THE GREENS/EFA IN THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT, PRESS RELEASE - Brussels, 25 April 2001

Access to documents of the EU institutions

European Parliament falls victim to "Stockholm Syndrome"

The Green/EFA Group in the European parliament today voted against a draft regulation on access to documents of EU institutions presented to the EP's Committee on Citizens' Freedom and Rights, Justice and Home Affairs Committee by MEPs Michael Cashman and Hanja Maij-Weggen.

Speaking after the vote, Heidi Hautala, President of the Green/EFA Group, said:

"Today a chance was missed to reject a demand by the Council to obtain far reaching rights to declare a large number of documents "sensitive documents" inaccessible. The Parliament's negotiators ended up defending the Council's ever widening special security interests; according to the voted text "sensitive documents" could encompass anything from economic policy, international relations and trade to security and defence policy. If this text is approved in the plenary session next week, only a limited number of security checked persons will have access to these documents and also have the right to decide whether reference to these documents is made in a public register. The infamous Solana decision is not dead, it has in a new way been given a new lease of life and threatens to contaminate the new regulation on public access to EU documents."

"Instead of defending the interests of the public and parliament, the majority of MEPs today backed the interests of the Council and the Swedish EU Presidency. They obviously fell victim to the "Stockholm syndrome", an expression psychologists use to describe the phenomenon of hostages identifying themselves with the hostage-takers."

"The handling of this important issue showed clearly how an accelerated co-decision procedure between European Parliament and Council can work to the detriment of public interest and be null and void of any transparency. It is sad that this had to be shown on a key question of openness and access to documents in the European Union."

"The Greens/EFA deplore the eagerness with which MEPs sacrificed the public's right to access to EU documents in order for few select MEPs to get a privileged access to some sensitive documents."

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Press Service of the Greens/EFA Group
in the European Parliament

Helmut Weixler
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