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Lacking Transparency requires Democracy Update of EU

An old envelope with the heading: Top secret. Photo by Nina M., Flickr

Lacking Transparency requires Democracy Update of EU

25-04-2014

Transparency International (TI) published its first report on corruption and integrity risks in the institutions of the European Union on 24 April 2014. The report – the first one on this issue – finds that the foundation of EU anti-corruption and anti-fraud measures is solid in general. Nevertheless, serious flaws within the EU system regarding transparency, corruption and fraud persist.

According to the report, certain processes within EU law-making are still completely intransparent. An example are the so-called ‘trilogue’ meetings between representatives of the EU Commission, the European Parliament and the Council. At these meetings, laws are being made behind closed doors, which makes public scrutiny impossible. TI points out that in order to accelerate the process of EU legislation-making, informal decision-making has become customary among EU representatives. As a result “critical parts of the legislative process do not receive proper scrutiny and important negotiations are shrouded in secrecy”. This development of informal and non-transparent policy-making makes it very difficult of EU citizens to comprehend political developments and to actively participate in the process.

Moreover, the way lobbying takes place at EU level is another problematic issue TI highlights. In this regard, the organisation criticises the lack of a mandatory EU lobby register. Due to the fact that the existing lobby register is voluntary and only concerns the European Parliament and the Commission, it cannot be guaranteed that political decisions are free from external interests or abuse. In addition, the organisation criticises that EU policy makers are not obliged to unveil in how far which particular (lobbying) interests have been decisive in the drafting and adoption of certain EU laws. Therefore, TI calls for a “legislative footstep” that would clarify how EU laws are developed and where or from whom the input to draft the law originates from.

These shortcomings underline the importance of a democratic overhaul of the EU – what we need are transparent political processes together with effective possibilities of citizen participation at EU level. This goes hand in hand with the core demand of our current campaign Democratic Europe Now!, which is the convocation of a new EU Convention: A democratic and inclusive forum where policy makers, civil society and citizens can openly debate the big decisions about the future of the European Union.

The report “The European Union Integrity System” is available for download here.

Further Info:

Transparency International

Website of our campaign Democratic Europe Now!

Text by Lisa Albers

Photo by Ninja M., Flickr (Source)

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