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Council offer deal to European Parliament to head off court action



The French Presidency of the EU attempted to head off the decision by the European Parliament to take the Council of the European Union to the European Court of Justice over the "Solana Decision" (see full-text below). It proposed that three members of the parliament should be given access to classified documents - the parliament's President, the Chair of the Foreign Affairs Committee and a third MEP appointed jointly by the EP and the Council.

The three MEPs would have been "accredited" (vetted) and would not have been allowed to tell any other MEPs about the contents of the documents passed to them.

This so-called "compromise proposal" by the Council of the European Union did not impress the Conference of Presidents (leader of the political groups) who voted to proceed with the court case.

TEXT

Subject: Arrangement concerning access by the European Parliament to classified information in the field of security and defence policy

Please find attached a 'working document' submitted by the Council Presidency with a view to the forthcoming discussions with the European Parliament on the above matter.

19 October 2000

Working document

Arrangement concerning access by the European Parliament to classified information in the field of security and defence policy

1. Scope

1.1 The Council and the Secretary-General/High Representative have taken various decisions aimed at protecting information classified as TRÈS SECRET/TOP SECRET, SECRET or CONFIDENTIEL in the field of security and defence policy(1). The present arrangement shall govern access by the European Parliament to such information.

1.2 The provisions of this arrangement shall apply without prejudice to the Decision of the European Parliament, the Council and the Commission of 19 April 1995 on the detailed provisions governing the exercise of the European Parliament's right of inquiry(2).

2. General rules

2.1 Transmission and processing of the information covered by this arrangement shall be subject to respect being shown for the interests which classification is intended to protect, including the public interest in matters relating to the security and defence of the Union or one or more of its Member States or to military or non-military crisis management.

2.2 Information originating from a non-Community State, institution or international body shall be transmitted only with their agreement.

3. Procedures for the provision of information to the European Parliament

3.1 The Council Presidency or the Secretary-General/High Representative shall, under the procedures provided for below, notify

- the President of the European Parliament,

- the chairman of the Committee on Foreign Affairs, Human Rights, Common Security and Defence Policy and

- a third Member of the European Parliament appointed by common accord of the President of the European Parliament and the President of the Council

of new developments in European security and defence policy.

3.2 In general, such information shall be provided every three months. In the event of a crisis or at the request of the President of the European Parliament, it shall be provided at shorter intervals.

3.3 The information provided shall enable the persons referred to in paragraph 3.1 above to gain as detailed an understanding of the situation as is possible without jeopardising the interests being protected.

4. Final provisions

4.1 The European Parliament and the Council shall take all necessary measures to ensure the implementation of the provisions of this arrangement, including the steps required for the accreditation of the persons involved.

4.2 The two institutions are willing to discuss comparable arrangements to cover classified information in other areas of the Council's activities.

________________

1. Council Decision of 14 August 2000 amending Decision 93/731/EC on public access to Council documents and Council Decision 2000/23/EC on the improvement of information on the Council's legislative activities and the public register of Council documents (OJ L 212, 23.8.2000, p. 9), and Decision of the Secretary-General/High Representative of 27 July 2000 on measures for the protection of classified information applicable to the General Secretariat of the Council (OJ C 239, 23.8.2000, p. 1).

2. OJ L 113, 19.5.1995, p. 2.



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