Stanley's blog

Transparency is a buzzword which the EU institutions use all the time. But do they practise it?

Utrecht University published last year a study which concluded that, “Expert bureaucrats decide on most EU regulations after proposal has been adopted.”

Experts from the Commission and Member States in so-called comitology groups are responsible for deciding the content of almost half of all EU regulations after the actual decision has been made by the European Parliament and the Council of Ministers.

The report argues that the extensive use of expert bureaucrats creates big problems for scrutiny and accountability.

The report notes that there are around 250 expert committees in the EU, which together take over 2 000 decisions ever year. 40% of these experts are not directly accountable to anyone – a problem made worse by the technicality of the subjects these groups deal with.

And yet:

Article 1 of the Treaty on European Union says:

“…in which decisions shall be taken as openly as possible and as close as possible to the citizens”.

Article 11 says:

“1 The institutions, by appropriate means, give citzens and representative associations the opportunity to make known and publicly exchange their views in all areas of Union action.
2 The institutions shall maintain and open, transparent and regular dialogue with representative associations and civil society.
3 The European Commission shall carry on broad consultations with parties concerned in order to ensure that the Union’s actions are coherent and transparent.”

There seems to be little connection between Articles 1 and 11 of the Treaty and comitology.

Author :


  1. The original Community concept — and it still remains open, given political will to do it– is that ALL legal instruments should be subject to democratic analysis, decision, control and post facto supervision. This would be accomplished through fully elected (not appointed) Consultative Committees, the Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of Regions. These CCs would set their own rules for the elections according to the treaties .
    The great advantage of this is that every directive would be analysed and debated by a network of associations in organised civil society. Lobby positions would be confronted by opposing lobbies and consumers — in public. The original Community idea required that Parliament should make studies of legislation to see if it was working or written in a user-unfriendly way.

  2. I wonder whether the decisions taken upon Articles 290 + 291 of the TFEU (Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union) will have any effect on accountability. So far it seems to me as if they won’t change much…

Comments are closed.