Letter: Less secrecy in EU deals

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Sir: Sarah Helm's account of secret deals in the Council of Ministers ("EU faces legal storm over backroom deals", 23 June) being used to limit the applicability of certain EU Directives underlines the need for the 1996 round of reforms to begin with the Council itself. It is scandalous that in a Union of democratic states the senior arm of the legislature should conduct its affairs in secret session.

When acting in its legislative mode the Council should meet in public and its proceedings - including the amendments discussed and voting records - should be published. Not only would this add clarity to the often Byzantine methods by which EU laws come into being, it would also help national parliamentarians to hold their ministers to account and improve the quality of information available to the European Parliament, as well as keeping the electorate aware of what is being done in their name.

This reform is essential whatever direction the Union takes after the 1996 IGC, whether towards a closer federal structure or a looser community of nation states. Either way the Council must open up its proceedings to become truly accountable to its citizens.

Yours sincerely,

John Parry


International Relations Committee

European Movement

London, SW1

23 June