Oettinger’s transparency problem, part II

On Wednesday, I pointed out that Commissioner Oettinger, who handles matters of digital economy and society for the European Commission, has not been keeping up on publishing his meetings with lobbyists.

Though the Commission’s generic inquiry team hasn’t gotten back to me yet, I though I’d accelerate the process a little. So I’ve now sent a mail to the cabinet of First Vice President Timmermans, who is in charge of coordinating the Commission’s work on transparency:

Dear Ms Sutton,
dear Messrs Timmermans and Hager,

I am writing to you with a question regarding the publication of meetings by Commissioner Oettinger and his cabinet with interest representatives.

When the Commission announced on November 25, 2014, that it would henceforth publish all meetings that the Commissioners and their teams held with interest representatives, this was universally welcomed. Especially civil society organisations like FSFE greeted this announcement as an important step which would serve to increase the trust of European citizens in the Commission.

At the Free Software Foundation Europe, we are highly appreciative of the results this has brought, and we value the efforts made by the Commission to increase transparency through this mechanism.

So it is with some regret that we feel the need to point out that, while most Commissioners and teams publish their meetings with great diligence, some are unfortunately not living up to the expectations set by the Commission’s announcement from November.

Given FSFE’s focus on matters of digital policy, we see a specific need to highlight that Commissioner Oettinger and his cabinet appear to be somewhat behind on publishing their meetings on the relevant web pages.

The last meeting which Commissioner Oettinger has published took place on February 20, 2015:


The most recent published meeting of one of the Commissioner’s team members took place on March 25, 2015:


Given that Commissioner Oettinger is heading up, together with Vice President Ansip, one of the Commission’s flagship initiatives (which, accordingly, is hotly contested), the Digital Single Market, we submit that the highest standards of transparency on meetings should be applied here.

We hope that the Commission, and in particular Commissioner Oettinger and his cabinet, will see themselves able to update the published list of meetings at the earliest opportunity. We believe that a formal Request for Access to Documents is not needed to deal with such a routine matter, and are confident that the Commission will quickly move to rectify the situation.

In closing, please let me reiterate FSFE’s deep appreciation of the Commission’s commitment to transparency.


Karsten Gerloff
President, Free Software Foundation Europe

Let’s see if this brings any results. If not, there’s always the formal request for access to documents. But if we had to resort to this tool in order to remind the Commission of its own commitments, that would amount to a confession of failure on the part of the EC.