The European Union's secretive decision-making process hampers public accountability and alienates voters, European Ombudsman Emily O'Reilly warned Tuesday.
The EU holds elections in 2019 and officials are looking for ways to counter the widespread notion that decisions in Brussels are taken by nameless bureaucrats without democratic accountability.
To do so, the EU should publish more details of what goes on behind closed doors, when ministers from the bloc's 28 member states thrash out policy proposals and reach legislative compromises, according to the ombudsman.
"EU citizens have a right to participate in the making of laws which affect them, but to do so, they need more openness from their governments in Brussels," O'Reilly said.
"This 'behind-closed-doors' approach risks alienating citizens and feeding negative sentiment," she added, noting that this would only exacerbate the culture of blaming Brussels for unpopular decisions which in fact were taken jointly by member states.
She accuses the EU of "maladministration" for failing to make legislative documents accessible, failing to systematically record the national positions of member states in legislative debates and for generally labeling documents as classified when this is often not necessary.
The EU Council - the organization under which ministers hold regular meetings - has three months to respond to the ombudsman's report and accompanying recommendations.