Finnish, Swedish Ministers Appeal for EU Transparency

1 June 2012

The ministers of justice for Finland and Sweden have written a letter titled “True friends of transparency?” that cautions against moves they say would undercut access to information in the European Union.

The letter was received and described May 31 by the website Wobbing EU.

Swedish minister of justice Beatrice Ask (conservative) and Finnish minister of Justice Anna-Maja Henriksson (liberal) wrote that their countries do not support a text drafted by the European Council, under the leadership of the Danish minister of European Affairs Nicolai Wammen. (See previous report.)

“The Council has, upon request, recently given the Danish Presidency the mandate to engage in so-­called trilogue discussions with the European Parliament and the Commission. The mandate is based on a compromise text which would, no doubt, lead to less transparency. Needless to say, our countries did not support that text,” according to the letter.

Wobbing EU reported that on June 1 “member countries’ press attaches and civil servants will meet on a working group level in order to discuss yet another mandate to be endorsed by the EU-ambassadors next week.”

The Swedish and the Finnish ministers also wrote:

The Lisbon Treaty clearly demands more transparency in the EU, and especially so in legislative procedures. A second given would be that in today’s Europe of turbulence and disappointment European decision-­makers would hurry to do what they can in order to enhance citizen trust and participation.

The letter concludes:

All in all, we are concerned that the EU institutions will miss out on this momentum to grant the citizens the level of transparency they are entitled to. Since the beginning of negotiations -­ more than four years ago -­ we have been clear that we will not accept a reform leading to less transparency. We trust that Denmark and the EP will see to it that no such proposal is even put on the table.

Who’s with us?

“The Danish minister Nicolai Wammen has previously commented the negotiations in general terms in a written statement,” Wobbing EU said. In his comment he wrote: “If we succeed in getting a result, this will mean that Denmark has made sure that openness in all EU institutions will be secured for the future to the benefit of all citizens and enterprises in daily touch with the EU-cooperation.” According to Wobbing EU, “Nicolai Wammen has so far not commented directly to the earlier appeal from the Swedish minister Ask, and has chosen not to take direct questions from journalists on this subject.”

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