Posts Tagged ‘reform’

The big lesson after ten years of EU transparency reforms? You will never get it right

Tuesday, January 14th, 2020

By Maarten Hillebrandt

The Lisbon Treaty recently celebrated its tenth anniversary. The Treaty, which laid the fundament for a reformed European Union, entered into force with the promise that European decision making would become more transparent, and therefore more democratic. The tenth birthday makes up a nice moment to consider what has come of these ambitions.

Credit: El País.

On 1 December 2009, the day that the Lisbon Treaty entered into force, the European Commission released a long memo to journalists. What should they expect from the new treaty? To no-one’s surprise, the memo was obligatorily jubilant. As a concrete example of improvement, the Commission mentioned that the treaty would bring “more democracy and transparency”. The attribution of policy competences and the decision-making process, particularly where it concerned legislation, would henceforth be more visible and understandable for the public at large. Would Lisbon finally draw a line under the dragging transparency debate?

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Council of EU undergoing full reorientation on transparency question

Thursday, August 2nd, 2018

On Wednesday 18 July 2018, the committee  of ambassadors of the member states to the EU (Coreper) held an orientational debate about the need for reforms of the Council’s transparency policy, thus Agence Europe reports.

The debate, which appears as the opening move in a further series of discussions about potential changes to the Council’s internal transparency policy, was based on a series of proposals drafted by the Council’s Secretariat. This document discusses possible and necessary changes in the face of new case law and further external pressures.

The proposals include, inter alia, ways to make the legislative process more traceable and ‘readable’, to apply more consistent rules in the drafting of legislative documents, and to centre transparency around “milestones” in the legislative process. Furthermore, it puts forward a plan to ‘normalise’ the publication of member state inputs (statements, proposals for amendments) into legislative debates. Under the current rules, the Council applies a fragmented policy by which member state inputs are sometimes recorded in the official documents, and sometimes not at all. The Council has so far been able to apply this policy since the formal rules do not stipulate how a legislative document is supposed to be drafted.

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Public Consultation on New Dutch FOI Law

Thursday, July 19th, 2012

The European Public Sector Information Platform reports the public consultation round that has opened for the Dutch FOI law.

The Dutch FOIA is generally considered fairly good example of a legal provision allowing citizens access to government information. On RTI-rating.org, an organisation that developed criteria to compare national FOIAs, the Netherlands scores in the top-middle range, along with countries such as Sweden and the UK, and above others like France and Denmark. Its acronym, “WOB” has caught on in journalist jargon even beyond the Netherlands: “wobbing” has become a verb signifying the filing of a request for access, and is today the name of a news website devoted to transparency across the EU.

However, the Dutch FOIA is considered a first-generation access law. Compared to many other countries, it misses some of the more innovative and technology-driven arrangements such as online registers of documents and proactive disclosures. The last revision of the Dutch took place over twenty years ago, in 1991.

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Talks on access regulation collapse; Presidency to try an alternative route

Thursday, June 14th, 2012

Talks on the revision of the European access to documents regulation have collapsed. The Danish presidency has been unable to reconcile the widely diverging views of parties around the table.

Last week, as the Danish presidency presented a compromise proposal, the atmosphere became particularly vicious. The ministers of justice of Sweden and Finland in an open letter stated that “needless to say” they rejected the Danish proposal and called on the EP to do the same. Days later, a Commission spokesman accused “nutty NGOs” of wasting officials’ time, calling on them to “grow up”. This in turn sparked off a response of indignation from transparency NGOs such as Access Info Europe, which is a longstanding advocate for more transparency in the EU. Over the weekend, talks between the Council and the EP collapsed over widely diverging views on what the reformed regulation should look like. Finally yesterday, the Danish presidency announced officially that it will abondon its efforts to promote the compromise draft.

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