On 6 December 2017, the Permanent Representatives Committee (Coreper) agreed on the Council’s position on the Commission proposal for a mandatory Transparency Register.
This means that the Council Presidency will now be able to begin negotiations with the Parliament and Commission on the Council’s participation in the Transparency Register.
The Council is supportive of the overall approach proposed by the Commission notably on the principle of conditionality - that certain interactions with EU decision-makers are only open to interest representatives that sign up to the Transparency Register.
Interest representatives would be required to register in order to be able to meet with the Secretary-General and Directors General of the General Secretariat of the Council and to attend thematic briefings, public events and access to the Council premises.
However, the Council considers that interaction between interest representatives and national officials, such as diplomats working in the Permanent Representations to the EU, remains the sole responsibility of the member state concerned, including when serving as Presidency of the Council.
The Council’s mandate encourages member states to require registration in the Transparency Register for certain interactions with the Permanent Representations at a senior level when serving as Council Presidency. This would not affect their right to address the issue through any other national measures.
The Council’s mandate also proposes the creation of two legal instruments: 1) a tripartite interinstitutional agreement and 2) individual ‘Decisions’ to be adopted by each of the institutions. The Decisions would set out the types of interactions which each institution would make conditional upon prior registration of interest representatives in the Transparency Register. Together the two instruments constitute a single political package.
The Council published a Draft Council Decision on the regulation of interactions between officials of theGeneral Secretariat of the Council and interest representatives, which accompanied the adoption of the mandate. It includes a separate Code of Conduct, similar to the existing one but with several changes.
In advance of the interinstitutional negotiations between the Council Presidency and representatives of the Parliament and the Commission, a political-level meeting will be organised shortly, to prepare ground for the forthcoming negotiations.
Inter-institutional negotiations between the Council, Commission and Parliament are expected to start during the first half of 2018 under the Bulgarian Presidency.
If negotiations are successful and an agreement is reached by the institutions, the text of the proposal will then be published in the Official Journal of the EU.
The further proposals for separate decisions governing conditionality for each institution will be included in this negotiation but will constitute separate instruments.