Front page.

NEWS | Wednesday, 04 February 2009

MEPs vote for transparency

MaltaToday’s complaint to the European Ombudsman, to get the European Parliament to grant access to the newspaper to MEP’s salaries and bonuses, is listed as the basis of a resolution on public access to the European Institutions.
The resolution states that the EU institutions should now take further steps towards greater transparency, openness and democracy by moving towards an EU Freedom of Information Act.
The resolution cites the recommendation, in the case brought by MaltaToday, as the basis to call for MEPs’ allowance and spending to be made more easily accessible on its website, “in conformity with the position taken by the European Ombudsman.”
The resolution, authored by Liberal MEP Marco Cappato, calls for the European Parliament to ensure more and easily accessible information is made available on its website, making committee meetings and Bureau meetings public, as well as MEPs’ allowances and spending.
MEPs adopted 355 votes to 195 with 18 abstentions, the resolution on public access to European Parliament, Council and Commission documents. Malta’s five MEPs voted in favour of the resolution.
In MaltaToday’s complaint, the Ombudsman had found the European Parliament’s refusal to grant the newspaper access to the allowances and expenses claimed by Malta’s five MEPs to be “maladministration”.
Even the European Data Protection Supervisor advised that, whilst MEPs are entitled to protection of their privacy, the basic consideration in a transparent and democratic society must be that the public has a right to be informed about their behaviour, especially in relation to the expenditure of public funds. The EDPS considered it obvious that the data must be disclosed.
Ombudsman P. Nikiforos Diamandouros had said the case was important “because it highlights the need to carefully balance the right to privacy with the public interest in openness when deciding whether the public has a right to access information of this kind. MEPs have to be aware of the public interest in their use of public funds.”
While the EP has still not granted MaltaToday access to this information, this newspaper recently made a renewed request for the information concerning: MEPs’ daily allowances, the general expenses claimed for their offices and assistants’ salaries, and the ‘distance’ allowances claimed for their regular travel.
The Ombudsman maintained his findings of maladministration and admonished the EP with a “critical remark”, for failing to comply with the law on transparency as regards the allowances received by MEPs.
The Cappato resolution emphasises that the recent Court of Justice of the European Communities (ECJ) Judgment in the Turco case further strengthens in the EU the principle by which democratic institutions have a duty to ensure publicity of their activities, documents and decisions.
The resolution also calls on the Council to review its rules to ensure publicity of all discussions, documents and information, including the identity of the Member States” delegations in the Council as well as in its working groups and expert groups, and to draw up a transcript of its public meetings.
The MEPs called on the EU institutions to create a single EU register/portal of information and documents and work towards an ambitious European Freedom of Information Act.
MEPs also called for the launch of a European Year of Transparency and for a European transparency campaign to be promoted in 2009 on the occasion of the European elections.

MEP pushes for transparency
In the aftermath of the Ombudsman’s recommendation, Nationalist MEP Simon Busuttil congratulated MaltaToday for its “contribution towards greater transparency in the rules of a European Union institution” and declared he would present transparency proposals for PN MEPs in dealing with public funds placed at their disposal by the European Parliament.
“This proposal shall take into account the decision of the Ombudsman and shall seek a level of transparency for PN MEPs that goes beyond current requirements under the established rules of the European Parliament,” Busuttil had said.
Busuttil had told MaltaToday that he will be submitting his proposal to the Nationalist Party for its consideration in time for the 2009 elections.



Any comments?
If you wish your comments to be published in our Letters pages please click button below.
Please write a contact number and a postal address where you may be contacted.



Download front page in pdf file format


All the interviews from Reporter on MaltaToday's YouTube channel.


It takes two to tango

Saviour Balzan

So there you are. The news is finally out

Harry Vassallo

Barack vs Benedict

Anna Mallia

No national security

A taste of Ebba’s sketches
Currently NUVO art & dine is exhibiting the first commemorative exhibition of Ebba von Fersen Balzan organised by her husband Saviour Balzan and Nuvo.

An honorary Maltese, a visionary artist
Artists, art critics and friends unanimously gather to remember the impact and value of Ebba von Fersen Balzan’s work and her strong connection with the Maltese islands


The Julian Manduca Award


Copyright © MediaToday Co. Ltd, Vjal ir-Rihan, San Gwann SGN 9016, Malta, Europe
Managing editor Saviour Balzan | Tel. ++356 21382741 | Fax: ++356 21385075 | Email