Wednesday 24 March 2010

EU Council preparatory bodies in 2010

When the news media - national or European - talk about the EU Council, they usually talk about the ministers. Nice photos, nice stories.

However, a lot of the important preparatory work of the Council is done behind the scenes, in committees, working parties, and special groups bringing together European diplomats, national officials, or military staff.

Here is the 2010 list of Council preparatory bodies that I found thanks to a draft letter of the Council to the European Parliament's international trade committee (which I covered last week).

The list is long and heavy, and beside the few names you find in Annex 2 these bodies remain faceless entities. Their participants are not known to the public; at least I am not aware of public participation lists.

The Council remains absolutely intransparent in this regard, although quite some intergovernmental pre-legislative and political work is done at these levels and knowing who represents the different countries in those meetings might be of some importance.

Due to this intransparency it is also hard to cover the work of these committees although I try from time to time. But without names and faces and proper documentation it is really difficult to build a story unless you find something funny or specially interesting.

I therefore think that it is time for the Council as the second legislative chamber of the EU to become much more transparent on the sub-minister level so that we know what bodies like COSI are doing in our name.

PS.: The last time I linked a list of Council preparatory bodies was in 2008, a list for 2009 can be found here.

Update: In the Annex of this document there is a list of Council preparatory bodies with interpretation in all EU languages.