Tuesday, 30 October 2007

EU transparency test

The Reform Treaty or Lisbon Treaty itself of the European Union is going to be the main test of its democratic principles, especially transparency. It is generally known that it is impossible to get a general picture of the EU if you read only the amendments included in the amending treaties. Therefore, you have to compare the existing treaties with the amending treaties, paragraph by paragraph; a tedious task.

This is putting an unfair burden on interested citizens (and experts). I have called for instant publication on the web of the entire updated treaties, consolidated versions, to be made accessible to every citizen of the EU, in all the official languages.

The main responsibility lies with the Council. The following alternative (if the Commission or the European Parliament does not step in) is publication by the individual governments of the member states. If even that fails, we have to hope for civic-minded action by think-tanks and scientific research institutes.

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The new EU Treaty should inspire the Council to do its utmost to satisfy all calls for relevant information:

“Every citizen shall have the right to participate in the democratic life of the Union. Decisions shall be taken as openly and as closely as possible to the citizen.” (proposed article 8a paragraph 3)

“The institutions shall, by appropriate means, give citizens and representative associations the opportunity to make known and publicly exchange their views in all areas of Union action.” (proposed article 8b paragraph 1)

“The institutions shall maintain an open, transparent and regular dialogue with representative associations and civil society.” (proposed article 8b parargraph 2)

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The same spirit of openness permeates the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union:

“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.” (proposed article 15 paragraph 1)

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We have seen the commendable principles the governments have endorsed on behalf of the European Union and themselves.

Consolidated versions of the new treaties are sorely needed. When do we get them? Who publishes them?


Ralf Grahn