More pressure on Council to open up deliberations to the public

The European Ombudsman has begun looking into an MEP’s complaint that the Council’s Rules of Procedure do not allow sufficient public access to information on the latter institution’s deliberations.

The European Ombudsman, Nikiforos Diamandouros announced on 8 January 2004 that he was investigating a complaint from MEP Elmar Brok (EPP, Germany) and a representative of the youth group of the CDU (Christian Democratic Union).

Their complaint concerns an alleged discrepancy between the Council's Rules of Procedure (Articles 8 and 9) and the Treaty on European Union (Article 1 (2)) on the level of public access to legislative meetings of the Council. They seek amendments to the effect that when acting in its legislative capacity the Council should always meet in public.

In response to a letter by the plaintiffs in September 2003, the Secretary General of the Council Javier Solana said that the rules were in line with what was agreed at the European Council in Seville, that the issue had been widely supported during the IGC and that it should therefore be discussed again when talks on the draft constitution resume.

The Ombudsman has asked the Council for its opinion on the complaint by 31 March 2004.

In July 2003, in an own-initiative report concerning a regulation on access to Parliament, Council and Commission documents, (MEP Michael Cashman (PSE, UK) welcomed the steps that had been taken so far but highlighted a number of areas (eg the inclusion of European Council documents in the regulation) where improvement was needed (see

EURACTIV 12 September 2003).

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