Sir or Madam, dear friends,
In March, the European Court has ruled for much more transparency in EU legislation. Yesterday, President Antonio Tajani (Forza Italia) replied to me that he did not want to take advantage of these opportunities. To convince him and to use the full potential of the new judgment for more transparency, I would like to ask you for help!
European laws are a great opportunity to bring democracy on an equal footing with multinational corporations. Even Facebook, for example, cannot escape the new EU General Data Protection Regulation. This makes it all the more important that European laws are not written with an overwhelming influence of powerful lobbies, but that the promise of equality made in the EU Treaties is kept. The Treaty of Lisbon stipulates that “the Union shall observe the principle of the equality of its citizens, who shall receive equal attention from its institutions, bodies, offices and agencies” (Article 9). The basic prerequisite for equal access to legislation is its transparency.
In March, the European General Court ruled in favour of Emilio de Capitani and against the European Parliament and thus in principle granted free access to intermediate stages of negotiations on EU legislation. 70 to 80 percent of EU laws are negotiated in an informal short-cut of the ordinary legislative procedure. In these non-transparent “trialogue” negotiations between Commission, Council of Member States and Parliament, the national governments in the Council in particular insist on the secrecy of their positions while the negotiations continue – often for years. The General Court rejected the arguments put forward by the Council, the Commission and the official representatives of Parliament and ordered open access to the so-called four-column documents. These documents also contain the secret compromise wordings in the negotiation process. The versions of the Council also contain the positions of the individual Member States.
The ruling was a major breakthrough for transparency and allows citizens free access to the back rooms of EU legislation that national governments have so far blocked. The application of the ruling can ensure that national ministers have to take a stance on compromises reached during ongoing negotiations and can no longer hide completely behind their colleagues while blocking tax justice, consumer protection or environmental protection. However, the court’s restriction was that the obligation to publish only documents after inquiries of individual citizens. I have therefore asked the President of Parliament to set an example for European democracy and to make all four-column documents public on his own initiative.
Yesterday, President Tajani wrote to me that he does not want to take advantage of his new room of maneuver and wants to continue waiting for individual requests. The court case itself became necessary because all the Christian Democratic leaders of the EU institutions did not want to grant citizens public access to documents – not Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, not Council President Donald Tusk and also not Parliament President Antonio Tajani. The report on transparency, accountability and integrity in the EU institutions, drafted on a Green initiative and adopted by the European Parliament in September 2017, actually called on Parliament to treat trialogue documents in the same way as other EU legislative documents, i.e. to publish them on its own initiative. But that is exactly what our President Tajani is blocking now.
I would therefore like to ask you to show the President of Parliament that citizens are indeed interested in what laws are being drafted. Below you will find a list of all current legislative procedures, the draft e-mail and the contact form of the competent body at the European Parliament. In order to keep track for all of us, you can mark in the list itself for which legislative procedures the documents have already been requested and who is waiting. We would also be pleased to get an e-mail with a copy of your request.
Thank you and with green European greetings
Make Trialogues transparent!
And that is how to do it:
1. Check the list of current trialogues and mark what you are requesting: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1rIxh1LgIJNMEhlbor89R7ItDYsXieqPu0-7wfLGaX88/edit#
2. Use the contact form of the European Parliament: https://www.secure.europarl.europa.eu/atyourservice/en/askEP.html
3. Send an e-mail to the European Parliament through that contact form:
Subject: Request for four-column documents
Ladies and gentlemen,
Under the right of access to documents in the EU treaties, as developed in Regulation 1049/2001, I am requesting all four-column documents of the trialogue negotiations on XXX INSERT: Title of an ongoing trialogue from the list above XXX.
As you are also entitled to a summer holiday, I look forward to receiving your reply by 15 September. However, the best way to achieve transparency in European legislation would be to automatically make all relevant trialogue documents public.
Thank you for your efforts!
With kind regards,
XXX INSERT: your name XXX
EU General Court judgement:
Letter to President Tajani:
Answer letter from President Tajani: https://sven-giegold.de/wp-content/uploads/2018/07/2018-07-12_AntonioTajani_Trilogue-transparency_small.pdf
Study by the NGO Corporate Europe Observatory on the major lobbying influence of accounting firms: https://sven-giegold.de/accounting-firms-influence-on-eu/