2000-2001: Adoption of the new regulation on access to EU documents

This "Observatory" tracks the progress of the new measure to put into effect Article 255 of the Amsterdam Treaty to "enshrine" the citizens' right of access to documents from the Council of the European Union, the European Commission and the European Parliament. The measure has to be agreed by these three insitutions under the co-decision procedure.

The "Observatory" has five sections: "Current drafts on the table" and (A) the current Decisions on public access to EU documents and the Commission proposal(s) (B.1) reports from the European Parliament committees (B.2) European Parliament vote on 1st reading report (C) proposals by the Council (D) critiques and comments by civil society.

Updated 31.5.01 - see below. This "Observatory" now represents an archive of the legislative process leading to the adoption of the new Regulation. For news after this see:

  1. Secret Europe
  2. FOI in the EU
  3. Statewatch's Case Law Observatory on acess to EU documents

Final version of the new EU code of access to documents: Netherlands court case withdrawn & European Parliament negotiating over access to classified documents: New Regulation (html) New Regulation (pdf file)

Final "compromise" text adopted by the European Parliament (3.5.01) and the Council of the European Union (14.5.01): Full-text


The "compromise/common text" agreed between the Council, the Commission and the European Parliament's Committee on Citizens' Freedoms and Rights will be discussed in the parliament's plenary session on Wednesday, 2 May and voted on 3 May. The new Regulation is a combination of the Commission's original proposal as amended by the parliament's report:

Commission's proposed Regulation on public access to documents (2nd version, 21.2.00): Text (html)

Amendments to the Commission proposal by the parliament: Text (Word 97, dated 25.4.01)

Critique from civil society of the compromise Regulation: Text (html)

The "compromise/common texts" of the Council and the EP delegation:

Council version of "common text": Council (pdf) Council (html)

Cashman (PSE)/Maij-Weggen(PPE) version of "compromise/common text": Text (11.4.01, Word 97) Text (17.4.01, pdf)

Amendments to the amendments: 19.4.01: Cashman (PSE)/Maij-Weggen(PPE): Text (Word 97)

Comments on the amendments: More compromises

Amendments to the "compromise/common text"

Amendments to the "compromise text" from the Green/EFA group and the ELDR (Liberals): Amendments (Word 97)

The view of civil society

The position of  Statewatch, the European Federation of Journalists (EFJ), European Citizens Action Service (ECAS), European Environmental Bureau (EEB) Professor Deirdre Curtin, Utrecht University and a member of the Standing Committee of Experts ("The Meijers Committee", Utrecht) and Ulf Oberg, Stockholm University: Critique of the "Brussels stitch-up" (html)

Do the proposed "common text" agreed by the Council and the EP delegation lower current standards?
Analysis by Steve Peers, Reader in Law, Human Rights Centre, University of Essex: Lower standards

Draft Council common position

11.4.01: Common text with the Cashman/Maij-Weggen text (version 2 of this draft): Text (Word 97)

4.4.01: Common text with Cashman/Maij-Weggen text of 5.4.01: Text   Critique This draft Council position would also significantly undermine rights available under the current code of access to EU documents. The European Parliament's representatives have consistently said they would not support any proposal which undermine current rights. Analysis: Council draft position undermines existing rights

Current draft of the European Parliaments' 1st reading position:

Version 6: Cashman/Maij-Weggen(PSE/PPE) report (Word 97) 11.4.01

Version 5: Cashman/Maij-Weggen(PSE/PPE) report (pdf) 5.4.01

Version 4: Cashman/Maij-Weggen (PSE/PPE) report (Word 97). 22.3.01. Critique of report: Critique

First "trilogue" series comparison of texts on the new code from each of the three institutions

NB: the comparative table on SN 1296 contains the text of the European Parliament's report adopted on 16 November 2000, the European Parliament's position in SN 1652 and SN 1715 contains the European Parliament's "compromise" text. With the breakdown of  the "trialogue" discussions the parliament has reverted to its original position in SN 1296.

