- Reasons of Control and Trust: Grounding the Public Need for Transparency in the European Union
- Utrecht Law Review
- Volume | Issue number
- 11 | 2
- Pages (from-to)
- Document type
- Faculty of Law (FdR)
- Amsterdam Center for European Law and Governance (ACELG)
Public access to documents is one the European Union’s oldest and strongest policy efforts to connect with its citizens. Yet, the revision of Regulation 1049/2001 has been stuck in the pipeline for more than seven years, becoming itself an example of the allegation that the EU is too slow and complex. The stalemate in the reform is also due to the debate evolving around similar arguments and disagreements on specific provisions losing sight of the overall goal of public access.
We pick up on the undercurrent in the debate: the reasons for the necessity of transparency and their varied relevance for the concrete legal revision. We also put forward a reason which is often invoked but is seldom scientifically developed for transparency: public trust.
This paper focuses on ‘control’ and ‘trust’ as two primary reasons for transparency and maps their conceptual background and implications. We treat these two approaches in a stylized and typified way, so as to better comprehend the core of the matter. We point to the differences and practical overlaps of the public access to documents regime from these perspectives. By doing so, the paper attempts to introduce more innovative thinking about the modalities of access to documents and their linkage with deeper conceptual understandings of the relation between citizens and public institutions. With this theoretical contribution we hope to provide new ground for debating proposals for reform.
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