CMAAd-pWWithin a month in office, the incoming Juncker Commission announces its first tangible steps to increase disclosure relating to its lobbying contacts.

In an interesting move, Commissioner Timmermans (Better Regulation) two weeks ago circulated an internal note, which was soon leaked to the press, explaining the pending change. The note argued that “while contact with stakeholders is a natural and important part of the work of a member of the Commission, all such contacts should be conducted with transparency and members of the Commission should seek to ensure an appropriate balance and representativeness in the stakeholders they meet.”

As a consequence of this line, the 28 members of the Commission will be required to disclose on their websites all contacts with lobbyists as of 1 December. The EUObserver quoted Timmermans saying: “I think we have moved to a situation now where the public says to government ‘show me!’ And we want to show you”.


Discussing the space to think in the context of the European Council

Thursday, November 20th, 2014

ceulogo_0_1Does transparency come at the expensive of efficient decision-making? The case for a trade-off between and open and efficient decision-making has certainly been made on innumerable occasions. But whether it is in fact well grounded has, surprisingly, been subjected to rather limited systematic scrutiny.

Political scientist Stéphanie Novak (Université Catholique en Lille) and Open Government in the EU researcher Maarten Hillebrandt (University of Amsterdam) have now begun to systematically explore the case for a non-transparent “space to think” that is systematically invoked by the European Council, and Council – purportedly in order to safeguard the efficiency of their respective decision-making processes. They will present a paper on this topic at a workshop on the centrality of European Council and Council decision-making organised by the Central European University, Budapest.

The European Council has increasingly come to the fore as a constitutionally anomalous yet powerful executive institution of the European Union. This has aroused an increasing interest from the social scientific and legal researchers, among them the researchers of the Open Government in the EU research group, who investigate its transparency and accountability arrangements (see more under publications). -MH

Presentations on Open Government

Tuesday, October 21st, 2014

Team members of the Open Government in the EU research group recently presented their view of openness and secrecy in the EU institutions in presentations held in Berlin and Brussels.

On Sunday 19 October, professor Deirdre Curtin entered into a dialogue with Carolin Emcke in a public event entitled “Keine Demokratie. Nirgends?“. The dialogue concerned issues of openness and mistrust of European decision making, and took place in the context of Curtin’s research stay at the Wissenschaftkolleg zu Berlin during the academic year 2014-2015.

On Monday 20 October, Maarten Hillebrandt gave a presentation at an ERA conference on access to documents. The presentation addressed recent experiences with regulation 1049/2001 in practice in the EU’s core institutions. The Europaïsche Rechtsakademie (ERA) offers regular seminars on specific areas of European law for practitioners inside and outside of the European institutions.

Council declassifies TTIP negotiating mandate

Monday, October 13th, 2014

cooperating-governements_usa_regulating_flagsNearly a year and a half after its drafting, on 9 October 2014, the Council declassified and disclose the Commission’s negotiating mandate for the free trade talks with the United States better known as the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP).

Maarten Hillebrandt

The disclosure comes after much public controversy that accompanied the various rounds of talks that have taken place up until now, in spite of the document being leaked at an early stage. Various MEPs, the European Ombudsman, and outgoing Commissioner for trade De Gucht criticised the Council for keeping it under the fold. In its annual transparency report, the EP renewed its pledge to do all in its power to “ensure that future trade negotiations, and in particular the on-going negotiations with the US […] were more transparent and open for stakeholder involvement” (p. 12). The decision to disclose the document at long last has been met with praise by various actors.


Incoming Commission Vice-President Timmermans calls for more transparency

Wednesday, October 8th, 2014

timmermansnw208In his hearing before the European Parliament yesterday, incoming Commission Vice-President Frans Timmermans pledged to introduce a change of culture into the EU’s decision making. This, he argued, includes much broader transparency than has been the case up until now.

Maarten Hillebrandt

The European Parliament, as well as the Brussels-based press corps, responded very positively to the eloquent polyglot, former Minister of Foreign Affairs, and one-time Minister of European Affairs. Timmermans answered questions from MEPs in Dutch, English, French, German, and Italian, and didn’t miss a chance to apologise for not speaking Polish and praising Poland for liberating his father’s home town at the end of the Second World War. According to expectation, Timmermans was approved for the position of First Vice-President and Commissioner for Better Regulation, European Human Rights hours after the hearing.

More interestingly for the readers of this blog, Timmermans capitalised on the need for the EU to bring its decision making closer to citizens. (more…)

European Ombudsman calls for “revolving doors” register

Thursday, October 2nd, 2014

[In Dutch, translation here]

EU-Ombudsman dringt aan op draaideur-register

25 september 2014

img_3227_emily_oreillyDe instellingen van de Europese Unie moeten meer openheid geven over de besluitvorming en over onderhandelingen over handelsovereenkomsten, maar vooral over de uitstroom van Unie-ambtenaren naar de private sector. Dat stelde EU-Ombudsman Emily O’Reilly onlangs bij de presentatie van het jaarrapport 2013.

De Europese Ombudsman onderzoekt klachten over ‘wanbeheer’ bij de instellingen en organen van de Europese Unie. Hierbij valt te denken aan bestuurlijke onregelmatigheden, oneerlijkheid, discriminatie, machtsmisbruik, het uitblijven van een antwoord, de weigering gegevens mede te delen en onnodige vertragingen. Iedere burger van de EU en alle in de EU gevestigde organisaties kunnen een klacht indienen. De Europese Ombudsman kent ook de bevoegdheid om op eigen initiatief onderzoeken in te stellen. De aanbevelingen van de Ombudsman zijn niet bindend, maar oefenen wel druk uit op de betrokken instellingen. De Europese Ombudsman is volledig onafhankelijk (artikel 228 EU-Werkingsverdrag).