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Principles of Good Governance: European Perspectives

July 6, 2011

Five principles underpin good governance and the changes proposed in this White Paper: openness, participation, accountability, effectiveness and coherence. Each principle is important for establishing more democratic governance. They underpin democracy and the rule of law in the Member States, but they apply to all levels of government – global, European, national, regional and local. They are particularly important for the Union in order to respond to the challenges highlighted in the preceding chapter.
· Openness. The Institutions should work in a more open manner. Together with the Member States, they should actively communicate about what the EU does and the decisions it takes. They should use language that is accessible and understandable for the general public. This is of particular importance in order to improve the confidence in complex institutions.
· Participation. The quality, relevance and effectiveness of EU policies depend on ensuring wide participation throughout the policy chain – from conception to implementation. Improved participation is likely create more confidence in the end result and in the Institutions which deliver policies. Participation crucially
depends on central governments following an inclusive approach when developing and implementing EU policies.
· Accountability. Roles in the legislative and executive processes need to be clearer. Each of the EU Institutions must explain and take responsibility for what it does in Europe. But there is also a need for greater clarity and responsibility from Member States and all those involved in developing and implementing EU policy at whatever level.
· Effectiveness. Policies must be effective and timely, delivering what is needed on the basis of clear objectives, an evaluation of future impact and, where available, of past experience. Effectiveness also depends on implementing EU policies in a proportionate manner and on taking decisions at the most appropriate level.
· Coherence. Policies and action must be coherent and easily understood. The need for coherence in the Union is increasing: the range of tasks has grown; enlargement will increase diversity; challenges such as climate and demographic change cross the boundaries of the sectoral policies on which the Union has been built; regional and local authorities are increasingly involved in EU policies. Coherence requires political leadership and a strong responsibility on the part of the Institutions to ensure a consistent approach within a complex system.
Each principle is important by itself. But they cannot be achieved through separate actions. Policies can no longer be effective unless they are prepared, implemented and enforced in a more inclusive way.
The application of these five principles reinforces those of
· proportionality and subsidiarity. From the conception of policy to its and the selection of the instruments used must be in proportion to the objectives pursued. This means that before launching an initiative, it is essential to check systematically (a) if public action is really necessary, (b) if the European level is the most appropriate one, and (c) if the measures chosen are proportionate to those objectives.
The Union is changing as well. Its agenda extends to foreign policy and defence, migration and the fight against crime. It is expanding to include new members. It will no longer be judged solely by its ability to remove barriers to trade or to complete an internal market; its legitimacy today depends on involvement and participation. This
means that the linear model of dispensing policies from above must be replaced by a virtuous circle, based on feedback, networks and involvement from policy creation to implementation at all levels.
implementation, the choice of the level at which action is taken (from EU to local)


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