Emily O’Reilly seeks clarity on Eurogroup transparency proposals

Ombudsman wants more information on public access to unpublished documents

European ombudsman Emily O'Reilly has asked the president of the Eurogroup for more details on his proposals to improve the transparency of its work.

Ms O'Reilly has written to Dutch finance minister Jeroen Dijsselbloem, the president of the group of euro zone finance ministers, welcoming his recent proposal to publish documents such as meeting agendas, summing-up letters and other country-specific notes and information presented to the Eurogroup ministers.

Earlier this month, the 19 finance ministers in the Eurogroup agreed that meeting documents would be published “unless the institutions which drafted them object”. Documents that have “not been finalised or which contain market-sensitive information” will also not be made public, the group decided.

Ms O’Reilly has asked Mr Dijsselbloem to clarify the procedures in place for handling requests for public access to those Eurogroup documents that are not published “proactively”.

It is currently not possible to obtain an overview of the Eurogroup documentation that citizens can request, she added.

Ms O’Reilly also called for the transparency measures “championed” by Mr Dijsselbloem to be extended to the range of EU bodies and services that prepare Eurogroup meetings. These include the Economic and Financial Committee (EFC), the Economic Policy Committee (EPC) and the General Secretariat of the Council (GSC).

“My officials have not been able to find notices and provisional agendas of the meetings of relevant bodies on the Council’s public register, even though it is possible to do so for other Council preparatory bodies,” Ms O’Reilly writes.

In June 2015, Ms O’Reilly’s office received a complaint alleging a lack of transparency at the meetings of the Eurogroup in relation to its negotiations on a programme of financial assistance to Greece.

Laura Slattery

Laura Slattery

Laura Slattery is an Irish Times journalist writing about media, advertising and other business topics