- Overseeing secrets in the EU: a democratic perspective
- Journal of Common Market Studies
- Volume | Issue number
- 52 | 3
- Pages (from-to)
- Document type
- Faculty of Law (FdR)
- Amsterdam Center for European Law and Governance (ACELG)
Formulating policy and overseeing implementation require access to information. Yet in (national) security matters executive officials have considerable discretion to conceal from the public and from parliaments information they consider sensitive. If executive officials are given largely unchecked power to conceal from the public and from parliament(s) whatever information they consider sensitive, part of the essential machinery of democracy is disconnected. Secrecy becomes a danger when it undermines the very values invoked to protect it: democratic self-government and security. Technical European Union (EU) security classification rules receive little attention from outsiders and are adopted and amended in iterative processes as low-level internal rule-making. Oversight mechanisms in the EU, in particular by parliaments, can supply some countervailing pressure, but remain a recurrent challenge. Is more public discussion needed on when and for how long secrets can be kept and how oversight mechanisms are constructed in new EU horizontal legislation?
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