|Leaked documents show Council of the EU changing law to restrict transparency|
9 May 2012
Environmental law NGO ClientEarth has been leaked documents that show the Council is trying to strike a deal on the recast of the “Regulation on public access to European Parliament, Council and Commission documents” (Regulation 1049/2001) that will severely set back journalists, NGOs and citizens scrutinising the decision making processes of EU institutions.
The documents ClientEarth have received detail proposed amendments to the regulation. They advocate for whole categories of documents to no longer be considered as documents (information will only become a document accessible to the public “When it has been drawn up by an institution and either formally transmitted to one or more recipients, or submitted for filing or registration, approved by the competent official or otherwise completed for the purposes for which it was intended”).
The documents also show greater restrictions on the right of access to any documents concerning infringement proceedings against Member States, court documents, state aids or legal opinions. This prevention of scrutiny would allow the institutions much greater flexibility to flout the advice of their own legal services.
Anais Berthier, access to information lawyer at ClientEarth, said: “If the recast goes ahead as planned it is likely to mean drafts, emails and other similar material will no longer be publicly accessible – only officially sanctioned material will be available. And, time limits for the institutions to reply to requests for information are doubled.”
“The Council is currently trying to establish a common position on these proposals before discussing them with the Parliament and Commission. The process itself is opaque, with all discussions occurring behind closed doors.”
ClientEarth runs the European Union Aarhus Centre which works to further EU transparency.
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