Time for the Parliament to act

Transparency is more important than ever in the EU. The citizens and financial markets have lost their trust on the EU. A key tool to get the trust back is to increase tremendously the current level of transparency in the EU.

The Treaty of Lisbon requires more transparency, particularly in the legislative procedures. We need more access to documents.

The European Parliament, Council, and Commission have tried to agree on the revision of Regulation 1049/2001 on the Access to the EU Documents since 2008. Without any success.

The Danish Presidency lacked a real political will to push the revision forward this spring. It was not the Presidency’s political priority at all.

The Commission kept its negative attitude in the negotiations. It was not willing to try to find real compromises. It did not move even one centimeter forward in the negotiations. Instead, it was just requiring more restrictions and exceptions.

The European Parliament negotiating team  lead by Rapporteur Michael Cashman was working hard in order to find an agreement. It was ready to compromise but not to take steps backwards in the name of transparency.

It is a pity that the Council and Commission do not accept the Lisbon Treaty requirements on more transparency. But there are also many other possible improvements in transparency that we can make without a revision of the Regulation 1049/2001.

Let’s start from here

The European Parliament is commonly known as the most transparent EU institution. But let’s start the changes from there because the EP has been the one asking for more transparency. Here are three proposals:

(1.)      Let´s make all the votes in the committees and in the plenary public. The citizens have the right to know how we MEPs vote in each vote.

(2.)      Let’s make all the minutes of the coordinators’ meetings in the committees public. The important decisions of the committees are now made in secrecy.

(3.)      Let’s create a new public database for the four-column documents from the trialogue meetings. Once the Rapporteur receives them, the documents shall be put in the database immediately. The citizens have the right to know the positions of the EU Institutions in the negotiations of the EU legislation.

These were only few simple examples how we could increase the transparency in the EP without the revision of any Regulation. A full list of possible improvements would be long. But not as long as similar list from the Council and Commission.

Citizens deserve better

Mr Barroso and Mr Van Rompuy, the European citizens deserve better Europe than you are now offering for them. Taking the decisions in secreracy is not any solution to the crisis. The things have changed.

The European citizens deserve democracy. It requires transparency, access to documents and that the desicions are made in public. Nothing less.

Anneli Jäätteenmäki
ALDE (Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe) Vice-President
AFCO (Constitutional Affairs) Co-Rapporteur on the Revision of the Regulation 1049/2001 on the Access to the EU Documents

Published in http://www.wobbing.eu/news/opinion-time-parliament-act 3.7.2012