MEPs’ attendance records set for publication

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Details of MEPs’ attendance in parliamentary meetings will be published on the European Parliament’s website, it emerged yesterday (22 January), marking the first major development since the adoption of new guidelines on access to documents last week.

Accepting a request from Italian MEP Marco Cappato (ALDE), the Parliament’s Bureau has agreed to put online “all data” regarding attendance of MEPs in plenary and committee meetings. 

The Bureau’s decision represents the first stage of the Parliament’s response to last week’s adoption of a report calling on the EU assembly to make details of MEPs’ activities at work available on its website (EURACTIV 15/01/09). 

In a reply to Cappato dated 13 January, European Parliament Vice-President Diana Wallis (ALDE) – responsible for transparency issues – wrote that “information already available separately concerning members’ attendance in plenary and committee meetings should be published in collated form on the Internet site of the European Parliament before the 2009 European elections”. 

Towards a ‘new era of openness’? 

Hailing the development, Cappato recalled that previous attempts to publish such records had been refused, and expressed hope that yesterday’s move was an “indication of a new era of openness that will also be extended to cover information related to use of public funds such as expenses and financial interests”. 

The Bureau’s decision should allow the Parliament to “implement the plenary decision to make available through search criteria on [its] website more and easily accessible information on MEPs’ activities and attendance in absolute as well as relative terms,” the ALDE member said. 

The extra data should be online in time for this summer’s elections to the EU assembly in June. 

European Parliament Vice-President Diana Wallis (ALDE), responsible for transparency issues, said the Bureau's decision was designed to make publicly available information on MEPs' activities "more accessible to the public" ahead of elections to the EU assembly in June. 

Italian MEP Marco Cappato (ALDE), who tabled the original request, described the Bureau's decision as "a first step towards the establishment of a public register to access data on the activity and participation" of MEPs in the Parliament's activities. 

"Thanks to the adoption of my report on public access to documents, we have finally overcome internal obstacles to a genuine policy of transparency in time for the European elections," Cappato continued. 

Entitlement to access European Commission, European Parliament and EU Council documents is considered a fundamental right of European citizens and a key element of the wider debate surrounding the transparency and openness of the EU institutions. 

Adopting a report by Italian ALDE MEP Marco Cappato last week (14 January), the European Parliament urged the Union's institutions to improve the public's access to documents, warning that "accessing information relating to the EU institutions still remains an obstacle-strewn path for ordinary citizens" (EURACTIV 15/01/09). 

Last December, an independent website monitoring the activities of all 785 parliamentarians in an attempt to make them accountable for their actions was forced to shut down due to lack of funding and technical maintenance (EURACTIV 01/12/08). It was developed by the Romanian Institute for Public Policies. 

  • June 2009: Elections to the European Parliament. 

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