EU Council Transparency
The Council of the European Union is not only one of the most powerful institutional actors in the EU legislative process but also the most opaque institution in Brussels. While in theory the Council is on equal footing with the European Parliament, in practice it often has the final word on legislation and acts much like an upper chamber in other political systems.
The transparency of Council proceedings therefore has wider implications for the transparency of EU decision making. Unfortunately, the Council does not have the best track record of ensuring accountability in its proceedings. A majority of the legislative discussions has moved behind closed doors to informal “trilogue” meetings (negotiations between the European Parliament, European Commission and Council of the EU) where compromises and details are hashed out without any official records ever being released to the public.
This transparency deficit further undermines citizen’s trust in the democratic institutions of the European Union (See 2013 Eurobarometer).
Engaging the EU Presidencies in the fight against corruption – in order to monitor EU member states’ commitment to the anti-corruption agenda we will leverage the power of the Presidency of the Council of the EU as a vehicle. The rotating Presidency of the Council is responsible for the functioning of the Council of the EU: its function is to chair meetings of the Council, determine its agendas, set a work programme and facilitate dialogue both at Council meetings and with other institutions during the informal “trialogue” meetings.
In the run-up to each Presidency we publish a position paper which outlines key recommendations for each Presidency. At the conclusion of the Presidency we publish a Scorecard which assesses the transparency and accountability of the Presidency, both during its preparation and implementation. In addition the Scorecard focuses on key directives that have a transparency/anti-corruption dimension and evaluates whether and how member states advance these as part of the Council of the EU. The Scorecard is published every six months. The goal is to create awareness of EU member states’ anti-corruption commitments at EU level, which will lead to a greater prioritisation of anti-corruption policies on the Council agenda.
Blog Posts and press releases:
2 December 2013: Tackling corruption in the Council what is your EU presidency up to
30 January 2014: Greek Presidency of the EU time to make corruption walk the plank
17 March 2014: EU Council falls short in the fight against corruption
23 September 2014: EU Council misses opportunity to close money laundering loopholes
29 September 2014: A tale of two presidencies
2 October 2014: The state of transparency in the Council of the EU
25 March 2015: Latvian Council Presidency: Of baking bread and edging tools
21 October 2015: EU still deadlocked on new European anti-corruption legislation
Best practices exchange: