EU Ombudsman: citizens have the right to know

Following an 11-month inquiry, European Ombudsman, Emily O’Reilly, issued on 13 February a recommendation relating to the transparency of the Council legislative process.

As Mrs O’Reilly puts it: “EU citizens have a treaty-based right to participate in the democratic life of the Union. Citizens cannot properly exercise this right unless the EU legislative process is sufficiently open to allow citizens to participate and also to hold their elected representatives accountable.

Increased accountability regarding the positions taken by national governments on EU legislation may reduce the ‘blame Brussels’ culture for decisions ultimately agreed by national governments themselves.

In the past, this ‘blame Brussels’ phenomenon, which misrepresents the reality of how EU legislation is agreed, has raised concerns about the democratic legitimacy of the Union. This in turn helps to promote Euroscepticism and anti-EU sentiment.”

The spirit and the objective of such recommendation are good news indeed. The recommendation underlines the essentiality of the citizens’ right to know what decisions governments are making on their behalf. We wholeheartedly welcome the Ombudsman’s decision which, although it applies specifically to the EU level, carries an universal scope. The initiative for the transition towards the rule of law through the affirmation of the right to know has scored an important point today. Equally significant is the fact that the report concludes that “the current practice of the Council constitutes maladministration.”

Matteo Angioli

Read more in the website of the European Ombudsman

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