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Seminar on the future of EU transparency

Council of the European Union – Press Room, Europa Building, Brussels

The Strategic Agenda adopted by the European Council for the next five years emphasises that the EU institutions will respect the principles of democracy, rule of law, transparency and equality between citizens and between Member States. Moreover, the agenda emphasises the importance of engaging with citizens, civil society and social partners, as well as with regional and local actors. 

Democratic and effective governance is built upon legitimacy and trust. Upholding these values is of fundamental importance for the EU. It is also important to provide novel ways for citizens to participate in decision-making and encourage broad participation in the digital age. At the same time, more information is easily available than ever before. Information influencing is infiltrating our society, targeting not only elections, but also more broadly clouding the public debate. It has become more difficult to distinguish fake news from reliable and official information. Transparency is an effective means of fighting disinformation. When enough accurate information from reliable sources is available, there is less space for disinformation.

EU transparency has progressed significantly in the past two decades, but there are also new challenges. The Treaty of Lisbon updated the EU transparency regime in two significant respects. Firstly, it strengthened the principles of legislative transparency, and secondly, it broadened the scope of public access rules to cover all EU institutions, bodies, offices and agencies. The Court of Justice of the EU, through its jurisprudence on legislative transparency, has established certain criteria concerning the EU legislature, emphasising the role of transparency as a key facilitator of participatory rights and democratic participation in EU decision-making. EU agencies are increasingly tackling a number of key issues for European citizens and companies, and work together with national authorities that share documents and information. At the same time, technological changes are affecting how documents are produced and how they are made available.

All of these factors influence the way forward on how to reconcile the right of citizens to participate in decision-making processes on the one hand, and the right of the EU institutions to protect these processes if justified by other public interests or the need to guarantee their effectiveness and integrity on the other hand.

The aim of this seminar organised jointly by Finland’s Presidency and the Faculty of Law of the University of Helsinki is to take stock of recent developments and discuss how EU transparency should be developed in the future with the contributions of experts from EU institutions and agencies, civil society and academia. 

Structure of the seminar

Ambassador Marja Rislakki, Permanent Representative of Finland to the EU, will open the seminar, and discussions will be moderated by Päivi Leino-Sandberg, Professor of Transnational European law at the University of Helsinki. The seminar will explore the future of transparency in the EU under two themes. The first of these will aim to place transparency in a broader context, also taking into account the challenges posed by technological developments. The second theme of the day will focus on Regulation 1049/2001, taking stock of the case law and exploring how the Regulation has stood the test of the time.

Please kindly note that registering is mandatory for all participants, including those who already have access to the Council.

For further inquiries on the seminar, please contact [email protected] See for more information on the transparency agenda of the Finnish Presidency.

Provisional programme

9.00 Registration and coffee
10.00 Opening remarks - Marja Rislakki, Ambassador, Permanent Representative of Finland to the EU

Theme I - Moving forward on transparency 

Introduction by moderator Päivi Leino-Sandberg, Professor of Transnational European law, University of Helsinki

Reijo Kemppinen, Director-General, Communication and Information, General Secretariat of the Council
Mathieu Bion, Editor-in-chief, Agence Europe
Helen Darbishire, Vice President and Executive Director, Access Info Europe
Herwig Hofmann, Professor of European and Transnational Public Law, University of Luxembourg.

Discussion

12.30 - 13.30 Networking lunch

Theme II – Regulating access to documents, outlook for the next 20 years

Introduction by moderator Päivi Leino-Sandberg, Professor of Transnational European law, University of Helsinki

María Oliván-Avilés, Head of the Transparency, Document Management & Access to Documents Unit, Secretariat-General of the European Commission
Chiara Malasomma, Head of the Transparency Unit in the Directorate for Institutional Affairs and Legislative Coordination of DG PRES
Dirk Detken, Head of Legal Unit, EFSA General Secretariat of the Council

Discussion

Coffee Break

Onno Brouwer, Partner, Freshfields, Bruckhaus and Deringer
Anaïs Berthier, Senior Lawyer, ClientEarth
Hielke Hijmans, Doctor of Law, Member of the Meijers Committee
Graham Smith, Senior Adviser, Cabinet of the European Ombudsman

Discussion 

16:45 Closing remarks by the moderator.

Time

24.9.2019 9.00 – 17.00

Organiser

EU2019FI

More information