New Cypriot Presidency in EU Signals Interest in Access

6 July 2012

The new Cypriot presidency of the European Union has held meetings on access to information, showing interest in continuing work on the controversial topic, according to a person close the situation.

The possible revival comes after the June demise of the Danish presidency’s attempt to broker a compromise. The last gasp of the Danish effort is documented in a Danish memo obtained by FreedomInf.org.

Cypriot officials met with nongovernmental organizations July 5 to discuss amending the access regulation and also held talks with members of the European  Council, the Commission and the Parliament, the source said

The experienced Cypriot diplomat Dionysis Dionysiou is assigned to the dossier.

Driving the continuing work is a need to extend Regulation 1049, which addresses access to documents, to the institutions included under the Lisbon Treaty. However, the Commission and the Council are at odds with the Parliament over the degree of amendment necessary.

The June 22 Danish memo outlines the nine points proposed as a possible compromise and then briefly describes the meetings at which compromise was not achieved. (Also see previous FreedomInfo.org report) (and another one).

The Danes on June 8 told the Council’s Working Party on Information that discussions with the European Parliament “had been very constructive, but that – in the view of the Presidency – an adjusted Council preliminary position was required, if a result was to be achieved on the file.” The Danish presidency presented a draft revised mandate to the WPI, but, the memo states, “The WPI did however not share this assessment.”

It continues: “Some delegations raised the possibility of abandoning the reform process; others spoke for a limited package focusing on  the Commission proposal of 2011 and those elements that all parties could agree on.”

The Danish memo concludes by saying:

One option that could be pursued further would be to seek agreement on a narrow compromise, as was also discussed at the WPI meeting 8 June 2012. One element in the recast of the current Regulation has been particularly urgent: the institutional update to all institutions, bodies, offices and agencies following from the Lisbon Treaty, which has been in force since 2009. A narrow compromise could include this institutional enlargement. It could – if all institutions agree – also be expanded to selected elements in the current Council preliminary position where in principle there was consensus.

The selected elements are defined in a footnote as: “Århus alignment; data protection; access to  documents/transparency officers; improved access to legislative documents based on the Commission 2008 proposal.”

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