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EU watchdog urges more transparency to boost trust in post-Brexit EU
[BRUSSELS] The European Ombudsman called on Thursday for more transparency in negotiations over law proposals in Brussels as a way of increasing trust in the European Union as it reels from Britain's shock vote to leave the bloc.
A perception among ordinary EU citizens that Brussels is undemocratic and out of touch with their concerns has fanned euroscepticism and was one of the factors behind British voters'decision in a June 23 referendum to back 'Brexit'.
Ombusdman Emily O'Reilly said more documents should be published during three-way negotiations between the three key institutions - the European Parliament, the executive European Commission and the European Council, which represents national governments, to hammer out a common position on legislation.
The negotiations are known in EU jargon as 'trilogues'.
"It is difficult to find out when trilogues are taking place, what is being discussed and by whom without a great deal of time and effort," Ms O'Reilly said.
"The conclusion of my inquiry comes at a period of marked uncertainty for the EU. This uncertainty requires us all to reflect on how we can better engage with citizens throughout the Union," she added.
The Ombudsman investigates complaints about maladministration in EU institutions and can inspect documents, call officials to testify and open own-initiative inquiries.
Ms O'Reilly said the EU institutions must inform her by Dec 15 of the steps they have taken to improve transparency in the 'trilogues'.
The watchdog's appeal comes after both Ms O'Reilly and the French finance minister rebuked former European Commission president Jose Manuel Barroso for accepting a senior job at Goldman Sachs.
The issue of "revolving doors" in Brussels, where former politicians take on high-profile jobs in business after leaving office despite respecting a "cooling-off" period, has eroded the integrity of and trust in the EU, critics say.