Groups Urge EU Parliament to Amend EC Access Proposal

19 January 2011

The European Union Parliament should amend the European Commission’s proposed amendments to Regulation (EC) 1049/2001 regarding access to documents held by EU institutions, according to a letter signed by more than 100 civil society groups, circulated by Access Info Europe.

“The proposal would restrict access most notably by creating a narrower definition of what constitutes a document for the purpose of the regulation,” according to the letter. It also protests “adding new exceptions to the right of access to documents, in particular in relation to documents drawn up within dispute settlement proceedings initiated by the Commission against Member States.” Also objectionable, the letter says, is “granting more discretion to Member States to refuse access to documents they transmit to the EU institutions.”

Parliament is scheduled to begin its debate on the matter Jan. 24.

The letter urges members of the European Parliament to:

Support measures to align the regulation with the Lisbon Treaty to extend the scope of the regulation to all EU bodies, offices and agencies in addition to the institutions.

Maintain the current definition of a document to cover all documents and not only ones that have been formally transmitted to some recipients or registered. The definition should also include all information recorded in all formats, including databases.  

Bring the regulation in line with the relevant pro-transparency decisions of the Court of Justice of the EU which has ruled that legal advice from legal services of EU institutions in legislative proceedings should be publicly accessible and that Member States do not have an unconditional right of veto regarding disclosure of documents they have transmitted to EU institutions.

Maintain the deadline of 15 days for EU institutions to reply to confirmatory applications and reject the Commission’s proposal to extend this to 30 days.

More information on the EU proposal is summarized on the Access Info website in a more digestible format.   

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