of the Union
241. Title VI of the draft Treaty is entitled the
Democratic Life of the Union. This section of the Treaty contains
a key provision relating to the openness and transparency of the
Union's institutions. There are also some broad and important
statements of the principles of democratic equality and of representative
and participatory democracy (Articles I-44, 45 and 46).
242. Article 46 provides that one million citizens
of the EU "coming from a significant number of Member States"
may invite the Commission to bring forward a legislative proposal.
This is a novel provision, the details of which will be set out
in an EU law. How far the procedure will allow the individual
citizen, as opposed to lobbyists, groups and organisations, to
have an impact on the Commission remains to be seen. It is therefore
too early to judge whether the new petition procedure will provide
an effective supplement to the present ability of any individual
(albeit not enshrined in the Treaty) to raise a matter directly
with the Commission.
243. The provision concerning representative democracy
has been added since our earlier Report. It describes how citizens
are represented directly and indirectly:
"Citizens are directly represented at Union
level in the European Parliament. Member States are represented
in the European Council and in the Council of Ministers by their
governments, themselves accountable to national parliaments, elected
by their citizens".
244. Given the comparative remoteness of the European
Parliament and MEPs, Article I-45 underscores the need for national
parliaments and individual parliamentarians to be aware and react,
both through the formal process of Parliamentary scrutiny and
in other ways, to developments in the Union.
245. As we indicated in our earlier Report it will
be in the translation of the principles of democratic equality
and of representative and participatory democracy into rights
for the individual and into ensuring reformed conduct on the part
of the institutions that the real benefit of such provision will
be judged. So of potentially greater practical significance for
the individual are those provisions in Title VI dealing with the
European Ombudsman, the transparency of the proceedings of Union
institutions, access to documents and the protection of personal
data (Articles I-48, 49 and 50 respectively).
246. Some important changes have been made. One such
is the requirement that the Council of Ministers shall meet in
public when examining and adopting a legislative proposal (Article
I-49(2)). This is welcome, though precisely what change it will
make beyond what was agreed at the Seville European Council has
yet to be seen.
247. It is unclear whether the "and" in
the phrase "examining and adopting" in Article I-49(2)
is conjunctive or disjunctive. If the latter (which we hope is
the correct interpretation) we pose the following questions:
far will "examining" extend?
it be the case that as soon as a proposal has been adopted by
the Commission and submitted to the Council all discussions in
the Council (presumably at Ministerial level but not in Working
Groups or in COREPER) will be in public?
will those matters now dealt with as "A points" (i.e.
without substantive debate) be dealt with?
Council agendas be made available publicly and in good time before
248. As we have already argued (see paragraphs 160173
above) it is unclear whether the examination of legislation will
be the monopoly of the Legislative Council (one of whose functions
it would be to "consider" and "enact" legislation
- Article I-23(1)) and/or how far other Council formations will
be able to discuss legislative proposals. The Government acknowledges
that it is not always easy to separate executive and legislative
The Government must, however, ensure that answers to these
questions are provided during the course of the IGC.
249. Overall, it will not be easy to persuade
the individual citizen that this Title of the draft Treaty brings
them any new or substantially improved rights, or provides any
detail on how their participation in the democratic life of the
Union can be enhanced. The Government will need to explain more
clearly why this is so.
250. The right of access to documents is widened
(to include Union bodies and agencies) but still do not go far
enough (the applicant must still show that he or she is a Union
citizen or is resident in a Member States). The opportunity to
extend that right to all persons in the Union has been missed.
The Government has said that the right may exist in subordinate
access regulations but we continue to believe that it should be
in the Treaty. As a contribution to transparency, we therefore
urge the Government to revisit during the IGC the right of access