Sunday

26th Jan 2020

EU 'must lift lid' on secretive 'deal-making'

  • "Discussions between the co‐legislators behind closed doors risk the creation of public suspicion and uncertainty," ombudsman Emily O'Reilly said. (Photo: Valentina Pop)

European institutions should pro-actively publish information on the secret meetings they hold to discuss legislative proposals, the EU Ombudsman says.

In a report published on Thursday (14 July), ombudsman Emily O'Reilly noted that some parts of EU lawmaking have become more transparent.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or join as a group

"However, discussions between the co‐legislators behind closed doors—without adequate documentation being made publicly available—risk the creation of public suspicion and uncertainty, and may hinder informed debate about its content," she wrote.

The meetings, known as trilogues, have helped to speed up the legislative process at the cost of transparency.

According to the ombudsman, 85 percent of legislation concluded in the last term of parliament (2009-2014) was done through trilogues. Only two terms earlier, that percentage was just 29 percent.

Although some information may be available on the meetings, it is often dispersed and difficult to find.

"This, regrettably, increases the ‘mystique’ of trilogues, discouraging citizens from engagement and thus diminishing their democratic rights," wrote the ombudsman.

A piece of legislation, after being proposed by the European Commission, has to be approved by the European Parliament and the Council of the EU, where member states meet.

But the parliament and council often want to change different parts of the legislation, which means it would take several readings to reach a compromise situation. Instead, they thrash out deals behind closed doors.

O'Reilly called on the European Commission, European Parliament, and Council of the EU to create one common database in which citizens can find dates of the meetings, compromise texts and a list of names of people who took part.

Vietnam sent champagne to MEPs ahead of trade vote

A trade deal with Vietnam sailed through the European Parliament's international trade committee and after its embassy sent MEPs bottles of Moet & Chandon Imperial champagne over Christmas.

News in Brief

  1. Catalan premier refuses to step down, despite ruling
  2. UK set to support new fossil fuel projects in Africa
  3. Leftist MEPs to visit jailed Catalan MEP
  4. Bulgaria may expel Russian diplomats over 'espionage'
  5. EU, China, others agree on WTO body to settle disputes
  6. EU Commission makes move against Poland on judges law
  7. Soros pledges $1bn for liberal universities
  8. Merkel: Germany unprepared for 2015 refugee crisis

This is the (finally) approved European Commission

MEPs gave the green light to the entire new European Commission during the plenary session in Strasbourg - but with the abstention of the Greens and a rejection by the leftist group GUE/NGL.

Magazine

Welcome to the EU engine room

Welcome to the EU engine room: the European Parliament (EP's) 22 committees, which churn out hundreds of new laws and non-binding reports each year and which keep an eye on other European institutions.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of Ministers40 years of experience have proven its point: Sustainable financing actually works
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic and Baltic ministers paving the way for 5G in the region
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersEarmarked paternity leave – an effective way to change norms
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Climate Action Weeks in December
  5. UNESDAUNESDA welcomes Nicholas Hodac as new Director General
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersBrussels welcomes Nordic culture

Latest News

  1. AI must have human oversight, MEPs recommend
  2. Second-hand cars flaw in EU Green Deal
  3. Why do EU arms end up in Libya despite UN ban?
  4. Brexit deal to be signed, as sides poised for tough talks
  5. Timmermans urges EU governments to tax carbon
  6. Vietnam sent champagne to MEPs ahead of trade vote
  7. China spy suspect had EU permission to work as lobbyist
  8. EU to unveil 5G 'toolbox' to tackle security threats

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us