EU Parliament Committee Makes Small Changes in 1049

21 October 2011

A committee of the European Union Parliament has modified the scope of the access to documents Regulation 1049/2001 to slightly expand its scope.

In addition, there are some signs that the larger debate over access to EU documents is being rekindled.

 As amended by the Constitutional Affairs Committee opinion, the regulation will cover EU offices, bodies and agencies (for example, the European Central Bank when exercising administrative functions etc). This would bring the regulation in line with the Lisbon treaty but would not radically alter its content.

As stated in the committee document: “The Treaty also clearly enlarges the scope of the regulation. Previously, the Treaty demanded transparency only from the Parliament, Council and Commission, whereas now Article 15/TFEY states that “Any citizen…shall have a right of access to documents of the Union institutions, bodies, offices and agencies, whatever their medium.”

Under the proposals the regulation would be updated to “ensure” citizens have the “widest possible” access to documents from all EU institutions, subject to exceptions. The proposals were recommended by Finnish MEP Anneli Jäätteenmäki and were praised by the Commission.

 The Parliament and the Commission remain at impasse about larger reforms of the regulation.

For a description of the current state of play see a recent article by Staffan Dahllöf in wobbing-eu.

 The article begins:

EU-parliamentarians ask for more transparency for themselves, but less so for ordinary citizens. This adds complexity to an already complicated issue. New readers can start here.

A gap is widening between what might be disclosed to the public in general, and what the elected representatives – or some of them – would have access to, as EU-politicians ask for privileged access to classified documents.

Starting 3 October members of the European Parliaments Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs (LIBE) took a new round on a more than three-year-old proposal; the Commissions suggestion for a recast of the present regulation on access to documents.

The Committee is expected to vote for different amendments in November, leading to a final vote in plenary in December.

Parliament Backs Access-Info in Court Case

Additionally highlighting the Commission/Parliament divide on disclosure policy, parliament is supporting Access-Info in a court case lost by the Commission, but on appeal. The Council of the European Union is seeking confidentiality for the names of member states making legislative proposals. (See previous FreedomInfo.org reports.)

 

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