Summary: As the EU's Court of Auditors limbers up to issue an extremely scathing report about the legal basis for EU institutions' information policy, the Member States are reported to being making advances on the political front. During the December 6/7 General Affairs Council, they gave their backing to a set of Conclusions aimed at enhancing the role the Council Secretariat plays in the EU's public information and transparency policy. Consultations between the Member States in this area are said to be lacking and some countries are apparently, concerned about the European Commission's "dirigiste" tendencies when it comes to information.

The Council Conclusions chime with the findings of the second European seminar on EU information policy. This took place on November 20 and was attended by information managers in EU institutions and Member States' governments. The General Affairs Council's approval of the Conclusions is designed to act as a commitment to play a more active part in EU information policy, which has hitherto been conducted by the European Commission and, to a lesser extent, the European Parliament. It is also designed to allow more public scrutiny of Ministerial activities. The Conclusions stress "the need to bring Europe closer to its citizens" and achieve this aim by launching information campaigns on European themes, relying to a great extent on the electronic resources the Council's General Secretariat provides for journalists and the general public. The Council welcomes the decision that January 1, 1999 should be the date for creating a public register of Council documents accessible on the Internet (adress: The register will also feature Council meetings. While fully aware of the Member States' responsibility for promoting EU-related information, the Commission is being given the role...

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