Monday, 13 April 2009

The Commission recommends its staff to be intransparent

In a Vademcum (handbook) leaked on Wikileaks it has become obvious that the Commission is advising its staff to write documents and emails in way that allow maximum intransparency.

I quote from the document (the most important things are on page 13):
When writing a report, avoid recording statements which may turn out to be politically embarrassing for those who have made them and avoid adding such comments to the report itself.
In other words, don't write everything that actually happened into your reports, but just record content that doesn't reveal the true intentions of actors. For emails:
[D]on't refer to the great lunch you have had with an industry representative privately or add a PS asking if he/she would like to meet for a drink
In other words: Don't leave any written proof that you are influenced by lobbyists and outside interests.
The best thing to do [when writing a report; JF] is to make two separate documents, i.e. one factual report, and a separate one with the assessment of the report (and possibly suggestions for follow-up). By doing this, we avoid having to "whiten" certain parts of the report, which creates an additional work burden (scrutinise the documents, determine what has to be deleted and justify why it has been deleted …) and which always carries a risk of confirmatory action, or even recourse to the Ombudsman or the Court (who may ultimately find that the invocation of exception grounds was not justified and even order the deleted parts to be disclosed …)
Or, differently said: Try to separate relevant parts from irrelevant parts of reports, because then it is easier to hide the relevant (i.e. judgemental) parts from the public.

This is very revelatory and although it is not surprising it is still shocking to see it on paper.

Congratulations, EU Commission, for your organised intransparency!

(via europa transparent coming via Corporate Europe Observatory (CEO) coming via EUobserver)

Read also:: Commission staff teaches others how it can be lobbied


Marie Amélie said...


thanks for your blog - made me learn a lot about Europe and the way EU Commission works.

I'm a French journalist and I'd like to contact you for a proposition.

Do you have an email to let you know a bit more about it?

Marie Amélie