A benchmark in transparency

December 19, 2008

efsa1

The European Food Safety Authority, an independent agency funded by the EU,  held its Management Board meeting yesterday, and allowed anyone to follow it via a live stream available from its homepage.

Sure, there are plenty of  “so whats?” Showing its meetings might just be a ploy to highlight its independence from the EU, and who know what takes place at other meetings. And food safety is probably not quite as contentious as other issues being discussed at a European level (CAP, finance, budgets, enlargement, security and so on). In any case, I was impressed that they made the effort – it’s not as if anyone was twisting their arm (I assume) – and hope it’s the start of a trend.

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2 Responses to “A benchmark in transparency”

  1. Phil Weiss Says:

    Interesting idea, but I couldn’t find it on the site (I wonder if anyone else could). Could you show the hyperlink to the meeting? I’m a little sceptical about the idea that people want to watch a live stream of a meeting. I think it makes sense to publish the minutes, and even to record the session – but you need to wonder who will want to site through it in front of a computer screen (it might be hard enough on those attending the meeting). I think real transparency happens through conversation through blogs, videos and open two conversations by the associations and the public. But that’s just my opinion.

  2. Steffen Says:

    Thanks Phil. We’re talking about different things though, I think. I agree with what you say, but you’re talking about engagement rather than transparency per se, which would be the next step, sure.

    As a gesture in transparency, EFSA live streaming its board meeting is awesome though, and frankly it could not matter one iota if anyone actually watches it.

    Unfortunately, the nature of Europe is such that anything that falls under the EU umbrella (as an EU-funded body, EFSA does so) has to live up to exceptionally high standards (e.g. of transparency) which hardly anyone would dream of asking of equivalent national bodies. The legacy of a Eurosceptic media and politicians scapegoating the EU, as well as its own failings to some extent.

    So the live stream is “symbolic” if you will: it shows that they respect and understand the notion of transparency. That in itself is important.

    In any case, if they have not followed up by uploading material from the meeting, as Phil points out, it does sort of defeat the purpose..!


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