Saturday

16th Nov 2019

MPs demand Council become more transparent

  • Centeno (l) will receive a set of recommendations on how to improve transparency (Photo: Council of the EU)

Three Dutch MPs will demand more transparency from the Council of the EU – where national governments meet – on Monday (19 February), on behalf of 26 European chambers of parliament.

They will present Mario Centeno, head of the Eurogroup, with a set of recommendations encased in glass – symbolising that they feel the council should move from being a 'black box' to a glass box.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 year's of archives. 30-day free trial.

... or join as a group

"Tusk did not have time, but Centeno did," said centre-right Dutch MP Pieter Omtzigt when EUobserver asked why the recommendations were not presented to the president of the European Council, Donald Tusk.

Tusk is likely to be busy with the preparations of Friday's summit.

As leader of the informal body of eurozone finance ministers, Centeno is an important figure.

"The Eurogroup is the most opaque of them all," said Omtzigt, who co-authored the paper Opening up closed doors: Making the EU more transparent for its citizens.

The paper lists four recommendations: systematically publishing documents related to legislative deliberations; adopting more specific, detailed rules on those deliberations; formalising informal bodies like the Eurogroup; and reopening talks on the EU's access to documents regulation.

"Transparency is essential to making democracy meaningful. Without transparency, there can be no public space in which citizens, stakeholders and media can deliberate and thus participate in decision-making," the paper said.

"Members of national parliaments have insufficient access to documents and voting records, including informal voting records, to be able to oversee and scrutinize their governments' actions," it added.

Omtzigt will present the recommendations to Centeno with two fellow Dutch MPs – left-wing Renske Leijten and Martin van Rooijen of a senior citizens' party.

The recommendations were laid out in a letter signed on behalf of 26 national parliaments from 20 member states – there are some 41 houses of parliament in the 28 EU member states, since several have bicameral systems.

Support came from all corners of the EU, including some founding member states, as well as central eastern European countries that joined more recently.

Omtzigt noted that if member states were missing it was more because MPs did not have the mandate to commit support, or he had been unable to meet with them.

The Dutch MP had organised the support among members from the Conference of Parliamentary Committees for Union Affairs of Parliaments of the European Union (Cosac).

Time is up

His colleague Leijten said in a press release that it was the first time that national parliaments worked together like this to try and push the council for more transparency.

"The time that the council can ignore its own transparency rules is over," she declared.

Her parliament's attorney last year declared that the council's practice of making documents confidential by default was unlawful.

"The national parliaments are now very clearly demanding more transparency," Leijten added.

The meeting in Brussels with Centeno comes just six days after the European Ombudsman called on the council to increase transparency.

"Her recommendations were exactly in line with what we wanted," said MP Omtzigt.

EU ombudsman asks Tusk for more transparency

Emily O'Reilly wants the European Council president to ask the council to join the transparency register, publish information on meetings with lobbyists and publish more notes on the EU leaders' work.

News in Brief

  1. Catalan politicians extradition hearing postponed
  2. Germany: EU banking union deal possible in December
  3. EIB: no more funding of fossil-fuel projects
  4. UK defence chief: Russia could trigger World War III
  5. Hungary's Varhelyi will face more questions
  6. Police put former Berlusconi MEP Comi under house arrest
  7. MEPs criticise Poland for criminalising sex education
  8. UK will not name new commissioner before election

Column

These are the crunch issues for the 2019-2024 EU commission

These developments will largely determine who will be running the world in the coming decades and perhaps generations. If the Europeans can't find an answer over the five years, they will be toast. And we haven't even mentioned climate change.

EP president threatens MEP with sanctions over a tweet

The president of the European parliament, David Sassoli, has threatened the leader the leftist GUE/NGL group, Manon Aubry, over a tweet in which she encouraged the eco-activist group Extinction Rebellion to occupy the European parliament.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersEarmarked paternity leave – an effective way to change norms
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Climate Action Weeks in December
  3. UNESDAUNESDA welcomes Nicholas Hodac as new Director General
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersBrussels welcomes Nordic culture
  5. UNESDAUNESDA appoints Nicholas Hodac as Director General
  6. UNESDASoft drinks industry co-signs Circular Plastics Alliance Declaration
  7. FEANIEngineers Europe Advisory Group: Building the engineers of the future
  8. Nordic Council of MinistersNew programme studies infectious diseases and antibiotic resistance
  9. UNESDAUNESDA reduces added sugars 11.9% between 2015-2017
  10. International Partnership for Human RightsEU-Uzbekistan Human Rights Dialogue: EU to raise key fundamental rights issues
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersNo evidence that social media are harmful to young people
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersCanada to host the joint Nordic cultural initiative 2021

Latest News

  1. Key moments for new commission This WEEK
  2. EU threatens legal action against UK over commissioner
  3. Corruption in the Balkans: the elephant in the room
  4. Green MEPs unconvinced by Romanian commissioner
  5. EU states fell short on sharing refugees, say auditors
  6. Hungary's commissioner-to-be grilled over loyalty to Orban
  7. Widow's plea as EU diplomats debate Magnitsky Act
  8. Leftist MEPs call on EU to address crisis in Chile

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Vote for the EU Sutainable Energy AwardsCast your vote for your favourite EUSEW Award finalist. You choose the winner of 2019 Citizen’s Award.
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersEducation gets refugees into work
  3. Counter BalanceSign the petition to help reform the EU’s Bank
  4. UNICEFChild rights organisations encourage candidates for EU elections to become Child Rights Champions
  5. UNESDAUNESDA Outlines 2019-2024 Aspirations: Sustainability, Responsibility, Competitiveness
  6. Counter BalanceRecord citizens’ input to EU bank’s consultation calls on EIB to abandon fossil fuels
  7. International Partnership for Human RightsAnnual EU-Turkmenistan Human Rights Dialogue takes place in Ashgabat
  8. Nordic Council of MinistersNew campaign: spot, capture and share Traces of North
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersLeading Nordic candidates go head-to-head in EU election debate
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersNew Secretary General: Nordic co-operation must benefit everybody
  11. Platform for Peace and JusticeMEP Kati Piri: “Our red line on Turkey has been crossed”
  12. UNICEF2018 deadliest year yet for children in Syria as war enters 9th year

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us