No progress in reforming EU expert groups says Alter-EU

(11 March 2013) A new report (see below) of Alter-EU, the European network that strives towards more transparency of EU decision-making and of which EPSU is a member, shows that the Commission has done very little to reform its system of expert groups.

The European Parliament has asked the Commission to reform its expert groups and ensure that their composition is more balanced. The European Parliament even imposed a budget constraint on the expert groups in November 2011. It wanted the reform along 4 conditions:
- balanced composition;
- ban lobbyists sitting in a personal capacity;
- common selection criteria and public calls for applications;
- full transparency.

Ahead of an Informal Dialogue meeting (13 March) between the Commission and the European Parliament the report exposes the lack of political will on the side of the European Commission to change the cozy relationship with business interests. This close relationship works against the general interests as it leads to a systematic (and systemic) bias towards private sector and market-based solutions. An example: the European Commission has established a very high level European Resource Efficiency Platform. Ministers, Commissioners, Members of the European Parliament as well as academics, environmental organisations are members. ETUC has one seat, large private sector companies like Veolia have 6 seats. Municipal organisations 1, consumers 1, and environmental organisations 2. Why are there no large municipal companies present which have a lot of practical experience with addressing resource efficiency issues ?

Alter-EU asks the MEPs to demand a clear agenda and timetable by which time all conditions outlined by the European Parliament will be met. This should be underwritten by a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between the Commission
and the Parliament outlining the new set of guidelines by which all expert groups should adhere to. The MoU should then be integrated into the horizontal rules on expert groups when these are revised, likely to be in 2015.

ALTER-EU commentary on progress in reforming Expert Groups in advance of the Informal Dialogue