Secrecy, Efficiency, Transparency in EU Negotiations: Conflicting Paradigms?

Open Access Journal | ISSN: 2183-2463

Article | Open Access

Secrecy, Efficiency, Transparency in EU Negotiations: Conflicting Paradigms?

  • Päivi Leino UEF Law School, University of Eastern Finland, Finland

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Abstract:  This contribution considers how the values of transparency and efficiency are realised in the context of “EU negotiations” both in the internal and the external sphere. Legislating comes with a presumption of openness in the EU, while international negotiations have traditionally been assumed to require secrecy. However, irrespective of the basic paradigms, the institutions often appear to follow a rather simple rationale that secrecy makes better decisions, both in internal and external affairs. Similar efficiency concerns seem to relate to protecting the procedure of decision-making from external influence. Therefore, the fundamental trade-off between democratic accountability and efficiency in the external and internal fields might not be all that different: efficiency is linked with secrecy, and comes at a cost for participation and openness. I explain how the two paradigms—openness and transparency in legislative work and secrecy in international negotiations have recently developed, and how the values of openness and efficiency have been addressed by the Court of Justice of the European Union in its recent jurisprudence. This discussion witnesses to a possibility that the old secrecy paradigm might be about to break in international relations while a new transparency paradigm in EU legislative work is struggling to emerge.

Keywords:  EU; international relations; negotiations; secrecy; transparency



© Päivi Leino. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 license (, which permits any use, distribution, and reproduction of the work without further permission provided the original author(s) and source are credited.