The European Transparency Initiative was launched by the Commission on 9 November 2005 with the aim of strengthening the legitimacy of the policy- and decision-making processes of the European institutions.
As part of this initiative the Commission published a Green Paper on 3 May 2006 intended to stimulate a public debate with all the parties involved on means of improving transparency in terms of the need to establish a more structured framework for the activities of interest groups, feedback on minimum standards for Commission consultation of civil society, and disclosure of information about the beneficiaries of Community funds.
The publication of the Green Paper coincided with the start of a period of public consultation running until 31 August 2006. The results of the consultation fed into the Commission's consideration of what specific measures should be taken to improve EU transparency .
It was in this context that the European Economic and Social Committee, at the request of and in close cooperation with the European Commission, organised a hearing of the parties concerned by certain questions addressed in the Green Paper: civil society organisations, consultancies, business sector lobby groups, law firms and think tanks.
The debates focussed on two key questions related to enhancing transparency in the activities of civil society organisations and other interest groups: creating a system for registering European civil society organisations and other interest groups, and drawing up a joint code of conduct.
The results of this hearing also fed into Commission discussions on the follow-up to the Green Paper. In addition, they provided an important contribution to the opinion which the EESC drew up on the subject.