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The EU doesn’t work in a transparent way

Or is it just a belief?

, by Stéphane du Boispéan, Translated by Quentin Boulanger

All the versions of this article: [Deutsch] [English] [français]

Many of the decisions taken by the European institutions don’t reach the ears of the pubic or, when they do so, it is only when they come into force. It is a major difference, no doubt about it, with national politics where debates are reported on a day-to-day basis. But does it mean that the European institutions work behind closed doors? That the decisions taken aren’t transparent?

EP Hemicycle in Strasbourg – © European Parliament - Audiovisual Unit

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The Commission: a policy based upon consultations

The Commission’s legislative proposals are published online. They must necessarily be preceded by a public consultation. Every citizen can be part of those. In fact, federations, associations and companies do it on a more active way than the lambda citizen. But it doesn’t mean there is no transparency. Let’s take a basic example, the directive on airport charges. In this document the Commission had to sum-up the consultation and opinions of the participants before issuing its proposal. EUR-LEX website publishes every document of this kind.

The European Parliament: always in direct

The European Parliament, like its national counterparts, works in plenary sessions and parliamentary commissions. Every session where the proposals from the Commission are debated is broadcasted on the Internet and can be watched a few days later in the EU’s 23 official languages.

Citizens thus have access to everything that is happening in the European Parliament and can find information about the position and ideas of their representatives in Brussels. We can mention the associative website Votewatch that publishes the votes made by every MEP on every text. Years later one can see who voted what.

Progresses to be made… by Member States

This transparency isn’t perfect (no institutional functioning is) and as it is the case in our national States, progresses can be made. It is for example inadmissible and incomprehensible that summits behind closed doors between the heads of State and government multiply themselves, as the one that was hold on the 21st of July about the debt crisis. It is necessary to know who thinks what. With this in mind, the national parliaments or the European Parliament should be examples.

The EU doesn’t work in a more transparent way than other institutions. Just like the others, it must be constantly reformed to adapt and become more democratic. The first condition to do so still is a greater involvement from the citizens. The frame for this exists even if it can be improved.

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