EU: Pension negotiations not so secret after all
An EU-report about pension system reforms and the financial crises is not a secret in Brussels any longer. The EU-centre has now taken the same position as the Swedish government: let the people read.
It pays to appeal, or don’t take no for a final answer.
Such is the lesson learned by this web site in the case of a document discussing one of many thorny issues about economic governance in the EU.
The document which is a brief report two and an half pages long was officially referred to in the conclusion from a EU-summit in December last year.
This was one of several papers that laid a base to discussions between heads of states and governments.
Although officially referred to the report itself was to be kept secret according to the General Secretariat (civil servants) of the Council in Brussels.
Access to the report was rejected on the ground that a disclosure ”could impede the proper conduct of the negotiations and compromise the conclusion of an agreement on this subject.”
The Swedish government took a more relaxed or liberal view and handed out the report on request.
Following an appeal – in the EU-jargon known as a confirmatory application – the Council finally landed on the same position. The Council took the formal decision February 21; in this case the Council consisted of Ministers for European affaires.
The report (document number 17823/10) is now in the public domain, accessible via the search function at the Council’s web site, (also just to the right of this article).
And what were the sensitive or juicy parts?
That’s not so easy to tell.
The core of the report is a dilemma faced by EU-countries wanting to privatise their pension systems. This is in line with political recommendations, but puts member state in an awkward position: When states transfer pension assets to the private sector the deficit and debt of the government grows. This weakens the possibility to follow the euro-rules, known as the Stability and Growth Pact.
Hence the discussion about how to bend the rules in order to promote privatised pension systems. The report shows a division between member states on the matter but does not tell who is in favor of what.
In its latest annual report on access to Council documents the General Secretariat points out that 8 443 documents were examined for access in 2009, 6 452 of which were made available in full, or in parts in the initial stage.
33 appeals (”confirmatory applications”) for 351 documents led to a disclosure of an additional 88 documents.
All in all that lead to an ”access rate” of 63,9 percent, or 77,5 percent if partial access is included.
This figure has been more or less the same for the last five years as the amount of documents in the register has grown from close to 700 000 to more than one million. It doesn’t show how many of these are original documents and how many are just different languages versions.
More statistics are to be found in the Annual report – see under Documents.
- 18/02/2011 EU: Secret report released in member state