The term "transparency" is frequently used in the language of the institutions to mean openness in the working of the Community institutions. It is linked to a variety of demands for broader public access to information and EU documents and more easily readable instruments (simplification of the Treaties, consolidation and better drafting of legislation).
Complaints regarding a lack of transparency tend to reflect a feeling that the European institutions are remote and that decision-making procedures are difficult for the ordinary European citizen to understand.
Treaty of Amsterdam
The Treaty of Amsterdam was signed on 2 October 1997 and entered into force on 1 May 1999. It amended the Treaty of Maastricht in particular with a view to the Union's future enlargement. It introduced, inter alia, a flexibility clause enabling enhanced cooperation to be set up among certain Member States under certain conditions. It transferred some areas, notably free movement of persons, from the third pillar to the first pillar (the "Community pillar"). It also introduced a Community employment policy, laid down the principle of citizens' access to the institutions' documents, broadened the scope of the co-decision procedures and increased the number of cases where the Council decides by a qualified majority.
Pillars of the European Union
Treaty of Maastricht
The Treaty of Maastricht was signed on 7 February 1992 and entered into force on 1 November 1993. It brought together in a single framework - which it called "the European Union" - the Communities, the common foreign and security policy as well cooperation in the fields of justice and home affairs (JHA). It also put into place Economic and Monetary Union (EMU) with a single currency (the "euro"). It further enshrined the concept of European citizenship and provided for greater involvement of the European Parliament in law-making by setting up the co-decision procedure (Council + Parliament) for a series of areas.