A new article in the open-access journal Politics & Governance by historian Joris Gijsenbergh shows that politicians and officials need to be convinced of the value of transparency. Without a mentality shift, the EU Whistleblower Directive and national legal measures will fail to offer whistleblowers sufficient protection against retaliation. History teaches us that appreciation for open government needs to be cultivated.
A recent article in Politique Européenne by Maarten Hillebrandt (Bielefeld University) deals with the question of the development of transparency policy in the Council of the European Union. The development path of transparency in the Council is often regarded by outsiders with scepticism. After all, before 1992, the EU’s most ‘intergovernmental’ institution was known for its pervasive diplomatic secrecy. According to insiders, twenty-five years on, continuous external pressure would have made the Council considerably more transparent, in spite of all its resistances. This characterisation of a transparency-hostile Council overrun by external ‘transparency forces’ may however be too schematic.
A new article in the latest issue of Politics & Governance deals with the role of transparency in interinstitutional politics. The question of transparency is widely regarded as a thermometer of the relation between the Council of the EU and the public at large. Relatively little attention however has been devoted to the implications of transparency (i.e., access for the general public) for inter-institutional information politics, even when the limited evidence suggests that the connection is considerable. The current publication asks how EU actors use Council transparency as a platform and for what reason. It approaches transparency as a policy that is developed in three arenas: the internal, the external political, and the external judicial arena. The article finds strong evidence in support of the view that the Council’s transparency policy played a central role in EU institutions’ attempt to advance their information ambitions. By strongly engaging with the issue of transparency particularly the European Parliament and its members succeeded at expanding their institutional information basis in an area where their political grip was traditionally at its weakest: the Foreign Affairs Council. Acting in turn as a bargaining chip, a political lever, or an alternative to institutional information, the Foreign Affairs Council’s transparency policy was thus clearly used to advance information agendas of oversight and legislative prerogatives.
The concept of the ‘space to think’ has since long offered an argument to EU decision makers to limit the transparency of decision-making processes. In a new article entitled “‘Integration without transparency’? Reliance on the space to think in the European Council and Council” published in the Journal of European Integration, Maarten Hillebrandt (Bielefeld University) and Stéphanie Novak (UC Lille) explore a tacit but common assumption underlying the EU’s reliance on the ‘space to think’: that it is caused and amplified by the dominance of executive actors.