THE GREENS/EFA IN THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT, PRESS RELEASE, Brussels, 13 September 2000

Parliament recommended to take Council to Court over access to security documents

"Solana's choice: Listen to Parliament or listen to Court!"

The Green/EFA Group in the European Parliament welcomes today's recommendation by the parliament's Legal Affairs committee to take legal action against Council over its decision last July to unilaterally change the rules on access to documents. The socialists were the only political group to vote against the decision taken by 13 to 10 votes. The vote in the Committee followed the Green/EFA Group's President Heidi Hautala's initiative to examine whether the Council decision breached against the Parliament's prerogatives.

Council deliberately agreed during parliament's summer recess to a block exemption to citizens' rights to access Council documents in the field of security and defence policy. They followed an initiative by Javier Solana, the Council's Secretary General and High Representative in Foreign and Security Policy.

The committee's recommendation will be forwarded to parliament's President, Nicole Fontaine, who will decide how to proceed.

Heidi Hautala, who is also Member in charge for the transparency regulation in the Legal Affairs Committee, said:

"The Legal Affairs Committee's decision is an important step to defend the rights of citizens to have access to documents. It also shows that Council cannot violate parliament's right to be involved in the decision making process as stipulated in article 225 of the Amsterdam Treaty. If they will not listen to parliament then they will have to listen to the Court."

"Now its up to the parliament's president to convince Council that its decision must be reversed. Parliament will have go to Court if the situation does not improve through negotiations. Unfortunately, an agreement seems unlikely, given the stubbornness of Solana and NATO and the bilateral security agreement signed in July by NATO and the Council's Secretariat. Their arrogance became clear when NATO turned down an invitation to attend Parliament's Civil Liberties Committee which will hold a public meeting to discuss transparency rules on Monday, 18 September."

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

Helmut Weixler (press officer)

phone: 0032-2-284.4683
fax: 0032-2-284.4944
mobile phone: 0032-75-67 13 40
e-mail: hweixler@europarl.eu.int
website: www.europarl.eu.int/greens-efa


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