Comparison of the three drafts as at 19.1.01: SN 1296 (pdf file) SN 1296 (Word 97)

Comparison of the three drafts as at 13.2.01: SN 1652 (Word 97)

Comparison of the three drafts as at 15.2.01: SN 1715 (pdf file) SN 1715 (Word 97)

To date there have been four versions of the parliament's report. The latest, dated 20 February, is "on the table" of the Committee for Citizens' Freedoms and Rights:

Ver 3:Cashman/Maij-Weggen (PSE/PPE) report (Word 97, 20.2.01) Critique of report: Critique

Ver 4: Cashman/Maij-Weggen (PSE/PPE) report (Word 97, 22.3.01) Critique of report: Critique

  1. The current Decision(s) and the Commission's proposal(s)

Decision 93/731, December 1993:    1993 Council Decision

Decision 2000/23, December 1999:  1999 Decision

Decision 2000/527, adopted August 2000: 2000 Decision   Background to this Decision: Background

Commission's "unpublished" discussion papers, 22.1.99 and 23.4.99

Commission's unpublished and leaked drafts of proposal:  22.10.99 and 29.11.99

Commission's proposed Regulation on public access to documents (1st version, 26 January 2000): Jan 2000

Commission's proposed Regulation on public access to documents (2nd version, 21 February 2000): Feb 2000

  1. 1. Reports from the European Parliament's committees

The lead committee in the European Parliament is the Citizens' Freedom and Rights Committee. Five other committees will be adopting "opinions" on the proposed new measure which will be submitted to the lead committee for it to take into consideration before adopting its final report. This final report will go to a plenary session of the full parliament. After this the Council will make its views known on the Commission's proposal. The Commission can amend its proposal at any time and would respond to the EPs' and Council positions. The measure, as revised by the Commission, then goes back to the parliament.

Citizen's Freedom and Rights Committee (rapporteur: Michael Cashman)

1st draft report: Cashman ("rtf" format)

2nd draft report: now a "Common Position" between Cashman (PSE) and Maij-Weggen (PPE) for this Committee and the Committee on Constitutional Affairs: Cashman/Maij-Weggen 3rd draft, 15.9.00: Cashman/Maij-Weggen2 (Word97)

Amendments proposed to the Cashman/Maij-Weggen report (2) for the meeting on 23 October:

Amendments (PDF format) Amendments (Word 97)

Cashman/Maij-Weggen report adopted by the Committee on 23.10.00 which now goes to the EP's plenary session on 15 November: Cashman/Weggen-final  (Word 97)  Statewatch's proposed amendments to this report in line with improving citizens' right of access to EU documents: Statewatch

Committee on Constitutional Affairs (rapporteur: Hanja Maij-Weggen)

1st Draft report: Maij-Weggen (PDF format) Adopted report, 18.10.00: Maij-Weggen2 (Word 97)

Legal Affairs and Internal Market Committee (rapporteur: Heidi Hautala)

Draft report:  Hautala Report adopted unanimously 10 October with minor amendments: Hautala2 (PDF format)

Culture Committee (rapporteur: Ole Andreasen)

Draft report: Andreasen (PDF format) Report adopted 10 October: Andreasen2 (PDF format)

Petitions Committee (rapporteur: Astrid Thors)

Draft report: Thors  (PDF format) Report adopted on 10 October: Thors2 (PDF format)

Foreign Affairs Committee (rapporteur: Cecilia Malmstrom)

Draft report: Malmstrom (PDF format) Report adopted 10 October with major changes deleting amendments for more openness: Malmstrom2 (PDF format)

Committee on Budgetary Control (rapporteur: Diemut Theato)

Draft report: Theato (PDF format) Adopted report: Theato2 (Word 97)

  1. 2. European Parliament plenary vote on 1st reading report

European Parliament vote on report on access to documents on 16 November: Full list of amendments, voting list and analysis: EP vote

European Parliament "has ignored civil society" plus full-text of the report adopted: Report

European Parliament adopt report on access to EU documents - but what happened to citizens'
rights?: EP vote, where now?

  1. The Council's proposals on the new measure

6th version: new draft date (29.1.01): New draft

5th version: draft (dated 22.12.00): New draft (pdf)

4th version: draft (dated 18.12.00) of Council's common position leaves the incoming Swedish Presidency with a difficult job: New draft

3rd version (dated 1.12.00) "Solana Decision" extended to cover justice and home affairs, trade and aid: "Solana Two Decision"

2nd version of draft common position: Solana Decision" back on the agenda (28.11.00): "Solana Two"

1st version: Council's draft position on access to documents, full-text and analysis: Council

Survey shows which EU governments back openness, which do not:  Openness survey (29.11.00)

  1. Critiques and commentaries by civil society

Speech by Tony Bunyan, Statewatch editor, to the "hearing" in the European Parliament on 18 September: Talk

Statewatch: Amendments to Commission proposal  Analysis

European Environment Bureau: EEB

European Federation of Journalists: EFJ

Select Committee on the European Union, House of Lords, UK: Report


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