The Puzzle of Transparency Reforms in the Council of the EU
Article by Professor Daniel Naurin in Politics and Governance, 2017, Volume 5, Issue 3.
Naurin argues that the transparency reforms that have been implemented in the Council of the EU in the last decades are unlikely to change the perception of the Council as a non-transparent institution. His argument is based on three distinctions: the distinction between transparency (availability of information) and publicity (spread and reception of information); between transparency in process and transparency in rationale; and between plenary and committee decision-making arenas in legislatures. While national parliaments tend to have all these features, the Council of the EU only has two (transparency in process and committee decision-making). As a consequence, publishing ever more documents and detailed minutes of committee meetings is unlikely to strengthen the descriptive legitimacy of the Council. Furthermore, Naurin argues that the democratic transparency problem is the reverse of what is most often argued: It is not the lack of transparency that causes a democratic deficit, but the (perceived) lack of a democratic infrastructure that makes more serious transparency reforms unthinkable to government representatives.