Transparency (humanities)

For other uses of the word "transparency", see transparency, a disambiguation page.

The sense of the word transparency used in the humanities began as a metaphorical extension of its meaning in the physical sciences and in particular in optics: a transparent object is one that can be seen through.

In sociology, politics, ethics, law, economics, business, management, etc., transparency is the opposite of privacy; an activity is transparent if all information about it is freely available. Thus when courts of law admit the public, when fluctuating prices in financial markets are published in newspapers, those processes are transparent; when military authorities classify their plans as secret, transparency is absent. This can be seen as either positive or negative; positive, because it can increase national security, negative, because it can lead to secrecy and even a military dictatorship.

Some organisations and networks, for example, Wikipedia, the GNU/Linux community and Indymedia, insist that not only the ordinary information of interest to the community is made freely available, but that all (or nearly all) meta-levels of organising and decision-making are themselves also published. This is known as radical transparency.

Transparency in the EU

The drafting of the EU Constitution allowed for an opportunity to make the Council of the European Union more transparent.

While the Constitution treaty orders that all official Council meetings discussing new EU laws, have to be public, this has already been decided at European Council of Seville, so in reality, the Constitution fails to seek for any improvement.

This means that the Constition Treaty which has been signed in Rome and is now in the ratification process will not bring more transparency to the hundreds of law-making committees which prepare decisions to the point of adoption. It fails to give citizens a real insight into how their laws are decided in these committee which adopt or prepare 85% of all EU-laws.

See also: Comitology

The previous European Ombudsman, Jacob Söderman, has proposed a transparency and administrative reform. The European Parliament has proposed that all meetings and documents be open unless a ⅔ majority decide otherwise.

This proposal has assembled support from 200 members and substitute members of the Convention, including all the members of the national parliaments, but it was still not inserted into the EU Constitution by the Praesidium.

See also

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