We continue to analyse the European treaties with Article 10 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, which makes it very clear that every citizen has the right to participate in the democratic life of the Union and decisions at the level of the European institutions shall be taken as openly and as closely as possible to the citizen.. This requires transparency in decision-making and public consultation when a new regulation or a new directive is initiated.
Currently, under the pretext of speeding up the legislative process, the practice of “trilogues” at the level of the European institutions has been established. In particular, in the legislative procedure, the Council, the Parliament and the Commission are organizing informal meetings to facilitate agreement on the proposed text. Representatives of the Council, the Commission and Parliament (in general the rapporteur, the shadow rapporteurs and the chair of the committee responsible) are present at these meetings.
Trilogues have gained increasing importance over the last period. The problem, however, is that this practice loses transparency, first of all because the negotiations are conducted with closed doors and very few people have access. Secondly, this increases the power of the institutions that were not elected by citizens and weakens the power of the European Parliament, the only institution directly elected by citizens, thus preventing access to information necessary for the legislative process to be democratic.
In addition, small political groups at the level of the European Parliament are not on an equal footing with large groups because they will have fewer opportunities to express their views on legislative acts and thus the political interest is higher than the interest of citizens affected by the respective acts.
The lack of transparency of the trilogues has also been investigated by the European Ombudsman, who has already proposed that the three institutions should make public: the dates of the trilogues and the agenda of the meetings, the initial proposals, the working documents, the final compromise text, the list of persons involved and, as far as possible, the list of documents used during the negotiations. The purpose of these measures is of course to ensure that decisions are actually taken openly and close to citizens, according to the Treaties. It remains to be seen, however, whether and to what extent European institutions will follow these recommendations.