THE GREENS/EFA IN THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT, PRESS RELEASE, Brussels, 31 August 2000

Greens/EFA asks the European Parliament to take Council to court over access to EU documents

Greens/EFA challenge Solana's "military coup"

The Greens/European Free Alliance Group will question the legality of restricting access to EU Council documents as proposed in July by the Council's Secretary General and High Representative in foreign and security policy Javier Solana. The new secrecy rules, already adopted by Council, deny EU citizens access to classified documents relating to military and non-military crisis management or other matters relating to the security of the EU or one of its member states.

The Legal Affairs Committee of the European Parliament will address the matter on Monday (4th of September) in Strasbourg in the presence of the parliament's legal service.

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

"Solana is trying to set the clock back. After the Amsterdam Treaty, Council alone cannot legislate on the access to information. According to article 255, the matter is clearly subject to the co-decision procedure, which means that the European Parliament must have its say on the matter."

"Legally, on the basis of article 28 of TEU, it is also crystal clear that the Common Foreign and Security Police is NOT exempt as a whole from transparency and openness. The Amsterdam Treaty grants EU citizens the right to access documents in all policy areas. Of course there may be certain circumstances where confidential information such as those related to operational military secrets can be declared secret - but these exemptions must be well reasoned.

"The Greens/EFA call upon the European Parliament to take Council to Court, if it does not annul its secrecy rules which by far exceed the legitimate aims of protecting military secrets. This is Solana's own "military coup". He wants to overthrow the Council's transparency policy that will have far-reaching consequences for EU citizens' right to know what EU officials are doing on a wide range of military as well as civilian matters. The European Parliament must be involved in the future set up of the European Security and Defence Policy. It is the only institution that can hold the Council democratically accountable for its policies."

For further information, please contact Heidi Hautala, tel. +358 50 600 76.


Statewatch News online