”The European Council has decided not to produce an official consolidated version.”
This was the answer I received from a Finnish government source, when I asked if the Reform Treaty, also known as the Lisbon Treaty, is going to be published as a consolidated version including the existing treaties.
It is impossible to ascertain if the European Council has taken such a decision, because a little while ago the Presidency Conclusions had not been posted on the Council’s web site, even if almost two weeks have passed since the meeting. On the other hand, since the meeting was unofficial, no conclusions are going to appear, but can any decisions be taken without [authentification] accountability?
Anyway, a negative decision would fly in the face of all the rules and principles on openness and transparency that the EU institutions and the national leaders proclaim. I don’t want to believe that they would make a decision so full of contempt for citizens and democratic debate; a decision like that would be a scandal.
On the other hand, if no consolidated versions appear promptly, I have to draw the conclusion that actions speak louder than words.
I received an answer from Sweden, too, but it did nothing to clear the matter. A Swedish consolidated version of the treaties is planned, but when there is an official EU consolidation to start with. This could mean anything from a distant future to never (as we have seen).
Some EU and Finnish officials have not answered as yet.
I have discussed the need for consolidated treaties from a number of angles in my web columns: practical viewpoints, the proposed treaties, existing regulations, the Council’s own principles and the Swedish and Finnish governments as champions of openness and transparency.
This has lead to one, crystal clear conclusion: The consolidated versions are essential. The 490 million citizens of the European Union are entitled to the best available information.
If the Council does not publish the complete, consolidated treaties promptly, there are but two possibilities to lessen the scandal:
The governments of the member states instantly publish their own consolidated versions on the web, in order to give at least their own citizens correct, sufficient and user friendly information about the most important document of the European Union.
If the individual governments refuse to adhere to their own ideals on openness, some think-tank or scientific research institute in each country takes on the role of champion for the right to democratic debate by publishing its own consolidated treaty version.
I have to admit that my trust in the European Council, the Council and the member states’ governments is shaken. Let it not be wholly destroyed.
[Edited 2 November 2007]