Transparency in EU policy making: a modest proposal

Today I participated in a lunch discussion run by EurActiv that was supposed “to explore the opportunities for more transparent and efficient EU

Under discussion was an EU-funded project that would somehow rank people trying to influence policy making in Brussels, and make it easier to see who’s working on what.This would supposedly make the whole policy making process in the EU more open and efficient.

Fair enough. But while we were looking at the slides and nibbling sandwiches, it occurred to me that there’s a much, much simpler way to achieve the same goal. It’s called transparency.

In order to maximise participation on policy processes, the standard approach of the EU institutions should be full transparency. For each policy initiative, the EC, EP, and the Council – at the very least – should set up a web page showing the following information:

  •  all relevant official documents
  •  all input  submitted by interest groups and the general public
  •  names, contact info, functions of all officials working on the issue
  •  official diaries of all officials working on the issue, showing who they met with. (This is standard practice in Finland, and perhaps elsewhere.)

In addition, all contracts between public bodies and their suppliers should be made public. (This is already being done in Sweden, and perhaps elsewhere.)

It goes without saying that all public data should be made publicly available in machine-readable formats based on open standards, and licensed for use without restrictions.

I challenge you to come up with a valid reason why this would  not be a good thing.