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The problem with the Council, specifically, is that it is made up out of members of the executive nationally, but performs a legislative function on the European level. This was pointed out by Colman and others in the thread. We are used to most discussions in legislative organs to be public, but in the Council, until recently, nothing was public. Now that some steps in the legislative procedure have become public, we get longer pre-meeting lunches, dinners, etcetera. Anything to get the horse trading out of the open.
a swedish kind of death and migeru argue that the Council also provides a way for the national executive to increase its power and circumvent national democratic control, in making unpopular decisions, and then afterwards blaming the EU when it has to implement them back home. This is also known as policy laundering. I have argued the same here before. This is a real problem for democracy in the EU and for democracy at the national level. The same problem also arises with regard to all other international institutions. So solving the problem is crucial if we want more and better global governance.
One solution to this problem would be to have a European Freedom of Information act, which would allow news organisations and the European Parliament to open up any procedure in the Council. This would not necessarily solve the horse trading at the highest level, but it would be effective in bringing issues out in the open earlier. The majority of the decisions in the Council are already taken at the level of the committee of permanent representatives or lower levels, and the concrete effects are often determined only after legislation has been decided, through comitology. Opening these up to scrutiny, and giving the European Parliament some kind of means for intervening in the comitology procedure if it thinks politically controversial decisions are being taken, would solve most of the existing problems.
We also need more alert parliamentarians and a better press corps. And we could do some of the early warning ourselves. But without increased transparancy, this can only go so far.
However, when you say:
Now that some steps in the legislative procedure have become public, we get longer pre-meeting lunches, dinners, etcetera. Anything to get the horse trading out of the open.
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