In a further post on the subject of EU transparency in theory and its absence in practice (see Expensives and Expensives-2) we offer more evidence of the EU breaking its own rules when it suits its leaders.
Once again the EUObserver reports that the EU has refused to provide access to information about its goings-on: https://euobserver.com/brexit/144724
They report that the French EU Commissioner, Pierre Moscovici, met Tony Blair and George Soros at the World Economic Forum in Davos, in January. When asked for access to documents relating to this meeting the EU Commission released a heavily redacted email with the subject “Davos readout”. The email, or parts of it, can be read here (the image gives just a sample):
Leading into six redacted lines is an indication of the subject, discussion of which is not for public consumption: “Soros and Blair: discussions with the two earliest backers of a ‘People’s Vote’”.
In small print beneath the redacted ‘information’ is: “Covered by article 4.3.1 (decision making process)”. This is a reference to the EU regulation covering public access to “European Parliament, Council and Commission documents”. (The full regulation can be accessed here: https://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/EN/TXT/?qid=1556107602520&uri=CELEX:32001R1049)
The rubric to the regulation has this: “The second subparagraph of Article 1 of the Treaty on European Union enshrines the concept of openness, stating that the Treaty marks a new stage in the process of creating an ever closer union among the peoples of Europe, in which decisions are taken as openly as possible and as closely as possible to the citizen.” We note that this is not ‘openly’ or ‘closely’ but only “as possible”, where the EU itself decides what is possible.
Why such a regulation? Because, “Openness enables citizens to participate more closely in the decision-making process and guarantees that the administration enjoys greater legitimacy and is more effective and more accountable to the citizen in a democratic system. Openness contributes to strengthening the principles of democracy and respect for fundamental rights as laid down in Article 6 of the EU Treaty…”.
We like this but don’t believe it; we guess that Tony Blair and other Remainers like it and believe it. This post, and many others, outline why we don’t believe what the EU wants us to believe.
When we get to point (9) of the rubric we find this, which opens the get-out clauses: “On account of their highly sensitive content, certain documents should be given special treatment.” Point (11) takes us to the heart of the matter: “In principle, all documents of the institutions should be accessible to the public. However, certain public and private interests should be protected by way of exceptions.”
The inclusion of “public … interests” gives a clue to the deceit that is being practised here. The public interest needs to be protected, but not by way of exceptions, which does the opposite. The EU has no concern, other than rhetorical, for the public and their interests (see the quotation from Monnet below). The purpose of this regulation is to protect the EU from intrusive interest by the public, and their press representatives, which risk harming the agenda.
The specific get-out clause, or “exceptions”, referred to above, is found in Article 4: “Access to a document… shall be refused if disclosure of the document would seriously undermine the institution’s decision-making process, unless there is an overriding public interest in disclosure.”
In reply to the EUObserver, giving reasons for rejecting their application to access relevant documents, the Commission said that there was a risk of violating privacy, and of damaging “the institution’s decision-making process”. “We have looked into the text carefully and did not assess that there would be an overriding public interest in disclosure of this parts [sic] of the document”. (https://www.asktheeu.org/en/request/6348/response/21517/attach/2/Reply%20partial%20M%20Buti%202019%200622.pdf)
In summary then, the principle of open access to information is applicable only if the Commission decides that the information is in the “overriding public interest” and not harmful to its own interest. There exists no independent authority that can decide what may damage the EU’s decision-making processes or what may be considered to be in the overriding public interest; all such decisions are made by the Commission itself, the de facto supranational government of ‘Europe’.
In a covering letter to the EUObserver, on behalf of the Secretary-General of the Commission, we have this: “Some parts of the document have been blanked out as their disclosure is prevented by exceptions to the right of access laid down in Article 4 of this Regulation.” We note the deception highlighted by “prevented”, by which they would have us believe that the decision is out of the hands of the Commission.
We have commented on this casual overruling of Treaty provisions in several posts, which we list in Themes-4: Founded in Deception.
Clearly the EU believes that we are wrong to think that it would be in the overriding public interest, at least in Britain, to learn what an ex-Prime Minister, with a view directly contradicting party manifesto claims, discussed with the EU at Davos. We cannot see what harm such disclosure would cause to any decision-making process of the EU.
Then there is this, from an earlier reply to a request for access to EU documents:
“The exceptions laid down in … must be waived if there is an overriding public interest in disclosure. Such an interest must, firstly, be public and, secondly, outweigh the harm caused by disclosure.”
This is firmly in line with the recommendation of EU founding father, Jean Monnet , who said: “Europe’s nations should be guided towards the superstate without their people understanding what is happening. This can be accomplished by successive steps, each disguised as having an economic purpose, but which will eventually and irreversibly lead to federation.”
Since the names of the two people who participated in the Davos discussion with Moscovici have not been redacted, we can assume that revealing the contents of the discussion might cause harm to the deceitful process by which the EU progresses its ambition. Such self-assessed but unspecified ‘harm’ would, in the judgement of the EU Commission, override any public interest in the discussion.
After all, further down the Commission’s email, not redacted and so perhaps in the public interest, or at least not truly harmful, we have a comment on Brexit from Moscovici: “I personally hope that on March 29 we will be in a position where the UK could remain a Member State.” Of course this is the reported view of one Commissioner, not the official view of the Commission itself, which would surely take more care to avoid the risk that “their people” might understand “what is happening”. Nonetheless the EU is working, surreptitiously but so far successfully, towards this end, at some later date, exactly in line with Monnet’s recommendation.