It’s been high drama in the Brexit negotiations. British Prime Minister Theresa May and EU Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker seemed to be on the cusp of a deal, only to have the entire thing fall apart at the last minute. Some commentators have been speculating that Theresa May had failed to brief the Northern Irish Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) – whose support she relies on in Parliament – about the substance of her offer to Ireland over the Northern Irish border.
It’s difficult to know for certain what happened. Which begs the question: are the negotiations being conducted as openly as possible? Are all parties on the same page? Are citizens and their political representatives being kept up to date? Is there enough clarity over negotiating positions and demands?
Regular Debating Europe readers will know our “Ask” series. Previously, we’ve co-hosted a live #AskJuncker event with Jean-Claude Juncker, President of the European Commission (we did the same thing with Juncker back in 2016). Before that, we co-hosted something very similar with Juncker’s predecessor, José Manuel Barroso.
We also did an “Ask the President” series of interviews with former EU Council President Herman Van Rompuy in 2011 (and again in 2013). And, ahead of the 2014 European Parliament elections, we also ran “Ask the Candidates” interviews with the various candidates for EU Commission President.
Today, we’re once again hosting an “Ask” interview. This time we’re putting your questions to the European Ombudsman, Emily O’Reilly. As European Ombudsman, she deals with issues of maladministration, transparency, whistle blowing, and improper lobbying. She’s tasked with investigating complaints from citizens about poor administration by EU institutions or other EU bodies.
So, what sorts of complaints do our readers have? We’ll be hosting a series of interviews with Emily O’Reilly looking at different issues, but today we’re focusing on transparency. We had a comment from Sven who believes that EU negotiations (such as the Brexit negotiation) are being conducted too secretly. Is he right?
Next up, we had a comment from Davide, who wanted to see greater access to documents during trade talks. Do citizens (or at least MEPs) have enough access to documents during EU trade negotiations?
Finally, we had a comment sent in by Christos, who was divided over whether transparency is automatically a good thing in international negotiations. Don’t diplomats and negotiators need trust and privacy in order to reach agreement? Is there such a thing as “too much transparency” when it comes to trade talks?
Is transparency always a good thing in international negotiations? Are EU trade negotiations being conducted too secretly? Let us know your thoughts and comments in the form below and we’ll take them to policymakers and experts for their reactions!