With the entry into force of the Lisbon Treaty, the Council of the European Union “is obliged to meet in public when it deliberates and votes on European legislation”.
Good, it makes everyone’s jobs easier, except perhaps for Ministers and diplomats. But will it work? Doubtful.
As one journalist informed The Lobby, the breakfast meeting of one of this week’s Council meetings lasted until two in the afternoon!
Apparently, diplomats were stuck outside the negotiating room drinking coffee for hours, unable to follow the breakfast meeting via their usual listening room (adjacent to the negotiation room), as they no longer have this option under the new Treaty.
This was echoed by a Council official The Lobby spoke to earlier in the week, who stated when asked how negotiations during a certain Council were going, “I don’t even have access”.
This begs the question of whether Lisbon has taken us from closed sessions to eternal breakfasts and never-ending lunches – effectively turning these into closed sessions, out of sight of the web streaming cameras.
In the quest for more transparent decision-making, have we ended up with an even more opaque Council?