14 April 2022

TwitterFacebook

Democracy needs transparency in action

by The Good Lobby

An accountable Conference of Europe plenary

 

Citizens take Over Europe sent an open letter to Conference of Europe Chairs stating that a successful Conference needs an accountable Conference Plenary. 46 Conference Plenary members & 83 civil society groups, including The Good Lobby, signed the letter, which you can read below.

 

Dear Co-Chairs and Working Group Chairs of the Conference on the Future of Europe,

According to the Joint Declaration, “the Conference is based on inclusiveness, openness, and transparency” (emphasis added). Additionally, the Rules of Procedure stipulate that “the Plenary will on a consensual basis put forward its proposals to the Executive Board,” specifying that “consensus has to be found at least between the representatives of the European Parliament, the Council, the European Commission, as well as representatives from national Parliaments, on an equal footing”[1]. With this letter, we call on you to define and articulate a working procedure for the Conference Plenary and its Working Groups that ensures that both the Joint Declaration and the Rules of Procedure can be respected, notably with regard to transparency.

The Plenary is the Conference body that deliberates on the basis of all the Conference inputs with the purpose of developing a single set of EU reform proposals that can count on broad political and public support. In order to ensure that the Conference Plenary can live up to its task, as set out in the Joint Declaration and the Rules of Procedure, it needs a clearly defined working procedure. During the last Conference Plenary session on 21-22 January, several Co-Chairs/Working Group Chairs suggested elements of the process that may lead to the ultimate agreement on Conference Plenary proposals. However, until now, there is no clarity on how the Working Groups and Conference Plenary will develop final proposals for the Conference, let alone any guarantee that this will be done in a transparent and accountable manner.

This lack of clarity poses a great risk for the Conference. In the absence of a clearly defined, public process leading to Conference outcomes, the political divisions that explain why certain recommendations are integrated in the final set of Conference proposals, and others not, will remain opaque to the public. This is a recipe for disappointment.

The best way to ensure transparency and accountability in Conference Plenary decision-making is by adopting the ‘European Parliament method’. The European Parliament is one of the most transparent and accountable parliaments in the world: not only are Committee and Plenary meetings webstreamed, also (pretty much) all political positions of the European Parliament are the result of a clearly structured public voting process, allowing the European electorate to monitor the actions of individual MEPs at every step of the decision-making process.

In order to make sure that the Conference Plenary can live up to the same transparency standards as the European Parliament, we call on you to agree on and communicate a working procedure for the Conference Plenary and its Working Groups which ensures that the ultimate Conference outcomes are the product of a public process of voting involving all Conference Plenary members, while simultaneously respecting the need for consensus among the four institutional components of the Conference Plenary[2].

We count on you to do what is necessary to make this Conference a success!

Sincerely,

46 Conference Plenary members & 83 civil society organisations

Footnotes:

[1] See page 4 of the Joint Declaration and page 8 of the Rules of Procedure, both of which can be accessed via this webpage

[2] For a proposal on how to design such a working procedure in accordance with the Joint Declaration and the Rules of Procedure, see this 6-step plan.

 

Trilogue transparency in DMA & DSA negotiations

 

Together with over 40 organizations (including The Good Lobby), Transparency International coordinated a letter demanding transparency for the ongoing Digital Markets Act and Digital Services Act trilogue negotiations.

These two proposals have the potential to improve digital services and markets, but they have also been the target of intense lobbying. Big Tech has deployed its immense resources to try and influence this process at all stages and have achieved unparalleled levels of access. Civil society organisations and citizens cannot match the resources spent and the access gained by Big Tech.

Secrecy of policy making only further intensifies this unequal playing field, shutting citizens off from crucial discussions that will have an impact on their lives. 

This is why we are asking the negotiators to ensure the trilogue negotiations on the Digital Services Act and Digital Markets Act are genuinely transparent and open to citizens by:

  •     Publishing proactively, on a rolling basis a list of documents tabled during trilogue negotiations, in line the European Ombudsman’s recommendation;
  •     Making public an up-to-date calendar of trilogue meetings including summary agendas;
  •     Publishing proactively the four-column document on a rolling basis.

This is also a good opportunity to push for more transparency over trilogues – an area where reform is overdue.

You can read the letter here.