GREENS/ EUROPEAN FREE ALLIANCE IN THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT

PRESS RELEASE, Brussels, 26th of July, 2000

Javier Solana gets his own way on top-secret EU defence policy

NATO's culture of secrecy enters EU through backdoor

The Committee of the Permanent Representatives of the European Union (COREPER) is expected to take a decision this week (Wednesday 26th July) on a proposed block exemption to citizens' rights to access Council documents in the field of security and defence policy. COREPER is about to decide that the public would in no way have access to classified documents relating to military and non-military crisis management and other matters relating to the security of the European Union or one of its member states. This marks a major change to current rules according to the 1998 Council decision on the right of the public to access documents.

Heidi Hautala, Co-President of the Green/EFA Group said:

"It's appalling that such totalitarian measures are being proposed. It's now clear that the recent interference by the Council on the framework agreement between the Commission and the Parliament (demanding that confidential documents by "international organisations" should not fall into the hands of the European Parliament) was an early warning of today's proposed measure.

"This measure is clearly a consequence of the accelerated development of the common EU defence POLICY. But as recent as in the Feira Summitt in June, the heads of states agreed that there should be more "transparency" between the Union and NATO in the development of the common security and defence policy. It is now obvious that this new "transparency" means total secrecy. These new dictates seem to originate from Mr. Javier Solana, the Council Secretary General and High Representative in foreign and security policy, and his new partner in crime - the Secretary General of WEU, which until now has been the sleeping military arm of the Union. He is vigorously trying to introduce NATO's secretive methods into the EU through the backdoor. Unfortunately France and Germany especially seem to support his measures.

COREPER's proposed measure is utterly unacceptable. Firstly, such a decision will mean a block exemption for security and defence policy documents ruling that these would no longer be under transparency laws. This goes completely against the present public demands that all EU activities, with case-by-case justified exeptions, must be accessible.

Secondly, the decision would show that the Council not only want to classify documents concerning military measures, but also non-military crisis management such as the EU police force. This tendency is leaning towards more and more secrecy in all fields of security, even when there is nothing to hide.

Thirdly, such a decision would show that COREPER and the Council are trying to undermine the present common efforts of the Commission, Parliament and Council to formulate a set of common rules on public access to documents.

The Parliament must now say no to this manoeuvre by refusing to agree to such a block exemption.

For more information consult: http://www.statewatch.org/news

Heidi Hautala : 00 358 5060 076

Eluned Haf

Press Office

Green/ EFA group in the European Parliament

ehaf@europarl.eu.int

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