European Court ruling on transparency is a breakthrough for democracy

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Today, the General Court of the European Union ruled that the European Parliament must in principle grant access to documents relating to ongoing trilogues (i.e. negotiating documents between the Parliament, the Council and the Commission on legislative proposals). The decision followed a request from 2015, in which Mr Emilio De Capitani asked the European Parliament for access to documents drawn up by the Parliament or made available to it which contain information concerning the positions of the institutions on ongoing co-decision procedures. First Vice-President of ALDE Sophie in ‘t Veld has long been advocating greater transparency of informal trilogues and has called on the Commission, the Council and the Parliament to do so e.g. by holding the meetings in public, publishing documentation including calendars, agendas, minutes or documents examined as well as decisions taken.

Sophie in ‘t Veld expressed her satisfaction at the positive outcome of the court case:

“This is a major breakthrough for European democracy. As of now negotiations on legislation will be much more transparent. More transparency means not only stakeholders but also citizens will be able to follow the legislative process closely and hold their politicians to account. This will make democracy more robust, and it will strengthen confidence in the EU. Today’s court ruling will greatly empower citizens.”

“I congratulate Mr De Capitani on his initiative. I had the experience myself of litigating for access to documents for many years. But transparency cannot be the fruit only of individuals who are willing to spend many years in court, fighting the culture of secrecy of the EU institutions. Transparency must become the rule as it is vital for a mature European parliamentary democracy. Commission and Council should draw the lessons from this ruling, and submit a comprehensive action plan for real transparency as soon as possible, in any case ahead of the European elections.”

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