Wednesday

11th Dec 2019

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

Support quality EU news

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

... or join 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.

Hungary quizzed over EU rules amid twitter row

Hungary attempted to defend its rules on academia, the judiciary, and the media questions by EU countries, while government spokesman breached EU rules by live-tweeting from the closed doors hearing.

Spanish King meets party leaders to break deadlock

The Spanish King Felipe VI started 48-hours of meetings with the political leaders on Tuesday to determine whether the socialist caretaker prime minister Pedro Sánchez stands a chance of becoming the new head of government.

Magazine

EU must manage climate and industry together

For Romanian centre-right MEP Adina-Ioana Valean, the previous chair of environment committee and current chair of industry, research and energy (ITRE), climate and industrial policy-making must go hand-in-hand to bring sustainability and prosperity to Europe.

News in Brief

  1. Hungary asked to apologise after council leak
  2. MEPs: Finnish budget proposal 'impossible to implement'
  3. EP committee supports 'Future of EU Conference'
  4. EU survey: climate change must be parliament's priority
  5. Zahradil resigns as rapporteur on EU-Vietnam trade deal
  6. Russia plans 'Arctic Air Defence" with S-400 missiles
  7. Belgium: King does another round of consultations
  8. Thousands protest Orban's theatre clampdown

Exclusive

Zahradil 'conflict of interest' over EU-Vietnam trade deal

Right-wing Czech MEP Jan Zahradil is leading European Parliament negotiations on a trade deal with Vietnam. As rapporteur, he is supposed to be neutral but has neglected to declare his involvement in a group with ties to the Communist party.

Investigation

Data watchdog raps EU asylum body for snooping

The European Asylum Support Office combed through social media to monitor refugee routes to Europe for three years. The agency sent weekly reports on its findings to member states, the EU Commission and institutions such as UNHCR and Interpol.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of Ministers40 years of experience have proven its point: Sustainable financing actually works
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic and Baltic ministers paving the way for 5G in the region
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersEarmarked paternity leave – an effective way to change norms
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Climate Action Weeks in December
  5. UNESDAUNESDA welcomes Nicholas Hodac as new Director General
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersBrussels welcomes Nordic culture

Latest News

  1. Hungary quizzed over EU rules amid twitter row
  2. Spanish King meets party leaders to break deadlock
  3. EU alarmed by prospects of battle for Tripoli
  4. EU must manage climate and industry together
  5. Does Malta's Labour Party now belong in S&D?
  6. Green Deal targets pit Left against Right in parliament
  7. Human rights abusers to face future EU blacklists
  8. Zahradil 'conflict of interest' probe may flounder

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us