• 14 June 2016 - Matt Carthy – [E-004832-16] - Subject: Transparency:
When Mr Juncker assumed office as President of the European Commission, he made a commitment to enhance transparency by publishing more information about meetings and providing greater access to documents relating to negotiations for the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP). Three weeks ago, and 2.5 years into his term, he launched a public consultation on making the Transparency Register mandatory.
On 11 November 2014 the Commission published a communication on the Commission working methods 2014-2019. In this communication, the Commission stated that, as a rule, Commissioners must not meet with professional organisations or self-employed individuals that are not on the Transparency Register.
Could the Commission please explain why this ‘rule’ was included in a communication instead of in one of the Commission decisions adopted later that month, namely decisions C(2014)9048 and C(2014)9051, both on the subject of transparency. Including this rule in a decision would have given it much greater legal significance.
Could the Commission provide details as to whether a monitoring system has been put in place to ensure that Commissioners abide by this rule?
Could it also explain why this rule was not extended to cover all officials working at the Commission?
Answer given by First Vice-President Timmermans on behalf of the Commission (27 July 2016):
« In line with Decisions C(2014)9048 and C(2014)9051, Commissioners, their Cabinet members and Directors-General publish information on meetings with interest representatives on their respective websites and under their own responsibility. No specific monitoring system has been put in place as disclosure in the public domain implies that the implementation of the rules can be closely scrutinised by stakeholders, the media and citizens.
The rule that Commissioners, their Cabinet members and Directors-General should not meet interest representatives that are not on the Transparency Register was included in the Working Methods of the European Commission 2014-2019. The working methods are administrative rules laid down by the President on the basis of Article 17(6) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the EU (TFEU) and an appropriate place to set out internal instructions.
These rules apply to the top decision-makers at the political level and those directly responsible for advising them at the civil-service level in view of the special role and responsibilities allocated to the persons holding such positions. Extending the reporting requirements to all staff would create additional administrative burdens without bringing proportionate added-value. In addition, all staff are advised to check the credentials of interest representatives to make sure they are registered in the Transparency Register and if, they are not, encourage them to register.».