Transparency in the EU Institutions – An Overview

Paper by Gianluca Sgueo: “The concepts of transparency of the public sector has been in existence, in various forms, for centuries. Academics, however, agree on the fact that transparency should be qualified as a modern concept. The wave of government reforms that occurred in the 1950s and the 1960s fostered the culture of transparent, accessible and accountable bureaucracies. In the 1990s, following on the spread of technologies, terms like “Government 2.0” and “open government” were coined to describe the use that public administrations made of the Internet and other digital tools in order to foster civic engagement, improve transparency, and enhance the efficiency of government services.

Transparency has come to the fore again over the past few years. National and supranational regulators (including the European Union) have placed transparency among the priorities in their regulatory agendas. Enhanced transparency in decision-making is considered to be a solution to the decline of trust in the public sector, a limit to the negative impact of conspiracy theories and fake news, and also a way to revitalise civic engagement.

EU institutions promote transparency across different lines of action. Exemplary are the ongoing debates on reforming the legislative procedure of the Union, regulating lobbying activities, making available data in open format and digitalising services. Also relevant is the role of the European Ombudsman in promoting a culture of transparency at the EU level. 

Studies suggest that transparency and participation in public governance are having a positive impact on the accountability of EU institutions, and hence on citizens’ perceptions of their activities. The present briefing offers an overview of the actions that EU institutions are implementing to foster transparency, analyzing the potential benefits and briefly discussing its possible drawbacks…(More)”.