Sunday

22nd Oct 2017

Ombudsman demands greater expert group transparency

  • The commission consults hundreds of group to help it frame laws (Photo: ec.europa.eu)

EU ombudsman Emily O'Reilly is demanding more transparency on so-called expert groups that help frame future EU proposals.

In 2015 the European Commission consulted around 800 groups with a total of roughly 6,000 members, mostly composed of people from industry, to help it draw up new legislation.

Thank you for reading EUobserver!

Subscribe now for a 30 day free trial.

  1. €150 per year
  2. or €15 per month
  3. Cancel anytime

EUobserver is an independent, not-for-profit news organization that publishes daily news reports, analysis, and investigations from Brussels and the EU member states. We are an indispensable news source for anyone who wants to know what is going on in the EU.

We are mainly funded by advertising and subscription revenues. As advertising revenues are falling fast, we depend on subscription revenues to support our journalism.

For group, corporate or student subscriptions, please contact us. See also our full Terms of Use.

If you already have an account click here to login.

O'Reilly on Tuesday (2 February) said the Brussels executive should publish the minutes of meetings as well as positions advanced by individual members.

"Making this kind of information public will help ensure expert groups are viewed as legitimate as possible," she said in a statement.

O'Reilly had launched her own inquiry in May 2014 following broad concerns over how the experts were appointed, the balance between corporate and civil society interest in the groups, and overall transparency.

Pro-transparency groups have long complained that corporate interests dominate the groups at the expense of public interest.

One report by Alter-EU, an alliance of transparency NGOs, highlighted the issue by noting some of the so-called independent panellists in the expert group on tax were working for accountancy firms Deloitte, Ernst & Young, KPMG, and PwC.

Some progress

The commission has argued that civil society might not always have the required expertise on specific areas, and that some positions reserved for them may go unfilled.

It has also said that some of the expert groups would lose their purpose by becoming embroiled in political debates if they accommodated a wide range of views.

"It is important to underline that expert groups are not set up in the first place to engage in a debate of a general nature with stakeholders or public opinion," said EU Commission vice-president Frans Timmermans in a formal response last year to O'Reilly's inquiry.

O'Reilly said some progress has been made since the May inquiry.

She noted that internal conflict of interest rules and the processes by which experts were selected had been overhauled. Self-employed members are now also required to register in the EU joint-transparency register.

But in a letter sent to commission president Jean-Claude Juncker over the weekend, O'Reilly said the groups should also publish agendas and background documents ahead of a meeting.

She said confidentiality of the meetings should only be allowed in exceptional cases "following a majority vote within the group and with the consent of the commission".

The commission has until the end of April to respond to the latest recommendations.

EU Council is 'black hole' in public trust

The EU Council, its most powerful institution, is a “black hole” unto the general public, hampering efforts to regain trust, a leading NGO has said.

EU gives thumbs up to US data pact

Commission gives 'thumbs-up' to controversial Privacy Shield deal with US on data sharing after a year's operation - but notes room for improvement.

News in Brief

  1. Rajoy to trigger Article 155 on Saturday in Catalan crisis
  2. EU conducts unannounced inspection of German car firm
  3. Lithuania calls for new EU energy laws
  4. EU leaders aim for December for defence cooperation
  5. Juncker says hands tied on Russia pipeline
  6. Czechs set to elect billionaire Andrej Babis
  7. Italian regions hold referendums on more autonomy
  8. EU leaders refuse to mediate Catalonia conflict

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Mission of China to the EUPresident Xi Jinping Proposes Stronger Global Security Governance at Interpol Assembly
  2. European Friends of ArmeniaEU Engagement Could Contribute to Lasting Peace in Nagorno-Karabakh
  3. UNICEFViolence in Myanmar Driving 12,000 Rohingya Refugee Children Into Bangladesh Every Week
  4. European Jewish CongressBulgaria Applauded for Adopting the Working Definition of Antisemitism
  5. EU2017EENorth Korea Leaves Europe No Choice, Says Estonian Foreign Minister Sven Mikser
  6. Mission of China to the EUZhang Ming Appointed New Ambassador of the Mission of China to the EU
  7. International Partnership for Human RightsEU Should Seek Concrete Commitments From Azerbaijan at Human Rights Dialogue
  8. European Jewish CongressEJC Calls for New Austrian Government to Exclude Extremist Freedom Party
  9. CES - Silicones EuropeIn Healthcare, Silicones Are the Frontrunner. And That's a Good Thing!
  10. EU2017EEEuropean Space Week 2017 in Tallinn from November 3-9. Register Now!
  11. European Entrepreneurs CEA-PMEMobiliseSME Exchange Programme Open Doors for 400 Companies Across Europe
  12. CECEE-Privacy Regulation – Hands off M2M Communication!

Latest News

  1. The mysterious German behind Orban's Russian deals
  2. Mogherini urged to do more on Russian propaganda
  3. Turkey funding cuts signal EU mood shift
  4. Posted workers top EU agenda This Week
  5. Leaders lobby to host EU agencies at summit's margins
  6. Legal tweak could extend EU control on Russia pipeline
  7. Ukraine language law does not harm minorities
  8. EU begins preparations for Brexit trade talks