Drafting for Transparency
Published on 21 June 2023
Webinar to the European Parliament
While transparency and accountability are viewed as characteristics of a “good” governance, often bodies fall short of these ideals due to a variety of reasons. As a result, it is necessary for the law to establish rules through which bodies which exercise executive powers over the public can be held to account. However, in creating these rules drafters must take care in creating laws requiring the disclosure of information – poor drafting can create “dark spots” that enable bodies to avoid scrutiny.
Presenting at a European Parliament training webinar organised by Environmental Justice Network Ireland, Dr Sean Whittaker discussed the need for precision in European efforts to promote transparency and accountability through the provision of environmental information. Drawing upon current environmental information regimes, Dr Whittaker noted that European instruments need to explicitly impose obligations to proactively disclose environmental information. These obligations to proactively disclose environmental information must also be precise, detailing what and how environmental information should be proactively disclosed.
The proactive disclosure of environmental information is essential to enabling the public to scrutinise the actions of bodies exercising executive powers over them. Proactively disclosed environmental information is the gateway for public scrutiny, acting to elicit public interest and enable further requests for environmental information to be disclosed. Ultimately, proactively disclosed environmental information is the gateway for public scrutiny, and precise legislative drafting is essential to ensuring that bodies are both transparent and accountable.