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On 10 March, Maarten Hillebrandt (ACELG) will publicly defend his PhD thesis entitled 'Living Transparency. The development of access to documents in the Council of the EU and its democratic implications'. Open to the public.

Detail Summary
Date 10 March 2017
Time 12:00

Today there is a broad consensus that the Council of the European Union needs transparency in order to function democratically. Twenty-five years after the introduction of a transparency policy, different sides however still disagree about the extent to which opacity has been overcome. Those praising ‘advancing transparency’ consider that Council transparency increased considerably and by now approximates democratic standards. A more critical account observes a ‘captured transparency’, highlighting the many remaining obstacles that transparency in the Council has to overcome before it can be effective.

In his doctoral thesis, Maarten Hillebrandt provides a detailed and multi-disciplinary exploration of the question how the ‘living policy’ of transparency has fared in the Council. It compares the development of transparency in three of the Council’s policy formations: Environment, Economic and Financial Affairs, and Foreign Affairs. The analysis paints a picture of an increasingly fragmented reality of transparency in different policy areas, both with regard to the rules governing access and their interpretation and implementation. Moreover, the Council’s current access to documents policy is marked by several shortcomings that suggest a negligent attitude towards democratic issues. However, the study also shows that change, when brought about in a manner that is both realistic and has eye for its normative purposes, can allow transparency to fulfil its democratic promise.

Maarten Hillebrandt completed his PhD project at ACELG under the supervision of Prof. Deirdre Curtin and Prof. Joana Mendes. He is currently a postdoctoral researcher at the Faculty of Sociology, University of Bielefeld, Germany.


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