Aktuelles > EM Germany Newsletter CW 49|2020: Transparency in the Council of the EU

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EM Germany Newsletter CW 49|2020: Transparency in the Council of the EU

Political decisions have to be comprehensible in order to build up trust. At EU level, the European Parliament and the EU Commission emphasized citizen-oriented policies by unfolding the decision making process and by establishing a EU transparency register for interest groups. The Council, on the other hand, prefers to practice diplomatic secrecy, as the German newspaper Tagesspiegel reveals today. Referring to a longterm investigation of how the Council takes its decisions, it finds that there is no transparency as to why important proposals are being blocked, which countries are applying the break and who is exercising external influence. The German Federal government should change this practice at least for its own positions. 

We welcome the fact that the German Council Presidency managed to make progress in the informal trilogues on a mandatory joint EU transparency register for the three EU institutions. It’s important to reach a prompt agreement at EU level, and it is as important to take this as a blueprint for a full lobby register at national level, comprising the Bundestag and the Federal Government, and including a legislative footprint. After all, German EU policies are made before the respective Council meetings in Brussels or Luxemburg start.

We should thus take the recommendation in the German country chapter of the 2020 Rule of Law Report seriously and establish a national transparency register. In order to make political decisions in Germany comprehensible both for the public and for the EU partners, it takes more than only a transparent Reichstag cupola.

Have a nice week – and stay safe! 


Hartmut Bäumer       
Chair of Transparency Germany

Dr. Linn Selle  
President of European Movement Germany

#EBDFocus: Transparency in the Council of the EU

„In order to promote good governance and ensure the participation of civil society, the Union’s institutions, bodies, offices and agencies shall conduct their work as openly as possible.“ Article 15 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union describes – together with Article 11 of the TEU – the principle of transparency within the EU institutions. +++ Secret decision-making bypassing EU law? A long-term research by Investigate Europe analyses how national diplomats make law in the EU Council. The Tagesspiegel published preliminary results of the investigation today. „Our politicians act as if EU policy were foreign policy„, EM Germany president Dr. Linn Selle told Tagesspiegel. „But it’s just normal governance“. The latter does not work without participation, and participation requires transparency, Selle said. +++ „Rendering EU legislation transparent“ reads one of the political priorities of EM Germany. The network asks for an open and transparent documentation of decision-making processes, a timely agreement on a joint mandatory transparency register for the EU institutions, and a regulation on the informal trilogues. +++ To highlight this political priority, EM Germany and Transparency Germany are mutual members, jointly advocating transparent decision-making processes in EU law-making. Their latest cooperation included a dialogue with European Ombudsman Emily O’Reilly on the status quo of transparency in EU decision-making. +++ In 2016, the EU Commission published its proposal for a new inter-institutional agreement on a mandatory EU transparency register for lobbyists that applies to all institutions. The German Federal government expects a political agreement on the main points before the end of the year, after the trilogue made substantial progress last Tuesday. The EU transparency register for the European Parliament and the EU Commission exists since 2011. +++ The „Alliance for lobby transparency“ is fighting for the introduction of a mandatory transparency register for the German Bundestag and the Federal Government following the EU model. Four out of the six members of the alliance are part of EM Germany. The so-called Lobby Register Act is being debated in the Bundestag right now. +++ All news and positions towards transparency within the network can be found on EM Germany’s website.

#EBDGrafik of the week

Which Commission proposal has been stuck in the EU Council the longest? It’s the Revised regulation on the public access to EU documents (COM (2008) 229) (sic). Our EBDGrafik shows a selection of Commission’s proposals which have been negotiated in the Council of the EU for more than four years. | Download

EM Germany news

Recovery from the pandemic, and a premiere: our EBD De-Briefings this week. While the European Council discussed coordinated strategies to fight the virus, EM Germany President Linn Selle criticised that Member States undermined the Schengen area by closing borders. | More (in German) +++ The update of the EU industrial policy and its share in fighting the pandemic were topical at the EBD De-Briefing on the COMPET Council. | More (in German) +++ For the first time, EM Germany organised a De-Briefing on the General Affairs Council with a special focus on the Rule of Law dialogue. | More (in German)

The von der Leyen Commission took office on Dec 1st 2019 – now it’s time to take stock: Together with the EU Commission Representation, EM Germany is hosting an online debate today at 1 p.m. to assess the last year and to look ahead to 2021 with Christian Petry MP (SPD) and Franziska Brantner MP (Greens), and Alexander Beribes of Konrad Adenauer Foundation – all are also Board members of EM Germany. | More (in German) +++

Until Dec 15: call for nominations of the Women of Europe Germany Awards 2021. EM Germany calls on its member organisations to nominate women striving to advance the European project in their private capacity. | More (in German) +++ Need inspiration? Then sign in to European Movement International’s Women of Europe award ceremony December 2nd. | More

Upcoming events

All EM Germany events take place via videoconference. Participation is free, but registration required. Conference language is German unless indicated otherwise. +++  30.11.2020: EBD De-Briefing COMPET (Research and innovation) +++ 30.11.2020: One year of the von der Leyen Commission – assessment and outlook from a Berlin perspective +++  02.12.2020: EBD De-Briefing ECOFIN and Eurogroup +++ 02.12.2020: EBD De-Briefing Education, Youth, Culture and Sport Council +++ 04.12.2020: EBD Staatsminister im Dialog international: Priorities of the German Presidency of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe (in English) +++ 08.12.2020: EBD De-Briefing Justice +++ 10.12.2020: EBD De-Briefing TTE +++ 14.12.2020: EBD De-Briefing European Council (with simultaneous translation into English and Italien) +++ Our Presidency Calendar on the German EU Council Presidency is online – in the traditional six-month format (scroll to page 2). The December edition of the calendar is available here.

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