Web Portal to Facilitate Information Requests to EU

28 September 2011

A web portal to facilitate public information requests to the European Union was unveiled Sept. 28 by the pro-transparency human rights group Access Info Europe.

AsktheEU.org “is designed to radically simplify the process by which the public puts requests to European Union bodies,” the group said in an announcement.

An email is sent from the website to the relevant EU body. All requests sent via AsktheEU.org and the responses are instantly made public.

Requesters will have the opportunity to “me too” a request so that more than one person receives the answer, easing the workload on EU officials.

Other features include allowing requesters to rate responses for quality and comprehensiveness, permitting other users to comment on answers.

“If requesters are dissatisfied, the site helps them file appeals (“confirmatory applications”) and gives guidance on how to complain to the European Ombudsman or to go to the European Court of Justice,” the group said.

“Launching AsktheEU.org portal, Access Info Europe raised the concern that 10 years after the EU’s access to documents rules were adopted in 2001 there are still only a very small number of requests each year: around 12,000 in a region of 500 million people, meaning that at most 0.0024% of Europeans are exercising this right.” The group also noted that around one third of the complaints made to the European Ombudsman concern problems accessing EU documents.

The sponsors said AsktheEU.org will generate statistics on response times, the exceptions applied, and the rate of administrative silence.

AsktheEU.org runs on the Alaveteli software which underpins the UK’s successful WhatDoTheyKnow.com built by the NGO mySociety; it is also inspired by Germany’s FragdenStaat.de, from the Open Knowledge Foundation, and similar sites in countries ranging from Kosova (InformataZyrtare.org) and Chile (AccesoInteligente.org). Access Info Europe and partners are currently preparing TuDerechoaSaber.es in Spain and a similar website in France.


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