Council Transparency

The Council of the European Union is the EU institution that represents the interests of the Member States.

It is not only one of the most powerful institutional actors in the EU legislative process but also the most opaque institution in Brussels, publicly known as a ‘black box’.  Council proceedings, therefore, have wider implications of the democratic legitimately of the decision-making process and necessitate a considerably higher degree of transparency and accountability than what is currently in place.

Whereas the European Parliament and the European Commission are already operating with greater transparency and accountability, it remains virtually impossible for citizens to understand how decisions are made in the Council. Finding out whether their national representatives were in favour or against a certain provision is almost impossible and stands in the way of meaningful participatory policy-making and being able to hold governments to account. Despite decisions by the European Court of Justice asking for greater transparency of Council decision-making, as well as calls by National Parliaments and civil society, the Council has been extremely reluctant to commit to any reforms and to implement concrete improvements to increase transparency and accountability.

TI EU calls for the Council to fully commit to best practices in transparency by publishing detailed negotiating positions of Members States, overhauling its access to documents policy, increasing transparency of the legislative process, and opening internal deliberations to the wider-public.

For further details on our work on Council transparency:
– 2014 Report on the European Union integrity system
– 2016 case study on Council decision-making