Volume 9 (2003) / Issue 1
On the surface, the transparency reform movements in the United States and the European Union appear to have much in common: both the US and the EU have embraced transparency as a means of bolstering public confidence in governance, and the EU's recently issued access regulation shares many features with the US Freedom of Information Act. The similarities end there, however. The goals of the EU reform movement are far more ambitious than those of the US. US reformers hoped that sunlight would put an end to the corruption and abuse of power that plagued the executive branch in the late 1960s and early 1970s, but they did not seek to change the decision-making process itself. In contrast, the EU has latched onto transparency reform as a means of democratizing and legitimizing EU governance. Unfortunately, reformers in the EU have yet to link transparency reforms with democratization of the legislative process. Although transparency is an invaluable tool with which the public can monitor EU governance, transparency alone, without concomitant increases in public opportunities to influence EU decision-making, cannot ameliorate the EU's infamous `democratic deficit'. Increased transparency must be coupled with public participation rights before reformers can accomplish their ambitious goal of bringing EU decision-making closer to Europeans.
All rights reserved