Members of the national parliaments can obtain information on processes in Brussels via an internal EU database. Because the media also have access to the documents, this access is to be cut off.
The Secretariat of the EU Council plans to restrict the access of national parliaments to its legislative database.The aim is to prevent the unauthorised disclosure of documents, especially to the media. This was reported last week by the Brussels-based news agency Agence Europe, which specialises in EU activities. According to the report, several member states, including Germany, have spoken out against these plans.
The General Secretariat of the Council is a permanent institution that assists the six-monthly rotating Council presidency in dealing with legislative initiatives. In the password-protected legislative database, current proposals from the Commission or the Council Presidency, but also reports from agencies such as Frontex or Europol or other EU departments are distributed. Members of national parliaments also have access to it, but this has not been implemented in all member states.
Many of the documents are classified as “limited” and may only be read by members of the Council or parliamentarians’ offices dealing with them. Nevertheless, they repeatedly reach the media, where they are usually described as “confidential EU documents” that were available to the editors. The German “Welt”, for example, regularly reports on such papers to support the narrative of a “migration crisis”. Der Spiegel”, on the other hand, was able to use such documents to substantiate its research on the pushback of migrants in violation of international law.
According to the agency report, Austria, Denmark, Hungary, Italy, Latvia, the Netherlands and Slovakia have also opposed restricting national parliaments’ access to the Council’s database. This undermines efforts to ensure transparency and control the legitimacy of political action at the European level, writes Agence Europe on the reasons. Cutting off this access would be “a huge own goal” on the part of the EU institution, a diplomatic source is quoted as saying. In the run-up to the European elections in June 2024, this would send the wrong signal.
Each EU member state sends ambassadors to various Council working groups. The Permanent Representatives Committee deals with higher-level matters and final decisions on legislation. There, too, the proposal of the Council Secretariat is now being discussed, the agency said. However, it is unclear who will ultimately be allowed to decide on restricting national parliaments’ access to the database. The Secretariat is referring to the EU Council’s Rules of Procedure, which state that the portal should not be accessible to the public.
Published in German in „nd“.