MEP Welcomes EU Moves Toward Transparency

22 December 2005
Scottish National Party MEP Alyn Smith today welcomed the decision of the European Council to open some of its discussions and voting sessions to members of the public and media but called for even greater openness in the EU.

The European Council, where member states discuss and vote on EU legislation, previously met behind closed doors. The member states agreed yesterday (Wednesday 21 December) to allow the public and journalists to attend discussions on legislation where the European Parliament has co-decision powers.

However this only applies to the initial discussion and the final decision, leaving the negotiations behind closed doors. Opening other sessions to the public will be at the discretion of the Council and Presidency.

Commenting on the decision Mr Smith said

"This is a welcome move and about time but the Council will still be one of the most secretive decision making bodies in Europe if not the world. As co-decision legislation is developed all meetings should be open to the public and the media. The Parliament is open in its activities on these issues, the Council should do the same.

"I am pleased to see that the EU appears to be learning lessons from its member states and welcome the move to transmit these proceedings on the internet, something that the Scottish Parliament has done since 1999.

"Hopefully this will make the Council and individual Ministers more accountable for their decisions. I'll certainly be keeping an eye on the UK's actions. I sincerely hope this move toward transparency doesn't stop here and urge the council to consider opening up other areas of discussion to the public in particular its discussions on Justice and Home Affairs.

"It is unacceptable for these meetings to take place behind closed doors when the decisions taken can have a big impact on our daily lives."