Secrecy, National Security and the Vindication of Constitutional Law
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Secrecy, National Security and the Vindication of Constitutional Law

Edited by David Cole, Federico Fabbrini and Arianna Vedaschi

Virtually every nation has had to confront tensions between the rule-of-law demands for transparency and accountability and the need for confidentiality with respect to terrorism and national security. This book provides a global and comparative overview of the implications of governmental secrecy in a variety of contexts. Expert contributors from around the world discuss the dilemmas posed by the necessity for – and evils of – secrecy, and assess constitutional mechanisms for checking the abuse of secrecy by national and international institutions in the field of counter-terrorism.
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Chapter 18: Secrecy regulation by the European Union inside out

Deirdre Curtin

Extract

The normative concept of transparency tends to promise the sun, the moon and the stars. The aim of opening up government is to create a democratic and accountable state as well as an efficient one. In the European Union (EU) it is no different – indeed, if anything the expectations are higher. Transparency – most frequently used as a short hand for access to documents, although this is arguably too limited a view as to its scope – has for the past twenty years (since the run up to the ratification of the Maastricht Treaty) been presented as a type of holistic medicine designed to remedy many of the ailments the EU is perceived to have. A central ailment is its limited legitimacy and transparency have been propagated as a means to boost the legitimacy of the EU. The aim of achieving more transparency in the functioning of the various EU institutions is lauded by almost everyone: the European institutions, the politicians and bureaucrats, the members of parliament, the judges and civil society. All these actors proclaim and expect beneficial effect from the implementation of transparency in the EU. Yet it seems we may have to learn to live, rather counter-intuitively, with the opposite: less and not more transparency and access to documents. Since 2008 the effort to revise the Access Regulation (from 2001) has been seriously held up because of inter-institutional disagreement as to procedure and content as well as among the Member States themselves. The Danish Presidency, attempting to break a deadlock of several years, circulated in 2012

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