21st Oct 2016

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.

Dear EUobserver reader

Subscribe now for unrestricted access to EUobserver.

Sign up for 30 days' free trial, no obligation. Full subscription only 15 € / month or 150 € / year.

  1. Unlimited access on desktop and mobile
  2. All premium articles, analysis, commentary and investigations
  3. EUobserver archives

EUobserver is the only independent news media covering EU affairs in Brussels and all 28 member states.

♡ We value your support.

If you already have an account click here to login.

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.

News in Brief

  1. Commuters seek compensation for Swedish ID checks
  2. EU needs 'firmness and dialogue' with Russia
  3. Moment of truth is coming on Ceta, says Belgian PM
  4. No immediate solution for EU-Ukraine deal, says Rutte
  5. Ceta could be last trade deal, Tusk warns
  6. Tusk: EU summit is no lion's den for British PM
  7. May: EU must stand against 'Russian aggression' in Syria
  8. Croatia appoints conservative Plenkovic as PM

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. UNICEFCalls on European Council to Address Plight of Refugee and Migrant Children
  2. ECTAJoin us on 9-10 November in Brussels and Discover the new EU Digital Landscape
  3. Access NowCan you Hear me now? Verizon’s Opportunity to Stand for Global Users
  4. Belgrade Security ForumMeaningful Dialogue Missing Not Only in the Balkans, but Throughout Europe
  5. EASPDJoin the Trip! 20 Years on the Road. Conference & Photo Exhibition on 19-21 October
  6. EuropecheEU Fishing Sector Celebrates Sustainably Sourced Seafood in EU Parliament
  7. World VisionWomen and Girls Urge EU Leadership to Help end Gender-based Violence
  8. Dialogue PlatformIs Jihadism Blind Spot of Western Intellectuals ? Wednesday 26 October
  9. Belgrade Security ForumGet the Latest News and Updates on the Belgrade Security Forum @BelSecForum
  10. Crowdsourcing Week EuropeMaster Crowdsourcing, Crowdfunding and Innovation! Conference 21 November - 10% Discount Code CSWEU16
  11. EJCEU Parliament's Roadmap for Relations with Iran a Massive Missed Opportunity
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersFish Skin on Bare Skin: Turning Fish Waste into Sustainable Fashion