Journalists angry over the European Parliament's views on transparency
- Swedish Union of Journalists

MEPs call for greater transparency - but want exceptions for themselves. The parliament also wants to classify information which could be disadvantageous to the interests of the European Union or of one or more of its Member States.

"They have apparently learned nothing and understood nothing", says Journalist Association President Agneta Lindblom Hulthén.

In a preliminary vote last week EP said no to the two central parts of the Commission proposal on new transparency rules in the EU:

• The documents to be covered may not be defined more limited than what is happening today.
• Proposal to erect a wall around its own management, for example on the treatment of competition issues, must be rejected.

So far, the Parliament in line with the Journalist Association requirements, and with clear statements from the Swedish Minister of Justice Beatrice Ask and Minister for European Affairs Cecilia Malmström.

But at the same time it proposed in all seriousness:

• that they voted for their own accounts not to be subject to the desired transparency, and
• that the EU institutions have more opportunities to classified documents. It is sufficient that one "can be detrimental" to the EU or a member of it shall not be disclosed! Selected and approved MPs would be allowed to read the secret documents, but do not tell anyone what they have read.

The Swedish Journalists Unin is strongly critical of the Commission's attempt to turn the clock back, and outraged by the Parliaments suggestions.

"The European Parliament seems to have a confused view on democracy. That after the scandals uncovered and under present economic circumstances to fight transparency means that Parliament tempts to citizens' patience and jeopardize their confidence", says Agneta Lindblom Hulthén.

For future negotiations under Swedish leadership Journalistförbundet requires increased and not reduced transparency. This includes:

• No to the exception covering whole categories of documents.
• Keep the existing definition of accessible document - and add databases.
• Prevent other legislation, such as the Personal Data Directive, taking over transparency rules.
• Stop the opportunities for member countries to put a veto on the documents
• Limit, not expand, the publication online.
• Act on setting up proper document registers.
• Keep or shorten time limits for dealing with requests for transparency.

[Translation]

Swedish Union of Journalists (link)


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