Posts Tagged ‘transparency’

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).


European Court of Justice upholds judgement in Access Info Europe appeal

Wednesday, October 23rd, 2013

The Court of Justice of the EU dismisses in full the Council’s appeal against an earlier judgement in the much publicised Access Info Europe case.


Pam_Helen_Council_FinalThe long awaited judgement of the Court of Justice of the EU (CJEU) in the Access Info Europe appeal was finally handed down last week, on 17 October. After losing a case against Access Info Europe (AIE) in front of the lower General Court, the Council appealed. The CJEU now has found that the General Court’s judgement was correct and must therefore be upheld. In total, three separate pleas in law filed by the Council were refuted.


On its website, AIE director Helen Darbishire commented: “If the Council applies this ruling to all similar documents, this would finally provide a similar level of transparency at the EU level as one would normally find in national legislative processes.” On Twitter, AIE spoke in equally superlative terms, saying that it was “More than satisfied! The decision we hope will open the door to a more participatory and transparency EU!” The Council, meanwhile, has not given the case any attention on its news homepage.


Utrecht Dissertation on Transparency in EU Law Awarded Cum Laude

Monday, March 18th, 2013

Anoeska Buijze of the Utrecht Law School defended her doctoral dissertation entitled “The Principle of Transparency in EU Law” at Utrecht’s Academy Building on Friday 15 March. She was awarded cum laude for her considerable efforts at structuring a complex legal concept of EU law.


In her dissertation, Buijze uses a triple concept of the European citizen in order to disentangle the several rationales that underpin transparency at the European level. She recognises the citoyen (the participating citizen in the classical Greek sense), the homo dignus (a rights-bearing individual in the private sphere) and the homo economicus (the individual in pursuit of material welfare). Each of these citizen types, Buijze argues, provides a different rationale for certain types of access to information. She comes to this conclusion through a detailed analysis of a number of fields of law (public access to information, public procurement, electronic communications law, and state aid).  


Transatlantic Conference on Transparency Research a huge success

Wednesday, June 13th, 2012

On 8 and 9 June the Transatlantic Conference on Transparency Research (TCTR) was held in Utrecht, the Netherlands. It was organised by members of the Open Government in the EU research group Albert Meijer and Deirdre Curtin. Researchers came from four continents and presented over 50 papers on all sorts of transparency related issues, ranging from transparency in the EU, to conceptualisation, to accountability, to developing countries. Attendants came from various disciplines, among them public administration, law, political science, psychology, as well as from various professional backgrounds such as the European Ombudsman’s office, the civil service, and NGOs. Keynote addresses were given by the European Ombudsman, Mr. Diamandouros, and prof. Paul ‘t Hart of the Utrecht School of Governance.

In his concluding address, Alasdair Roberts compared the emerging transparency community to his own children: it is now in the age where it starts talking back to you intelligently, but does not yet refuse to talk to you. In other words, transparency as a research field is going through an intellectually exciting time.

Held around a year after the transparency conference in Newark, Utrecht’s TCTR was the second international conference on transparency. The research community hopes to make this a regularly returning event, and invites all members to consider hosting a follow-up. –MH

All papers can be found here. News coverage from Freedom Info can be found here.

Dutch General Accounting Office: More Openness about EU’s Expenditures

Thursday, February 9th, 2012

The ongoing financial crisis in the Eurozone may not only have the effect of furthering integration, embodied in a Commissioner for national budgets. Dutch news website reports that the Dutch General Accounting Office has called for more openness about expenditure of European funds.

According to the body which controls government expenditure, expenditure in the EU has been falling short of accountability standards for years. Although 90% of European funds (particularly CAP money) are spent by the member states, transparency about the process is required. At the moment however, only four EU members provide such transparency: Denmark, the Netherlands, Sweden, and the United Kingdom.

Read more on the Accounting Office’s special website on EU accountability (in Dutch).

Dutch Access to Documents (WOB) Controversy

Thursday, June 9th, 2011

Not only in the EU is a debate (or should we say, battle) still ongoing over the meaning and usefulness of transparency. Also in the Netherlands has a member of government sought to reopen a fundamental discussion on the current WOB-regime.

WOB is the Dutch equivalent of FOI and comes from the Dutch term Wet Openbaarheid van Bestuur (Law of Administrative Openness). A recent series of public statements made by the Dutch Minister for Home Affairs Donner suggest that the Dutch Government might consider rolling back the current arrangements. (more…)

Public Matters: Government Transparency

Friday, September 3rd, 2010

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. (more…)

Introductory Paper at Porto Yields New Insights

Tuesday, July 20th, 2010

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.

First Post on the Project Webpage

Wednesday, April 14th, 2010

Sunshine is the best disinfectant. US Justice Brandeis