What is the problem?
As the European Union evolves from a purely intergovernmental to an ever more integrated supranational body, the democratic legitimacy gap has received increasing levels of attention. Successive treaty reforms have given the European Parliament greater powers, but more can and must be done to make the EU a leader in open government, in particular as regards transparency and accountability of the Council of the EU.
The College of Europe is the post-graduate university focusing on EU studies in all its aspects, and brings together young and bright minds determined to work in European affairs. The College is highly-regarded among EU decision-makers and we look forward to engaging with the alumni of the CoE Transparency Group as they pursue their careers in Brussels and beyond.
Our cooperation with the College of Europe in Bruges started with the 2015/16 academic year, in an effort to raise awareness on issues of democratic legitimacy and transparency among students eager to work for and with the EU institutions in Brussels.
As part of this initiative, we call on students to focus their Master’s theses on these topics, with Transparency International EU issuing an annual thesis prize for the best thesis on issues of corruption, transparency and accountability. The winning student is granted a scholarship for theTransparency International Summer School which takes place annually in July in Vilnius, Lithuania, and brings together anti-corruption professionals from around the world.
The announcement led to the initiative for a student-run ‘Transparency Group’, with students choosing topics of interest early in the academic year, producing policy papers with the guidance and feedback of TI EU, and organsing a conference with workshops on the topics chosen. In 2016, this took the form of the “EU Accountability Labs”, a series of workshops we held in Bruges as well as at the European Parliament’s Youth Event.