European Ombudsman Emily O’Reilly has criticised the Council of the European Union of undermining citizens’ rights to hold their elected representatives to account. Specifically, she pointed to the Council’s failure to systematically record the identity of the member states taking positions during discussions on draft legislation.

Another point raised is the widespread practice of disproportionately marking documents as not for circulation, or “LIMITE”.

“It’s almost impossible for citizens to follow the legislative discussions in the Council between national government representatives. This ‘behind-closed-doors’ approach risks alienating citizens and feeding negative sentiment,” said O’Reilly.

This is why she is calling on the Council to record EU member states’ positions in Council working parties. A review of the criteria for using the ‘LIMITE’ status was also recommended.

“National government representatives involved in legislative work are EU legislators and should be accountable as such. If citizens do not know what decisions their governments are taking, and have taken, while shaping EU laws, the ‘blame Brussels’ culture will continue. EU citizens have a right to participate in the making of laws which affect them, but to do so, they need more openness from their governments in Brussels.”