Most of those working near the EU institutions recognise that when the Commission formally proposes a regulation, it is published in full. The proposal will normally be discussed thoroughly by EU Ambassadors before the EU Council of Ministers meetings. The issues will be discussed within the member states before the Council and sometimes even before the Commission proposal, but often the subject is not deemed interesting enough by the media to merit much debate. And, contrary to what Ms Helm says, the Council agenda is made public beforehand.
The Ministers at the Council, such as Home Secretary Michael Howard, are the democratically elected representatives of the member state governments. At the Council, as in any other international negotiating encounter, the ministers represent their government and are entrusted by their parliament to do so. Even so, at many Councils, they give only a provisional approval to proposals. The proposals are then sent to be scrutinised by the European Parliament, and often, to the Committee of the Regions and the Economic and Social Committee: all institutions with representatives from all over the EU. If members of national parliaments can be bothered, they, too, can scrutinise these proposals.