ZAGREB, February 13, 2020 – The nongovernmental organisation GONG on Thursday called on the government to use Croatia’s EU presidency to enhance the transparency of working procedures for state and European affairs and to bring them closer to citizens.
“Europe cannot be close to citizens if those procedures are very non-transparent, if there is a policy of confidentiality in adopting EU laws. We believe that we have the right to know which decisions regarding European affairs are made on our behalf,” GONG executive director Oriana Ivković Novokmet told a news conference.
GONG prepared recommendations for the government and ministers to enhance the transparency of European affairs and its activists were handing out leaflets with those recommendations before today’s government session.
One of the recommendations concerns the participation of citizens and the public in shaping national positions. GONG believes that situations such as the one regarding roaming charges, when two Croatian governments acted against citizens’ interests and did not support demands for lower roaming charges, must not happen again.
Ivković Novokmet said that the Permanent Representation of Croatia to the EU had supported GONG’s request and started publishing a list of its meetings with lobbying groups, based on the model of the Finnish EU presidency.
GONG also believes that the Croatian prime minister and his ministers should do the same.
The NGO also considers sponsorships as disputable.
“The government has shown best what the risk for one’s reputation can be because at the moment when the EC defined the new Green Deal it accepted the sponsorship of an oil company,” she said.
GONG has also demanded that all documents of the Council of the EU and informal trialogues between the Council, the Commission and the Parliament be published as well.
Asked how realistic it was to really expect that to happen, considering the way European and Croatian bureaucracies work, she said that certain progress was possible regarding transparency.
“There are European Parliament resolutions that call for opening more to citizens and for enhancing citizens’ participation because those things encourage euroscepticism… We can see that the Permanent Representation has made a small step forward – even though they do not publish the topics of the meetings – and we expect the same of the prime minister and ministers,” Ivković Novokmet said.
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