EU ombudsman asks Tusk to publish meeting information
EU ombudsman Emily O’Reilly has asked European Council President Donald Tusk to consider publishing information about meetings he and his cabinet hold with interest representatives.
Emily O'Reilly | Photo credit: European Parliament audiovisual
While acknowledging that such meetings are essential to his role, O’Reilly suggested that any such meetings should only be with registered lobbyists, if they fall under the scope of the EU transparency register.
She said this would bring the European Council into line with current EU standards.
It would, she argued, also send an “important positive signal” as the Commission, Parliament and Council begin negotiations on a revised transparency register.
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Speaking on Monday, the Strasbourg-based ombudsman said, “European citizens expect Tusk and his team to listen to all key stakeholders on the main issues facing Europe, whether it is on migration, security or energy. However, they also increasingly expect high levels of transparency from politicians and public institutions.
“The Juncker Commission and the European Parliament have made significant progress in this area in recent years. It would be fitting for the institution that sets the EU political agenda also to have rules about who they meet.”
She added, “Publishing information about these meetings would give the public a more complete picture of who is trying to influence EU decision-making, when and how.”
The Irish-born ombudsman has also asked Tusk whether progress reports on evolving discussions by EU leaders on their two-year work programme will be published.
She said, “Events of the last year have led to a strengthening of interest in the EU, its politics and its decision-making, therefore I welcome Tusk’s move to publish background notes setting out discussion points ahead of meetings of EU leaders.
“Publishing the progress reports on these discussions would allow citizens to follow European politics in real time and bring greater understanding about the role national leaders play in shaping decisions on vital issues,” said O’Reilly.
The move, announced on Monday, follows similar initiatives and inquiries by the ombudsman to open up the EU decision-making process to the public.
O’Reilly, who investigates cases of alleged maladministration in the EU, inquired into the transparency of trilogues on draft EU laws; the transparency of the hundreds of expert groups that give the
Commission specialist advice; and most recently into whether the Council allows sufficient public scrutiny of the evolving discussions on draft EU laws.
O’Reilly has already urged the EU institutions to turn the transparency register into a central “transparency hub” for all institutions and agencies.
She said a reformed transparency register should require full funding transparency of all interest groups and have improved data accuracy, monitoring and sanctioning.
She has requested a reply from Tusk by 1 March 2018.