Madrid, 18 December 2020 – Access Info Europe today joined Corporate Europe Observatory, Transparência e Integridade and 63 other civil society organisations from across Europe, calling on the incoming Portuguese Presidency of the European Union to push for much needed lobby transparency, accountability and democratic reforms within the Council.
In an open letter sent to the Portuguese Prime Minister, António Costa, the signatories warned of the threat to the rule of law and basic democratic values in several EU countries. They urged the Portuguese Government, which will chair the EU Council for 6 months from 1 January 2021, to make decision-making and lobbying transparent, by ensuring that the public can see how files progress in the Council, the positions of their governments and which quid pro quo deals have been made.
Also, the organisations urged the EU Presidency to call for stronger democracy and that the public interest is a clear priority in tackling its three urgent challenges, which are: the coronavirus pandemic and its health, economic and social consequences; inequality; and the climate crisis.
“At this critical time for European democracy, in the face of a rise of populism and nationalism, it is imperative that the EU Council and Member States are fully open and permit genuine citizen participation”, stated Helen Darbishire, Executive Director of Access Info.
The organisations demand the Portuguese Presidency of the EU Council to:
- Ensure the EU Presidency is not used to champion big business over the public interest. The Portuguese Government must put an end to privileged access for corporate interests and business-only policy consultations, during its EU Presidency and beyond;
- Open up EU decision-making by publishing its proposed positions on new EU laws and policies before they are discussed at Council meetings, to enable scrutiny by citizens and MPs. Citizens should be able to find out about, and have a say on, their government’s decision-making on EU matters;
- Lead by example and provide full lobby transparency of meetings held with lobbyists by the Government, a legislative footprint, and a world class lobby register;
- Reject all forms of sponsorship for its Presidency and any of its activities, and urge fellow EU member states to do likewise in the future.
The full letter is available here