Madrid, 3 January 2018 – Access Info has recommended that the Council of the European Union significantly increase transparency of the legislative process, in particular by providing the public with details on the positions that EU Member States take in negotiations on legislation.

These recommendations were submitted to the European Ombudsman’s consultation held as part of her enquiry into transparency of the Council, which is based in large part on the case of Council v. Access Info Europe, won by Access Info on 17 October 2013, in which the Court of Justice of the EU established the right of the public to access documents containing the names of Member States putting forward legislative proposals, even at early stages of debate.

In its responses to the European Ombudsman’s consultation questions, Access Info has drawn on the findings of its recent decision-making transparency project, which point to the need for specific rules on record keeping, including the need for more detailed minutes of meetings. In the case of the Council, this should include a requirement to record the names of Member States so that there is accountability of the positions a government takes and the proposals that it puts forward.

Transparency of Member State positions is essential to avoid the phenomenon of ‘policy laundering’ where national governments blame Brussels for decisions that in fact they have taken, with the consequence of undermining trust in the EU,” stated Helen Darbishire, Executive Director of Access Info Europe.

Access Info’s submission to the European Ombudsman also identified the problem of the over-broad classification of documents as “LIMITE” – meaning they are not accessible to the public, and not even to parliamentarians in all countries, hence undermining long-established accountability mechanisms.

Access Info has called for a revision of this policy, along with other recommendations, including that the Council should:
» Gather better data on how the current transparency system is working and make this public so that there can be more informed discussions;
» Work with the other institutions, in particular the European Parliament, to develop an integrated system for transparency of the entire legislative;
» Join the Transparency Register to ensure full transparency of any lobbying activity directed at the Council and designed to influence legislative processes.

The full submission to the European Ombudsman public consultation, sent on 31 December 2017, can be found here: file_doc alt

For more information, please contact:

Luisa Izuzquiza, Communications Officer | Access Info Europe
Helen Darbishire, Executive Director | Access Info Europe

Send an e-mail or call +34 913 656 558

Photo: European Council via Flickr (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)