Transparency as a Platform for Institutional Politics: The Case of the Council of the European Union

Open Access Journal | ISSN: 2183-2463

Transparency as a Platform for Institutional Politics: The Case of the Council of the European Union


  • Maarten Hillebrandt Faculty of Sociology, University of Bielefeld, Germany


Abstract  The question of transparency is widely regarded as a thermometer of the relation between the Council of the EU and the public at large. Relatively little attention however has been devoted to the implications of transparency (i.e., access for the general public) for inter-institutional information politics, even when the limited evidence suggests that the connection is considerable. This article asks how EU actors use Council transparency as a platform and for what reason. It approaches transparency as a policy that is developed in three arenas: the internal, the external political, and the external judicial arena. The article finds strong evidence in support of the view that the Council’s transparency policy played a central role in EU institutions’ attempt to advance their information ambitions. By strongly engaging with the issue of transparency particularly the European Parliament and its members succeeded at expanding their institutional information basis in an area where their political grip was traditionally at its weakest: the Foreign Affairs Council. Acting in turn as a bargaining chip, a political lever, or an alternative to institutional information, the Foreign Affairs Council’s transparency policy was thus clearly used to advance information agendas of oversight and legislative prerogatives.


Keywords  European Parliament; Foreign Affairs Council; parliamentary information; transparency


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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.17645/pag.v5i3.975


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