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The 2011 academic year began with the inaugural First Annual Conference of ACELG on Open EU Decision Makingin October 2011. Intrigued by the post-Lisbon commitment to an ‘open EU’ as laid down in Articles 1 TEU and 15(1) TFEU, ACELG in this conference focused on how the principle of openness manifests itself within the EU. 70 attendees and participants from a diversity of backgrounds, disciplines and universities gathered in the University Library’s historic building to consider this theme from the point of view of the legislative, the executive and the judicial powers.

A wide range of discussants and participants from, in particular ACELG and various EU institutions and former practitioners from the institutions, participated in an especially rich debate on transparency in the EU, its practices and procedures and the standards of decision-making generally.

Session 1: Opening up the Legislative Power

After a welcome by the Director of ACELG, Prof. Deirdre Curtin, Anne Elizabeth Stie (ARENA) presented a paper in the first session entitled “Open EU decision-making or technocracy in disguise? Democratic implications of early agreements in co-decision-making”. This considered the phenomenon of early agreements in co-decision and whether early agreements are increasingly undemocratic in legislative decision-making. This was followed by a paper from Christine Neuhold (Maastricht) who discussed the question of “The Europeanisation of National Parliaments post-Lisbon”and reflected on whether National Parliaments have been genuinely Europeanised as a result of the powers accorded to National Parliaments in the Treaty of Lisbon. The papers were then discussed in a lively debate led by discussants Emilio de Capitani (European Parliament), Thomas Beukers (Utrecht) and Kathalijne Buitenweg (former MEP, ACELG), who provided some particularly interesting insights into the questions raised by the presentations.

Session 2: Opening up the Executive Power

In this second session Joana Mendes (UvA) presented a paper entitled “Access to administrative documents: losing sight of public interest”, in which she considered the manner in which the Court of Justice can hold institutions to account as well as the sometimes conflicted nature of the Commission as an actor. The second paper in the session was delivered by Guri Rosén (ARENA). In her presentation on “A secret worth keeping? The European Parliament and access to documents in the area of foreign and security policy”she outlined the operation of the principles of secrecy and democracy in the Common Security and Defence Policy, investigating the development of the European Parliament’s access to sensitive documents and the issue of the democratic character of EU foreign policy. The papers were then discussed by Paolo Ponzano (former Task Force Director Future of the European Union and Institutional Questions and EUI), Mark Bovens (Utrecht) and Madalina Busuioc (ACELG).

Session 3: Opening up the Judicial Power

In the third session Bruno de Witte (Maastricht/ EUI) delivered a paper considering the question “Can the Court of Justice be responsive to EU Citizens?”. He outlined the limits of responsiveness on the part of the Court and the challenges of its practices. The second paper in the session was delivered by Ross Carrick (Oxford) on “Access to Democratic Participation in the Court of Justice of the European Union”, who gave a detailed paper focussing on the processes involved for actors in judicial review in EU law. Christiaan Timmermans (formerly Judge of the Court of Justice), Thomas Vandamme (ACELG) and Christina Eckes (ACELG) engaged in a lively debate on the issues raised in the two papers, with Judge Timmermans providing interesting practical insights into the questions.

Second ACELG Annual Conference

ACELG is preparing the Second ACELG Annual Conference. It is planned for November 2011 and will focus on EU economic governance.