To counter the charge that it is an elite-driven political project, the European Union increasingly uses online systems to render its working practices visible to its citizens. This article analyses how the actors involved in European Union policy-making understand the benefits derived from providing information through e-transparency, and examines whether they consider that the e-transparency systems deliver these benefits. Drawing on data from 63 semi-structured interviews with officials, Members of the European Parliament and Brussels-based transparency campaigners, the article shows a wide variation in participants’ views concerning the rationale for e-transparency. It shows that e-transparency is variously seen as the means to address declining citizen trust in the Brussels institutions; as a mechanism through which citizens can participate in European Union processes and as a means of holding its institutions to account. The article argues that these various e-transparency attributes are contradictory, and it advances a framework for information providers to assess how the e-transparency tools can best meet the differing requirements of transparency users.
- citizen participation