Legislating Behind Closed Doors

The European Ombudsman has found that the EU Council of Ministers has given no valid reasons for refusing to convene in public whenever it acts in its legislative capacity. The Council is the main decision-making body of the European Union. The ombudsman’s opinion was triggered by a complaint from German MEP Elmar Brok of the German CDU (Christian Democratic Union) and a representative of the youth group of the CDU.

The Council argued that the degree of openness of its meetings is a matter of political choice to be made by the Council itself. In his report (pdf) to the European Parliament the ombudsman made the recommendation that, “The Council of the European Union should review its refusal to decide to meet publicly whenever it is acting in its legislative capacity.”