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EU should practise what it preaches

By Barbara Slee, International Fund for Animal Welfare, Brussels  -  07.02.2013 / 03:50 CET
The EU's transparency in an international forum.

You have recently carried a range of articles on transparency in the European Commission (“Stoiber allegations are unfounded”, 24-30 January), the European Parliament (“Parliament's cash payments send out wrong signal”, 24-30 January) and the lobbyists' register (“EU publishes transparency report”,, 27 November 2012).

For a different perspective and comparison, your readers might be interested to know about the EU's transparency in an international forum.

In 2010, the EU put forward a comprehensive proposal to reform the International Whaling Commission (IWC), the international body responsible for the conservation of whales and the management of whaling.

Improvements in transparency were a major part of that proposal, which was successfully adopted. The proposal included making sure that the positions of IWC members and communications to IWC commissioners would be placed on the IWC website.

At the 2012 IWC meeting, Denmark (representing Greenland) proposed increasing its whaling for aboriginal subsistence purposes. This was rejected by the IWC. Recently, the EU responded to a letter from Greenland about Greenland's desire to kill whales without the approval of the IWC. It kept its response private.

In contrast, Australia and the Latin American countries have – correctly – made their reactions available on the IWC website.

The manner of the EU response runs completely counter to its own proposal at the IWC for transparency. Also, the EU's own transparency initiative (from 2005) stresses the importance of a “high level of transparency” to ensure that the Union is “open to public scrutiny and accountable for its work”.

Given the danger that member states may be planning whaling without IWC approval, and the importance of an open debate, the EU response should now be put on the IWC website.

© 2014 European Voice. All rights reserved.

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