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EU: European Ombudsman says Council does not go far enough in openning up its meetings
01 January 2006
Council's decision to open more debates to the public is a step in the right direction
The European Ombudsman, P. Nikiforos Diamandouros, has welcomed the recent decision of the Council of the European Union to open more of its debates to the public. The Council announced its decision on 21 December 2005. According to the Ombudsman: "Citizens have a right to know what decisions are being taken in their name. The recent move by the Council is a step in the right direction."
Nevertheless, the Ombudsman points out that the Council will only open sessions related to the co-decision procedure, thereby covering only a part of the debates in the legislative process. In his special report, submitted to the European Parliament in October 2005, the Ombudsman went much further in calling on the Council to review its refusal to meet publicly "whenever it is acting in its legislative capacity". This followed a complaint from the German MEP, Elmar Brok, who argued that Council decisions must be taken as openly as possible.
The Ombudsman's special report will be discussed at the meeting of the Parliament's Committee on Petitions on 25 January, when Rapporteur David Hammerstein MEP will present his report on the matter. Mr. Diamandouros said: "I look forward to hearing Parliament's views on this issue which goes to the heart of what many see is wrong with the Union - namely that decisions are taken behind closed doors, in a way that is remote and disconnected from the citizens."
A special report is the strongest weapon of the Ombudsman in his efforts to promote a more transparent and open EU administration.
Full-text special report
For information about the special report: Mr. Gerhard Grill, Principal Legal Advisor, tel: +33 388 172423
For press inquiries: Ms Gundi Gadesmann, Press Officer, tel: +32 2 284 2609