60 Ideas for Europe

It’s often claimed the EU is democratic because MEPs are elected and Council members are national representatives.

However, insiders know that there are numerous other participants in the law-making process, and some are not as visible as others.

There are lobbyists, who sometimes conceal the fact that they’re working on behalf of interest groups and businesses. There are expert groups, with members who are also seeking to promote their own interests. And there are comitology groups.

It has been persuasively claimed that these groups are so closely involved in the law-making process that they sometimes even have a say in the final wording of laws.

But who are they, and what gives them the legitimacy to do this? These questions are usually unanswered. They’re not elected, and the Commission usually refuses to identify them.

Time after time, studies show that successful states are transparent states. Closed states, by contrast, suffer problems – they’re less democratic, they suffer economically, and they are less innovative and fair.

The EU’s policy and law-making system is that of a closed state. It’s no coincidence that economic performance is poor compared to the USA.

Europe should open up its opaque system. It’s currently planning a register of lobbyists, but this will be incomplete. The expert groups are still anonymous. Comitology is poorly reported, and it’s impossible to tell how law has been influenced by vested interests.

Open Europe up!

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  1. Your proposal is right but your analysis is naive. What matters is to have more review and more powers for the European Parliament.

    Comitology is available in the databases but mostly of little practical interest.

    What concerns me is the creation of advisory boards for the Commission, highlevel groups and transnational constructs as the Transatlantic Economic council, that are dominated by institutional lobbyists from the big industry.

    Lobbying per se is good and helpful. The problem is intermediation, that is if not the interested parties concerned raise their voice but intermediaries and PR professionals do it for them. This creates these clouds of lobby speak and pollutes the debate.

    The solution can be to decentralise the Commission as to get it more in touch with real stakeholders.

    The other solution is more transparency of the Council and the Commission.

    It would be great if review contributions and opinions regarding legislative acts could always be voiced over the internet, e.g. to have a webforum for each directive and ordinary people can assist the rapporteur.

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