–The European Ombudsman recommends the Council to be more transparent about its documents and positions in the legislative process. Today, the Ombudsman concluded her strategic inquiry on the Council’s transparency after a year of research. ITCO co-president Dennis de Jong fully supports the conclusions of the Ombudsman: “The investigation by the Ombudsman clearly shows the need for more openness by EU institutions. Citizens have a right to know how the EU forms its positions.”
The documents produced by the Council are routinely marked by the Council Secretariat as “LIMITE”. This means that they should not be shared outside the Council. However, the Ombudsman rightly concluded that as an EU institution, the Council generally has to make documents available and only in exceptional circumstances redact information. De Jong: “It is high time the Council opens up and shares documents without any censorship; I experienced this myself in a request for an opinion of the Council Legal Service. In an access to documents request, I could only receive highly edited information. I hope the complaint I submitted to the Ombudsman about this will soon come to a conclusion in the light of this inquiry.”
Furthermore, the positions of EU Member States were not always revealed by the minutes, meaning it was not clear which nation agreed to what. The network of national parliaments COSAC (Conference of Parliamentary Committees for Union Affairs) has recently published a report by 2 Dutch rapporteurs and came to similar conclusions. “This inquiry helps the initiative of national parliaments immensely. There are currently 26 national parliaments requesting exactly more transparency at the Council, see: here”, according to the ITCO co-president.