EU-governments and 37 MEPs call for more transparency in the Council and the EU legislative process
Today, all the EU-governments and 37 MEPs of all pro-European groups pledge to make the Council and the EU legislative process more transparent and raise this debate in the Conference on the Future of Europe. The Conference on the Future of Europe should be used to discuss with citizens how to achieve this.
“Each and every one of us pledges to take steps to ensure that the EU’s decision-making process becomes more open, so that citizens can better follow the EU’s democratic processes. We further pledge to strive to set a strong example internationally of an effective, inclusive and transparent decision-making process.”
Daniel Freund, Greens/EFA representative in the Executive Board of the Conference on the Future of Europe and co-signatory of the transparency pledge, comments:
“Climate protection, tax justice, action against dictators like Lukashenko – where the EU fails to act decisively, it is often a few blocking governments hiding in the dark of Council backrooms who block the EU from action. Making the Council transparent is making the EU ready to act. It is a good sign that a majority of 20 governments are ready for urgently necessary transparency reforms.”
“The Council’s intransparency is not just politically scandalous but outright illegal. The Treaties demand of the Council as much as of Parliament to ‘meet in public … when considering [!] and voting’ draft laws (Article 15.2 TFEU). The Council must no longer ignore the many cases it lost for its lack of transparency in the European Courts. In principle, the European Court clarified in 2018, documents showing the positions of each member state must be public. It is a scandal that years later still thousands of documents from trilogue negotiations and Council preparatory meetings remain hidden away. Attempts to circumvent the treaties by calling meetings informal or avoiding to record member state positions in official documents are a slap in the face of citizens and parliamentarians’ rights to hold their governments accountable.“
„The pledge lacks specific proposals on how to make the Council transparent. It is inacceptable how the Council ignores its maladministration by keeping most of its legislative process secret from citizens, as the European Ombudsman diagnosed. Parliament called with a broad majority for the Council to record and disclose how governments support or block EU legislative proposals. To balance the governments’ wish for internal debate and the public’s right to know and hold governments accountable could be achieved with deadlines for Council to publish member states’ positions every few months regarding the latest Council presidency proposal.“
Transparency Pledge (full text)
“We strive for a European Union that enjoys the full trust of its citizens. A Union that is demonstrably accountable, effective and transparent. And a Union that closely engages with and involves its citizens. This means that citizens should be able to follow how laws affecting their lives are made.
In recent years, the EU and its institutions have shown a commitment to modernising the EU’s legislative working methods, pursuing the principles of transparency and accountability. In July 2020, the Council took an important step towards increasing transparency in its legislative work through active communication and more frequent, more proactive publication of EU legislative documents. Nevertheless, throughout the EU and its institutions, bodies and agencies, there is still more that we can and must do.
That is why we pledge to work for an even higher degree of transparency. Each and every one of us pledges to take steps to ensure that the EU’s decision-making process becomes more open, so that citizens can better follow the EU’s democratic processes. We further pledge to strive to set a strong example internationally of an effective, inclusive and transparent decision-making process.
To this end, we should engage citizens in a discussion of how to foster a higher degree of transparency. The Conference on the Future of Europe, which is based on inclusiveness, openness and transparency, presents a major opportunity in this regard. We should use the Conference to improve transparency with a view to increasing citizens’ trust and confidence in the EU.”
Spinelli group manifesto on the Future of Europe
„To end blockades and speed up legislation, we want to introduce deadlines for Council to come to a position and to disclose the position of the different Member States on compromise proposals under discussion at least every few months.“
European Parliament resolution of 17 January 2019 on the Ombudsman’s strategic inquiry OI/2/2017 on the transparency of legislative discussions in the preparatory bodies of the Council of the EU
- Fully endorses the European Ombudsman’s recommendations to the Council and urges the Council – as a minimum – to take all measures necessary to implement as swiftly as possible the recommendations of the Ombudsman, namely:
- a) to systematically record the identity of Member State governments when they express positions in Council preparatory bodies;
- b) to develop clear and publicly available criteria for how it designates documents as ‘LIMITE’, in line with EU law;
- c) to systematically review the ‘LIMITE’ status of documents at an early stage, before the final adoption of a legislative act, including before informal negotiations in trilogues, at which point the Council will have reached an initial position on the proposal;
Key treaty provisions
“The European Parliament shall meet in public, as shall the Council when considering and voting on a draft legislative act.” (Article 15.2 TFEU)
“Legal acts adopted by legislative procedure shall constitute legislative acts.” Article 289.3 TFEU
“The Council shall, jointly with the European Parliament, exercise legislative and budgetary functions.” Article 16.2 TEU
Bündnis 90/Die Grünen Wahlprogramm 2021
“Um nachvollziehbar zu machen, wofür die Regierungen der Mitgliedstaaten in Brüssel eintreten, setzen wir uns für Fristen im Rahmen der Gesetzgebung ein, bis zu denen eine öffentliche Debatte im Rat stattgefunden haben muss. Dabei müssen alle Regierungen ihre aktuelle Position zum Vorschlag der Ratspräsidentschaft vorlegen. In einer deutschen Bundesregierung gehen wir hierbei mit gutem Beispiel voran.”