After Lisbon, still a bumpy road for transparency in the EU institutions
Two weeks after the entry into force of the new Lisbon Treaty the main objective of which is to increase the democratic accountability of all the EU institutitions the European Parliament has invited the Council and the Commission to work together on the reform of the EU legislation in this sensitive matter building on the new art. 9 (*) of the Treaty on the functionning of the European Union.
Not surprisingly the debate has showed that the Strasbourg plenary is still alone in the search of more transparency.
The proof of it is the fact that on its side the Commission did’nt move of one comma of its 2008 contested initiative legislative proposal and even confirmed it as a basic text of the legislative work also under the Lisbon Treaty even if it is now clearly outdated face to the last two years of progressive judgments of the Court of Justice and to the Lisbon Treaty which impose the principle of transparency to all the EU Institutions, bodies and Agencies.
On its side the Council has taken an even more restrictive approach by adopting the minimum of possible amendments to its internal rules of procedures following the entry into force of the new Treaty and of some of its directly applicable rules (such as the one referring to the legislative proceedings), followed by the European Council itself where the Head of State and Governement have taken the confidentiality as a general principle in their internal rules.
Moreover in the very same days of the entry into force of the Treaty the Council has strenghtened its rules of confidentiality and has set them as a standard for the exchange of informations with the member states (see the internal Council Documents: 13886/09 and 13885/09).
Even more worryng is that also the European Parliament seems now politically splitted compared to the first time when it legislated on trasparency (Regulation 1049/01).
At that time there was a strong support from the two main political groups (EPP and PSE) who appears now splitted the socialists being supportive of a progressive approach and the EPP on a more conservative approach.
Even if the text of the plenary resolution adopted (341 votes in favour, 206 against and 20 abstentions) looks promising for the future works and the legislative vote which will take place in the next months the vote against of the EPP is a clear signal that a lot of compromises will be needed and that it is more than likely that the text will not be easlily accepted by the Council so that the the revision of the Regulation 1049/01 will require much more time of exptected.
(*) TFUE Article 9 (ex Article 255 TEC)
1. In order to promote good governance and ensure the participation of civil society, the Union institutions, bodies, offices and agencies shall conduct their work as openly as possible.
2. The European Parliament shall meet in public, as shall the Council when considering and voting on a draft legislative act.
3. Any citizen of the Union, and any natural or legal person residing or having its registered office in a Member State, shall have a right of access to documents of the Union institutions, bodies, offices and agencies, whatever their medium, subject to the principles and the conditions to be defined in accordance with this paragraph.
General principles and limits on grounds of public or private interest governing this right of access to documents shall be determined by the European Parliament and the Council, by means of regulations, acting in accordance with the ordinary legislative procedure.
Each institution, body, office or agency shall ensure that its proceedings are transparent and shall elaborate in its own Rules of Procedure specific provisions regarding access to its documents, in accordance with the regulations referred to in the second subparagraph.
The Court of Justice of the European Union, the European Central Bank and the European Investment Bank shall be subject to this paragraph only when exercising their administrative tasks.
The European Parliament and the Council shall ensure publication of the documents relating to the legislative procedures under the terms laid down by the regulations referred to in the second subparagraph.