EU Institutions

Hush! Do not say anything. The press is listening

(credit: Joseph Ducreux - University of Kansas)
(credit: Joseph Ducreux – University of Kansas)

(BRUSSELS2) Too many documents marked “limit” are leaking, warns the Secretary General of the Council of the European Union, in a note that he has just sent to member states. Entitled “Disclosure of confidential documents“, Uwe Corsepius is alarmed by certain slippages and reminds member states of their obligations. A note which does not bear the name “Limite” but has a little taste of the old regime…

The press is aware: abnormal!

« Recently, several Council documents marked “LIMITED” have been communicated to and distributed by the press he recalls. A totally abnormal provision according to the secretary general. " It should be recalled that any unauthorized disclosure of such documents is contrary to the obligations imposed on the institutions of the Union and its Member States by the Treaties, (…) and undermines the ability of the Council and its Member States to carry out their missions in a climate of frankness and mutual trust. »

Parliaments are getting started

Not only do diplomats leak the documents. But he « moreover, on several occasions such documents have been made public by national parliaments ". And there we are at the top! " Member States have access to these documents in their capacity as members of the Council. It is up to each Member State to determine to whom, within its political and constitutional structures, it is necessary to provide access to an internal Council document to enable its representatives to exercise their functions as members of the Council. he writes.

Transparency has limits

And to threaten: The Council and its members are required to respect the legal requirements of the Treaties and secondary law with regard to professional secrecy, the protection of personal data and the protection of documents, classified and otherwise, the disclosure of which is not permitted. authorized. These rules aim to protect the interests of the Member States, the Union and its citizens, and in particular to enable the Council to carry out the tasks conferred on it by the Treaties. »

Comments : no example is cited. But everyone has, in mind, the draft transatlantic treaty, carefully kept in the fridge, just like the draft conclusions of the Summit which circulate under the covers at each meeting of the European Council. And the examples are multiplying. On the eve of the elections, we sense the desire among certain officials to tighten the screws on “unwanted” information. Officials recently complained that there were too many leaks from meetings of the COPS, the EU political and security committee. However, ordering executives to better monitor their parliamentarians and their press leaves an aftertaste of authoritarianism, which could produce the opposite effect to that sought. This is especially true since, to my knowledge, there is no framework for communication to national parliaments. At a time of tweets in all directions, and successive revelations about the NSA, this note actually has a refreshing taste... of the old regime.

Nicolas Gros Verheyde

Chief editor of the B2 site. Graduated in European law from the University of Paris I Pantheon Sorbonne and listener to the 65th session of the IHEDN (Institut des Hautes Etudes de la Défense Nationale. Journalist since 1989, founded B2 - Bruxelles2 in 2008. EU/NATO correspondent in Brussels for Sud-Ouest (previously West-France and France-Soir).