Civil society calls for reform of trialogues in a letter to EU Commission, Parliament and Council

By EDRi · September 30, 2015

European Digital Rights (EDRi), together with 17 signatory organisations, today sent an open letter to European Parliament President Martin Schulz, Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker and Council Secretary-General Jeppe Tranholm-Mikkelsen, calling for a major reform of the so-called “trialogues”.

“Trialogues cannot be a means for EU institutions to circumvent their obligations with regard to transparency and good administration,” said Joe McNamee, Executive Director of European Digital Rights. “Almost all EU legislative files are now agreed using the trialogue system, often at an unacceptably early stage in the decision-making process. A major reform is necessary in order to enable proper public scrutiny of EU decision-making,” he added.

These informal inter-institutional meetings between the European Parliament, the Council of the European Union and the European Commission have become an established feature of EU decision-making. While they are originally aimed at increasing efficiency by means of achieving early agreements on legislation, trialogues undermine accountability and transparency of the EU legislative process. Very little information is available to the public because these meetings take place behind closed doors. Only well-resourced lobbies have access to trialogue documents. What about citizens? Ultimately, trialogues put the European Parliament, the only EU institution which is directly elected by citizens, in a weak position and, in practice, actively discriminate against citizens.

The European Ombudsman launched an investigation on trialogues, and hosted an event on the “International Right to Know Day” where several stakeholders offered their points of view with the Ombudsman. We sent this open letter to support the European Ombudsman’s initiative for reform.

The letter call for public access to be granted to the trialogue meetings, and for the systematic and timely publication of all trialogue documents. The letter remains open to signatories.

Current signatories:
EDRi, Access, Access Info Europe, Bits of Freedom, Chaos Computer Club (CCC), Code Red, Corporate Europe Observatory (new), Digitale Gesellschaft, Electronic Frontier Finlad (EFFI), GONG (new), Initiative für Netzfreiheit, IT-Political Association of Denmark, IuRE, Kairos Europe, La Quadrature du Net, Panoptykon Foundation, Statewatch, Vrijschrift,, X-net.

Read more:

European Ombudsman’s inquiry on trialogues’ transparency

The Council challenges the right of the European Ombudsman to conduct an inquiry into secret “trilogues” (in which most EU legislation is decided)

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