Volume 54 (2017) / Issue 6
Who controls the information that is part of the EU legislative processes and is the process as a whole under control? This article explores the legal framework and the applicability of that framework to evolving informal practices by the three key institutions (EP, Council, Commission) involved in the EU legislative process. Given the legislative deadlock on an updated transparency regulation, there are challenges relating to the opacity of Council and Member State positions, legal advice and the so-called four-column documents, which are used to map out progress in interinstitutional negotiations. Currently, the institutions themselves keep control and adopt the relevant rules as a matter of internal (or interinstitutional) working arrangements. We argue that when the institutions exercise legislative functions they are in fact exercising highly political functions that define the fundamental policy choices of the Union’s action. This requires not only passive transparency in the form of access to documents but also proactive transparency by the institutions themselves.
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