European Parliament Holds Hearing on Transparency

21 April 2011

Pro-transparency members of the European Parliament last week called for an improved European Union disclosure policy, continuing to fuel a now long-running schism with the European Commission and Council.

Action by a parliamentary committee on its proposals to change the European disclosure standard, Regulation 1049/2001, is not likely to occur until early summer, after a scheduled May consideration of the annual report on implementation of the current policy.  Where the dispute will head after that is open to speculation. 

At a hearing April 13 (see the video), several parliamentarians made comments critical of the positions of the Commission and Council, according to a press release. Finnish MEP Anneli Jäätteenmäki as quoted as saying, “The proposal presented by the European Commission alienates the citizens from the EU.”   The Civil Liberties Committee also heard testimony from disclosure policy experts and interest groups.

The committee has an agenda of working documents before it. StateWatch has written a summary of the Commission’s March proposals. The political complexities of the situation are analyzed in a Wobbing EU report by Staffan Dahllöf.

In a recent ruling, the General Court of the EU found that the Council was not justified in refusing to disclose the identities of countries taking positions on reform of the EU’s access to information rules. (See previous FreedomInfo.org report.)

Among those testifying at the hearing was Helen Darbishire, executive director of Access Info Europe, the nongovernmental organization based  in Madrid which brought the case. She reported on possible future developments: 

Unfortunately however, the progress in jurisprudence is not welcome in all quarters. In what has become a relatively typical knee-jerk reaction to losing a case in favour of greater transparency, word has it that the Council is holding meetings this week to discuss the “Access Info case” and to consider an appeal and other measures such as pressing the Commission to propose yet another reform to the exceptions.








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