Last Monday, 13 September 2017, EU Commission President Juncker held his annual state of the Union speech in which he laid out his vision and priorities for the EU in the coming period. Calls for and responses to greater transparency are a recurrent theme in discussions on how to improve the EU.
Within 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”.
In 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.