European Commission: Stoiber Group is acid test for more transparency on Expert Groups

21 November 2012

European Commission: Stoiber Group is acid test for more transparency on Expert Groups

In a meeting yesterday with SP Euro-MP Dennis de Jong and MEPs who share his concerns about the transparency of European Commission Expert Groups, Commission Vice-President Maros Sefcovic gave the go-ahead for further reform of the nine hundred or so groups. The meeting took place on the SP’s initiative and in the wake of pressure from the European Parliament, which earlier this year blocked the groups’ funding. ‘We have already agreed around fifty Expert Groups whose composition continued to appear unbalanced would all be subject to investigation,’ says De Jong. ‘In addition, we are working on a Code of Conduct to put an end to the secrecy attached to participants in the groups. I am further encouraged by the Vice-President’s promise that the reform of the much-talked about Stoiber Group would represent an acid test for the European Commission’s new ways of working.´

Dennis de JongThe European Commission has long dragged its feet when it comes to making good on promises to bring transparency and balance to the work of the nine hundred or so Expert Groups. Although there is a great variety of Expert Groups, a number of them give important advice to the Commission and in this way have a great deal of influence on European legislation. Major corporations and financial institutions are traditionally overrepresented in numerous Expert Groups. The prominent Expert Group under the leadership of German Christian Democrat Edmund Stoiber is, according to the environmental movement, trade unions and consumer organisations a clear example of such a body, its purpose being to lighten the regulatory burden on small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). ´A fine goal,’ says De Jong, ‘but not all European laws represent an unfair impediment to business. Many are needed to protect workers, consumers or the environment. Together with colleagues in the European Parliament I have written an urgent letter to the Commission on this matter. Sefcovic promised yesterday evening that an open call would go out for participants in the reformed Stoiber Group and that all interests would be evenly represented when the new mandate is implemented in January. In addition, minority views will be published. The Stoiber Group’s working methods will represent a model for the work of other Expert Groups.´

The dialogue on the Expert Groups with the Commission services will be intensified over the next few months and the results of this will be established in a new consultation between Sefcovic and the Euro-MPs. ‘The Commission no longer sees us as a nuisance, but, quite correctly, as allies, because we have good contacts with the interest groups which, just as we do ourselves, have concerns about the transparency if the European institutions. We will therefore pursue the dialogue with these organisations intensively and can now take up their proposals directly.’

You are here