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Wednesday 24 September 2014

Roadmap to Transparency for a truly democratic Europe

At today’s launch of the Roadmap to Transparency, Dutch liberal MEP Sophie in ‘t Veld calls for more transparency with regard to EU law making and better public access to documents. Her action plan contains practical and concrete recommendations for a more transparent Europe. “The days of diplomats negotiating in back rooms are over, “she says. “Citizens deserve to know what their representatives are discussing and which positions they take. Today, the European Union is rapidly developing into a fully-fledged political union . Administrative transparency is a prerequisite for a truly democratic Europe.”

In ‘t Veld, who is first vice-president of the Group for Liberals and Democrats for Europe (ALDE) calls for an urgent revision of EU transparency laws. Rules on public access to documents are outdated and leave too much room for interpretation. In practice the right to access to documents is effectively a dead letter. “Secrecy is the starting point rather than openness. Until now the Member States and the European Commission blocked this much-needed reform. But in his political program for the new Commission, Juncker seems to opt for more transparency. Hopefully he has the nerve to break this deadlock,” says in ‘t Veld.

Moreover, each EU institution should appoint a transparency officer, a high level watchdog dedicated to bring about of transparency. “The EU needs a European Commissioner for openness in government.  This competence should be added to the portfolio of commissioner-designate Timmermans. He has always said he would fight for more transparency. I shall take him at his word,” says In ‘t Veld.

Connected to the Roadmap to Transparency, ALDE MEPs have proposed budget amendments allocating funds to develop a single online platform for easy online access to unclassified EU institution documents. “ALDE has always been at the forefront of fighting for more transparency when it comes to EU legislation. What we need is a culture change to achieve a transparent Europe.”

One can find the Roadmap here.