The Council of the EU meets today to discuss the reform of the EU’s Comitology system for secondary legislation. The reform, aimed at increasing the accountability of national governments within the Appeal Committee stage of the Comitology process, is an attempt to fix a system that is widely seen as structurally problematic in its lack of transparency.
Unfortunately this reform to the procedure will likely not increase transparency where it is most needed in the Commission, in particular in DG SANTE. The Comitology committees in DG SANTE are notoriously opaque, and health lawmakers are renowned for failing to take into consideration scientific evidence presented by stakeholders. One of the most egregious examples of this was the passage of the track and trace system for tobacco. During the legislative process the Commission ignored the evidence on the system presented by stakeholders, with Commissioner Andriukaitis even going so far as to say that they had not received feedback from industry. As a result, the Commission passed a proposal which is completely unworkable, a fact that was pointed out on numerous occasions at the time but was completely ignored.
ESTA Secretary General Peter van der Mark said: “The Comitology system as it is structured today does not work. The Commission’s proposed reforms do not address the underlying problems in the system which lead to unscientific, tone-deaf laws such as the regulation on track and trace. Meaningful Comitology reform with a commitment to transparency and democratic accountability is desperately needed, in particular in DG SANTE. The Commission continually talks about increasing transparency and accountability – ironically this is something which is practiced far better in the private sector.”