Letter: Secret power of the Eurocrats

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The Independent Online
Sir: John Lichfield ("Time for real Euro democracy", 7 September) failed to mention the biggest bone of contention between the European Parliament, which is striving for increased openness, and the secretive Council of Ministers: "commitology".

This is a Euro-word coined to describe a system where hundreds of largely secret committees have an input into all aspects of EU legislation. A topical example is the veterinary committee, recently in the headlines in relation to the embargo on British beef.

The European Parliament, via its Budget Committee, has been leading the fight for increased openness, its bargaining tool being that it controls the pounds 16m it costs to run these committees annually. Parliament's requests are simple: that members of these committees should make a declaration of interests and that meetings should normally be held in public. But, although half the pounds 16m budget hangs in the balance, member states' governments still refuse to concede.

The Council is a closed shop, and until the powers that be in Westminster realise that they alone have real power to enforce change Europe will never be fully accountable.


(Merseyside East and Wigan, Lab)

European Parliament Socialist Group Spokesperson on Budgetary Affairs