Skip to content. | Skip to navigation

Personal tools
You are here: Home Breaking news Commission pledges new transparency for expert groups

Commission pledges new transparency for expert groups

— filed under: , ,

(BRUSSELS) - The European Commission has adopted new rules on how it selects the advisory expert groups which provide external expertise to help inform the policy-making process.

Responding to pressure from the European Ombudsman in particular, the rules area are aimed at increasing transparency, avoiding conflicts of interest and ensuring a balanced representation of interests.

The expert groups are seen as essential to the develiopment of Commission policies. But there is increasing pressure that this should be done this in as transparent a way as possible.

Under the new rules, Commission departments will have to select all expert group members through public calls for applications. The exceptions will be those representing Member States, third countries, and EU and international bodies.

The calls iell have to be published on the Register of Expert Groups and must clearly outline the selection criteria, including the required expertise and interest groups targeted.

The Commission says all possible efforts will be made to ensure balanced representation, taking into account areas of expertise and interest, gender and geographical origin, and the mandate of the expert group concerned. The enhanced transparency in the selection process is an important factor in achieving balanced composition.

The Commission says the revised rules further increase transparency of the groups' work by explicitly requiring Commission departments to make available relevant documents including agendas, complete and meaningful minutes and expert submissions. In case of adoption of an expert group position through a vote, minority opinions expressed by experts can also be made public if they so wish.

The Commission has been under pressure to prevent potential conflicts of interest in relation to individuals appointed in a personal capacity - who are expected to act independently and in the public interest.

Commission departments willl now have to carry out specific conflict of interest assessments for these experts, on the basis of a 'Standard Declaration of Interest' that they will submit. These Declarations will subsequently be published on the Register of Expert Groups for public scrutiny.

A revised Register of Expert Groups reflects the new transparency requirements and ensuring synergies with the Transparency Register. Experts who apply to represent specific interests or organisations will only be selected as expert group members if they are registered in the Transparency Register. This condition will be applied retroactively to all current expert group members by the end of 2016.

Around 800 expert groups currently advise the Commission across all policy areas. Expert group members can be appointed in an individual capacity or can represent Member States, third countries, EU and international bodies, business, trade unions, civil society, academia or other interests.

Expert groups are used in the preparation of new legislation or delegated and implementing acts, in the implementation of existing laws, or in developing strategic policy orientations more generally. These groups do not take any decisions - their role is purely advisory - but they may formulate opinions or recommendations and submit reports to the Commission. The Commission and its officials remain fully independent regarding the way they take into account the expertise and views gathered from these expert groups. The Commission's decisions are always taken in the general interest of the European Union.

Commission Decision

Register of Commission expert groups

Document Actions