Open Government and the EU: a model for action

There is no one solution to the European crisis, but we know that any solution has to include better democracy and greater openness. The EU, like every government, has to respond to citizens’ demands for greater control of the decisions that affect their lives.

Our new report, written with the Open Estonia Foundation, the Centre for Public Innovation in Romania, and the Open Society European Policy Institute, looks at the experience of open government work in three member states to see what lessons the EU can learn. The most important lesson is – don’t make commitments unless you intend to take action, and don’t take action unless you are ready to work with others.

We have found many good initiatives on transparency, accountability and democracy across the European institutions, but they rarely join up. We recommend a single narrative and action plan for work on open government, ideally drawn up by the Institutions  alongside a broad civil society network on the model of the international Open Government Partnership.

The conversation needs to run far beyond the Brussels ring road. To be truly open, the EU has to push participation, transparency and accountability through networks to local and national level at every member state.

Civil society has to be involved in that, in Brussels and beyond. We recommend that a civil society open government network should be set up by the summer of next year. It should focus on practical action and piloting in the three pillars of open government – transparency, accountability and participation.

In the medium term, the EU should consider joining the Open Government Partnership as a non-state partner, but it doesn’t need to wait to put in place principles of partnership and collaboration around open government innovation.

Opening up the EU, and meeting citizens’ demands, needs concerted action by institutions and civil society. By the next European Parliament elections, we can make a real difference to perceptions and to policies, that is felt at every level in Europe. Today, at the Open Government Partnership summit meets in Paris, we are calling for everyone with an interest to come forward and get involved.

For more information and to express interest in further involvement, please contact Michelle Brook (

Published by Anthony Zacharzewski

Anthony Zacharzewski was one of the founders of Demsoc in 2006. Before starting work for Demsoc in 2010, he was a Whitehall civil servant and a local government officer.

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