Nosemonkey's EUtopia

In search of a European identity

Mandelson and EU openness

Yes, I’ve gone quiet again of late. Sorry. Illness and work have conspired to make me feel like poo.

Still, an interesting tidbit from the whole “did Peter Mandelson get up to anything dodgy with Russian oligarchs?” thing that’s been knocking around for the last week or so, from the invaluable Unspeak:

So as to head off any suggestion of impropriety, the Telegraph has been asking the EU for the records of all Mandelson’s meetings with Deripaska while the former was trade commissioner. The EU’s response is not exactly helpful…

It all comes down to the definition of what is a “document” according to EU regulation 1049/2001. Exciting, eh? Nonetheless, it’s well worth reading the whole thing. This kind of obfuscation and obstructionism isn’t unique to the EU, of course – but by god, Brussels doesn’t do these things by half…

(This sort of thing, you’ll be unsurprised to learn, is the reason that the EU receives so little press coverage – working out precisely what its rules and regulations are is one of the most tedious things imaginable, and even if you do happen to have a journalist or blogger determined enough to manage to track it down before the news cycle has moved on, you’re then stuck with all kinds of petty squabbles over terminology. It’s fairly surprising that any EU news ever gets out, in fact…)

In any case, this all follows rather neatly from recent responses from GrahnLaw, Julien Frisch and Re: Europa to a Statewatch paper suggesting methods to achieve “greater openness, transparency and democracy in the EU” (WARNING – PDF). Worth a look – because I doubt there’s an EU-watcher out there who wouldn’t wish for more of all three.

My plea to the European Union thoughout my five and a half years of trying to blog about it remains the same as it ever was: Please, please stop being so boring and incomprehensible. Pretty please?


  1. You are actually making a good point here. I was thinking in a similar direction when reading the Statewatch pdf. If more information would be available it is not unlikely thar a more vibrant discussion about EU matters would be possible!

  2. You’re right, but the culture is more inward looking than ever in Brussels after the Irish no vote. So don’t hold your breath.

    I am rather annoyed that all of this has surfaced now – where were all the lazy journalists looking into this when Mandy was Trade Commissioner? And what are the other Commissioners actually up to?

  3. Nosemonkey,

    How can you say that the European Union is boring, when secrecy leads to speculation and heightened interest, plus conspiracy theories, and forbidden fruit is always more tempting than the stuff sold over the counter?


    Incomprehensible? A harder charge to refute, I think, if you think of citizens not engaged within the machinery 24 hours a day, but the paternalistic intergovernmental EU of today was never designed to be comprehensible to them. It only says it was.


    It seems like Mandelson was targeted now because he returned from “exile”, an example of fairly parochial thinking.

  4. But if it`s not so boring and incomprehensible people would know what its about, and what it does to them .
    Better for your side that it muddies the waters.

  5. Ah, but evidently “my side” hasn’t done a good enough job, or else you wouldn’t be able to see through our nefarious plans.

  6. Just me, or the rest of the population ?