Centre-right votes against greater transparency in EU

18 December 2009

Centre-right votes against greater transparency in EU

The SP group in the European Parliament was today amongst those who successfully proposed a resolution calling for more openness in making documents available to the public, as well as to researchers and journalists. During the vote, the centre-right Christian Democrats, including the Dutch governing party the CDA, were almost alone in their opposition. Yet when the issue was debated earlier in the week the spokeswoman for the Christian Democrats, Renate Sommer, accused other political groups of using ‘underhand practices’ to block the resolution. “Her attitude is unworthy of a Member of the European Parliament,” says SP group leader Dennis de Jong. “That the CDA did not distance itself from such behaviour and that it voted against the Parliament’s transparency initiative is extremely disappointing."

Dennis de Jong For the SP, improving transparency, democratic control and balanced representation of interests is one of the issues to be fought for in the European Parliament. Together with MEPs from various political groups, Dennis de Jong has been one of the leading voices in this campaign, launching an action plan which had openness within the EU institutions as one of its central points, along with an a compulsory register of lobbyists for the 15,000 or more who are employed in Brussels, a more evenly weighted composition for the close to a thousand expert groups which advise the Commission, and a Code of Conduct for Euro-MPs themselves.
The resolution adopted today aims to give the public an understanding of what is going on at every stag of the decision-making process. "From the first advice note provided by an expert group, to the discussions within the Commission, to the definitive decision-making in the Council and in the European Parliament, everything must be comprehensible," insists De Jong. As things stand, ordinary members of the public, as well as researchers and journalists, too often still find themselves sent away knowing no more than when they arrived. Requests for information are rejected by the EU institutions as being insufficiently specific. "You literally have to know the document number before the institutions start thinking about giving you n answer,” says De Jong. “Citizens should be able to put open questions and get a clear answer.” Furthermore, he adds, too many dossiers are classed as ‘secret information’. Anyone who has ever visited the website of one of the EU institutions knows that you seldom if ever find what you’re looking for. “Instead, your flooded with Europropaganda, but that’s not the same as intelligent information."

You are here