Thursday

20th Feb 2020

Ombudsman to investigate EU expert groups

  • European Ombudsman Emily O'Reilly is to investigate the work of EU Commission-appointed 'expert groups' (Photo: Valentina Pop)

The European Ombudsman, Emily O'Reilly, has said she will launch an investigation into the composition and transparency of the European Commission's expert groups.

The results of the investigation, which is set to be the first in a series of inquiries to be opened during the coming months, will not be legally binding. It will start with a public consultation and will investigate how groups are composed, their members, and whether they work transparently.

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

In a statement on Wednesday (14 May), O'Reilly commented that "it is of utmost importance for these groups to be balanced and to work as transparently as possible so that the public can trust and scrutinise their work."

"The commission relies heavily on the advice of hundreds of expert groups to draw up legislation and policy, covering areas from tax and banking services, to road safety and pharmaceuticals," she added.

The EU executive creates so-called 'expert groups' to offer advice to officials on drafting and then implementing new EU law. But transparency campaigners argue that most groups are dominated by representatives from big business.

An 86-page report published last November by transparency NGO Alter-EU found that in all the recent groups created by the commission, there are more representatives from big business than of all the other stakeholders combined.

Eighty percent of the expert groups linked to the commission’s tax department, DG taxation and customs union, represent corporate interest, while 62 percent of members of groups tied to DG enterprise were from the business community.

Meanwhile, although the agenda and minutes of expert groups are made available online, there are no common rules on selection and no means for the EU's other institutions to scrutinise the work of the groups.

Ombudsman vows 'robust' action against EU secrecy

EU ombudsman Emily O'Reilly wants more transparency from EU institutions on letting officials switch to the private sector, negotiating trade agreements, and allowing medicines onto the European market.

Ombudsman: 'Now the hard work begins'

Emily O'Reilly marked her first year in office as the European Union's Ombudsman on Wednesday but her gloves are only coming off now.

EU leaders face major clash on rule of law budget link

One major issue dividing member states in the ongoing budget negotiations is inserting a direct link between EU subsidies and the rule of law. While the biggest battle will be over figures, the rule of law conditionality also creates tension.

News in Brief

  1. EU unveils white paper on AI and data strategy
  2. Dutch court rules against Russia in €46bn Yukos case
  3. Britain to bar 'Polish plumber-type' migrants
  4. Greece seeks EU help to get back classical statues from UK
  5. HSBC to cut 35,000 jobs worldwide
  6. Regions chief appeals against cutting EU cohesion funds
  7. Verhofstadt criticises UK Brexit negotiator
  8. Turkish court acquits Gezi park activists

Column

Western 'endarkenment' and the voodoo politics of Europe

The continent that gave the world the Enlightenment has collectively reverted to believing in fairy tales and the soothing power of cozy narrowness. Moscow and Beijing like what they see, and are doing everything to strengthen the trend.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersScottish parliament seeks closer collaboration with the Nordic Council
  2. UNESDAFrom Linear to Circular – check out UNESDA's new blog
  3. Nordic Council of Ministers40 years of experience have proven its point: Sustainable financing actually works
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic and Baltic ministers paving the way for 5G in the region
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersEarmarked paternity leave – an effective way to change norms
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Climate Action Weeks in December

Latest News

  1. EU leaders face major clash on rule of law budget link
  2. North Macedonia warns EU on 'dirtiest ever' election
  3. Western 'endarkenment' and the voodoo politics of Europe
  4. Warning of agricultural 'digital arms race' in EU
  5. Cayman Islands put on tax-haven blacklist after Brexit
  6. Boris' Brexit bluff? - UK will resist alignment to the end
  7. US still open to Kosovo-Serbia land swap
  8. EU countries enter final phase of budget talks

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us