Press release: Electing CHAMPIONS for a Social Europe: A Call for Commitment
Madrid, 2 October 2013 – In the run up to the European Parliament elections in May 2014, Access Info has today written to all 766 Members of the European Parliament informing them of opinion poll findings which show huge support for transparency in the areas such as the financial crisis and lobbying by business.
Over 80 % of the public wants greater transparency in areas such as Council decision-making, legal opinions on future laws, and spending of EU funds.
Access Info has also submitted to MEPs recommendations from the public which make clear that greater access to information must be a priority election issue if MEPs want to to tackle the EU’s “democratic deficit”.
The Citizen’s Report: What citizens recommend on EU participation, ethics and transparency
The issues that citizens identified almost unanimously in The Citizens Report are a lack of transparency, weak ethics regulation and low levels of citizen participation in the European Union. Citizens were also concerned about the lack of public awareness about the EU institutions and about how decisions are taken or laws are passed, and they regretted the fact that the European Union institutions were not leading by example in the fields of transparency and ethics because they felt that this permitted their national governments to remain lax on these issues.
Citizens recommend that:
• The EU’s transparency register should be made obligatory and decision-makers should publish information about the meetings they have held with lobbyists or other interest groups, whether they be NGOs, religious associations, trade unions or businesses.
• The EU recognise a wider right of access to information as opposed to strictly “access to official documents”. Citizens emphasised the need for proactive transparency and called for more publishing of relevant, detailed and up-to-date information about the EU’s decision-making process.
• The EU should focus more actively on citizen participation and take ambitious measures to ensure the participation of a diverse and multiple range of citizens and interest groups. Citizens believe that enhanced participation is an effective way to ensure that public interests are not over-dominated by the interests of private companies or lobbyists during the EU’s decision-making process.
• The EU should enact stricter ethics regulation including a tightening of the Code of Conduct for Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) in order to prevent conflicts of interest that might be created by the “revolving door” phenomenon, and when MEPs have second jobs.
The EU Citizens Opinion Poll – What Citizens Want from Brussels:
The EU Citizens Opinion poll was commissed by the EU Citizens Project Partners and was conducted in six EU Member States. Some of the main findings include that:
• 84% of people want full documentation published about what the European Central Bank is doing in response to the crisis
• 86% of respondents would like to see detailed financial reports and evaluations on how EU money is spent by Member States
• 85% of the respondents think that full information about Member States’ negotiations should be open to the public
• 74% of citizens believe it is important that citizens have access to the legal advice which underpins EU decision-making
• 73% are concerned that lobbyists representing the business sector have too much influence on EU decisions.
• 80% believe there should be mandatory regulation of lobbying to ensure a balanced participation of different interests in decision-making.