Transparency overrides the European Unions’ institutional secrecy

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Maurizio Turco

Transparency overrides the European Unions’ institutional secrecy

“Transparency overrides EU institutional secrecy”. With this title British newspaper The Times commented the 2005 judgement of the EU Court of Justice, which affirmed the citizens' right to know the legal advice provided by the Legal Service of the EU Council. In fact, the legal opinions often serve as an excuse for unpopular decisions, or decisions promoted by a lobby. This applies in particular to the Council and the Commission, both intergovernmental institutions and heirs to the Nation States' tradition of a Reason of State based on an exaggerated, unnecessary and often unfounded use of State secrecy.

Radical MEP Maurizio Turco presented the appeal against the Council's decision not to render a legal opinion elaborated by the Council's Legal Service public. Supported solely by the Kingdom of Sweden, Turco thus went directly against the Commission and the Council; while the European Parliament was blocked in its attempt to step in in favour of the appeal.... by the Parliament's Legal Service.

Previously, several organizations had presented a legal appeal to the Court to make the European institutions more transparent. For the first time, also a political discourse was proposed to the Court by the radical appeal; a discourse included in the judgement. Transparency contributes to the strengthening of democracy by allowing citizens to control all the information at the basis of a legislative act. In fact, the citizens' possibility to know the foundation of a legislative act is a precondition for the effective exercise of their democratic rights.

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Translation: Laura Harth


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