Friday

26th Feb 2021

Ombudsman to probe EU's secret law-making

  • Secret EU lawmaking could be put in the spotlight by the ombudsman (Photo: European Union)

The EU’s transparency watchdog is poised to launch a new wave of investigations into secret EU lawmaking in May.

Gundi Gadesman, the spokesperson for European Ombudsman Emily O'Reilly, told this website that further ’systemic investigations’ would be launched at the end of May after O’Reilly announces her office’s annual report.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Become an expert on Europe

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

... or subscribe as a group

Since taking the job as Ombudsman in 2013, O’Reilly has launched a series of investigations in a bid to improve the transparency of the EU institutions including the work of EU Commission expert groups and the so-called ‘revolving doors’ issue of public officials moving into the private sector.

The new investigations would look at “key systemic problems about transparency in the EU,” Gadesman said.

A probe into the trialogue process “might be one of them but we are not at that stage yet,” she said, adding that “there are clear concerns about the opacity of the trialogue process,”

The 'own-initiative' investigations would not be legally binding on the institutions but could shine a light on the murkier side of EU lawmaking.

"Ms O'Reilly is fully right to take up this point,” Dutch leftist MEP Dennis de Jong, who chairs the Parliament’s cross-party group on transparency, told EUobserver. “When making laws at national level, negotiations between parliament and ministers are open and transparent. It is ridiculous that when it comes to EU legislation, trialogue meetings take place behind closed doors”.

On average, around 100 EU laws are agreed each year, of which 80 percent are now agreed at first reading, with research by the European Parliament estimating that the average law agreed at first reading takes 14.4 months to complete from start to finish.

Set up to broker compromise agreements between MEPs and ministers, the trialogue process, which starts as soon as the institutions agree their initial positions on a law, is designed to speed the process up .

On average, around 25 separate trialogue meetings take place each week that the parliament is sitting.

But critics complain that the work of trialogues is too secretive, and that the bills which emerge at the end of the process bear little resemblance to the versions initially agreed by ministers and parliamentary committees.

As a rule the rapporteur, shadow rapporteurs from other political groups and committee chair, comprise the Parliament's negotiating team on a law, while, at other seats round the table are officials from the European Commission and either the minister or senior civil servants from the country holding the EU Council presidency.

Frontex chief: 'about time' MEPs probe his agency

Some 14 MEPs have created a group to probe allegations of rights abuse by the EU's border agency Frontex. Its head, Fabrice Leggeri, welcomed its creation and said it "is about time".

News in Brief

  1. Rights group exposes Ethiopia massacre
  2. US carried out airstrikes against Iran-backed militia in Syria
  3. Malta closes investigation into journalist murder
  4. Dutch parliament calls China treatment of Uighurs genocide
  5. Spain fined €15m by ECJ over data failures
  6. Belarus: Anti-government protester jailed for 10 years
  7. German charged with spying for Russia in Bundestag
  8. Heavy earthquakes in Iceland trigger volcanic activity

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Council to host EU webinars on energy, digitalisation and antibiotic resistance
  2. UNESDAEU Code of Conduct can showcase PPPs delivering healthier more sustainable society
  3. CESIKlaus Heeger and Romain Wolff re-elected Secretary General and President of independent trade unions in Europe (CESI)
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersWomen benefit in the digitalised labour market
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersReport: The prevalence of men who use internet forums characterised by misogyny
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersJoin the Nordic climate debate on 17 November!

Latest News

  1. Armenia 'coup' shows waning of EU star in South Caucasus
  2. 'Difficult weeks' ahead, as variants spread across EU
  3. EU top court advised to strike down Hungary's asylum policy
  4. Frontex chief: 'about time' MEPs probe his agency
  5. Is EU poised to solve child labour in 'green' batteries?
  6. The trap of spreading ideas while attacking them
  7. Who are the EU's new Russian deplorables?
  8. Afghan asylum family beaten in Greece, set adrift at sea

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us