Survey shows which EU governments back openness, which do not



This survey by Statewatch looks at the response of EU governments since January this year to confirmatory applications (appeals) against the refusal to give access to documents in response to an application to the Council of the European Union. It confirms that Germany leads a group of nine EU governments (the others being France,
Italy, Austria, Belgium, Portugal, Spain, Luxembourg and Greece) which consistently oppose the release of EU documents (see also: analysis of positions of EU member states on the Council's draft common position).

While at home the German government espouses openness in the Bundestag and Bundesrat its permanent representation in Brussels has consistently pursued a policy against openness - a policy which France too is supporting.

Three member states (Denmark, Sweden and Finland) have consistently supported access on appeal and three other member states (Netherlands, UK and Ireland) have supported them in some appeals. Overall only six member states have taken a stand for openness. Finland, Denmark, Sweden and the UK deserve mention for "intervening" to support Heidi Hautala MEP in opposing the Council's appeal against the court's decision (on the issue of the partial release of documents) as do the Netherlands (backed by Sweden and Finland) for taking the Council to the Court of Justice over the "Solana Decision".

While nine member states (France, Italy, Austria, Belgium, Portugal, Spain, Luxembourg, Greece and Germany) consistently vote against openness.

Analysis

So far this year there have been 33 confirmatory applications (appeals against the refusal of access) and there have been dissenting votes by member states of 24 of these. The table below sets out the otes of EU member states:

EU Member State Votes for access (% for access) Votes against
Denmark 21 (88%) 3
Sweden 20  (83%) 4
Finland 14  (58%) 10
Netherlands 7    (29%) 17
UK 5    (20%) 19
Ireland 4    (17%) 20
Italy -      (0%) 24
Austria -      (0%) 24
Belgium -      (0%) 24
Portugal -      (0%) 24
Luxembourg -      (0%) 24
France -      (0%) 24
Spain -      (0%) 24*
Greece 1     (4%) 23*
Germany 1     (4%) 23*

* Note: Spain, Greece and Germany voted no in a "reverse" vote opposing the release of   documents when 12 member states   were in favour.

Breakdown of votes:

Confirmatory application (appeal against refusal) EU member states voting for more access

Vote in council overall:

vote refusing access followed by vote for access to document(s)

1. Steve Peers (13/00)
(General Affairs, 24.1.00)
doc nos: 13575/99, 13576/99
Denmark & Sweden 13-2
2. Steve Peers (14/00)
General Affairs, 24.1.00)
doc nos: 13933/99, 13934/99
Denmark & Sweden 13-2
3. Tony Bunyan (01/00)
ECOFIN, 28.2.00
Doc no: 5437/00
Sweden 14-1
4. Steve Peers (01/00)
ECOFIN, 28.2.00
doc no: 5440/00, 5441/00
Denmark & Sweden 13-2
5. R. Louski (01/00)
ECOFIN, 28.2.00
doc no: 5785/00
Denmark, Finland & Sweden 12-3
6. Steve Peers (02/00)
(General Affairs, 10.4.00)
doc no: 6349/00, 6350/00
Denmark, Finland & Sweden 12-3
7. Steve Peers (03/00)
(General Affairs, 10.4.00)
doc no: 6882/00, 6883/00
Denmark 14-1
8. Mrs A Bergman-Tahon
(General Affairs, 10.4.00)
doc no: 6624/00
Denmark & Finland 13-2
9. Roland Louski
(General Affairs, 10.4.00)
Denmark & Finland 13-2
10. Steve Peers (04/00)
(General Affairs, 22.5.00)
doc no: 7820/00
Denmark & Sweden 13-2
11. Caspar Bowden
(General Affairs, 22.5.00)
doc no: 7892/00
Denmark, Finland & Sweden 12-3
12. Tony Bunyan (02/00)
(General Affairs, 10.7.00)
doc nos: 8467/00 & 8468/00
Denmark, Netherlands, Finland & Sweden 11-4
13. Tony Bunyan (03/00)
(General Affairs, 10.7.00)
doc no: 8724/00
Denmark, Finland & Sweden 12-3
14. Jelle van Buuren (01/00)
General Affairs, 10.7.00)
doc nos:9126/00, 9127/00, 9128/00
Sweden 14-1
15. Jelle van Buuren (02/00)
(General Affairs, 10.7.00)
doc no: 9287/00, 9288/00
Denmark & Sweden  13-2
16. Jelle van Buuren (04/00)
(General Affairs, 18.9.00)
doc no: 10157/00, 10158/00
Denmark & Sweden 13-2
17. Raphael Vuitton (01/00)
(General Affairs, 18.9.00)
doc no: 10310/00
Denmark, Finland & Sweden 12-3
18. Tony Venables
JHA Council, 28.9.00
Doc no: 10834/00, 10835/00
Denmark, Netherlands, Finland, Sweden & UK 10-5
19. Michael Traest (01/00)
General Affairs, 9.10.00
doc nos: 10866/00, 10867/00
Denmark, Netherlands, Finland & Sweden 11-4
20. Tony Bunyan (05/00)
Research Council, 16.11.00
WPI, 13.10.00, doc nos: 11315/00, 11316/00, 12329/00
Denmark, Greece, Ireland, Netherlands, Finland, Sweden & UK   8-7
21. Oscar Waglund Soderstrom(01/00)
ECOFIN, 7.11.00
Doc nos: 11482/00, 11483/00
Denmark, Germany, Ireland, Netherlands, Finland, Sweden & UK    8-7
22. Tony Bunyan (06/00)
ECOFIN, 7.11.00
Doc no: 11572/00
Denmark, Ireland, Netherlands, Finland, Sweden & UK    9-6
23. Tony Bunyan (07/00)
ECOFIN, 7.11.00
doc nos: 12132/00, 12133/00, 12133/1/00 REV 1, 12133/2/00 REV 2
nb: "reverse" vote: Germany, Spain & Greece

   3-12

* A rare "reverse" vote: 12 member states in favour of release, 3 against

24. Tony Bunyan (08/00)
ECOFIN, 7.11.00
Doc no: 12135/00, 12136/00
Denmark, Ireland, Netherlands, Finland, Sweden & UK    9-6

* This "reverse" vote concerned the refusal of access to documents concerning the European Security and Defence POlicy (ESDP). Statewatch requested copies of five documents all of which were turned down on the same general grounds that access "could be detrimental the the development and functioning of the European Security and Defence Policy". Statewatch's appeal said: "It was not acceptable in a democratic society that all policymaking (as distinct from operations) should be carried out in secret and with the citizens having no say or chance to see how and why decisions are being made in their name." The Working Party on Information first agreed unanimously to release the documents (12132/00), then Germany recorded its opposition (12133/00), then got Spain to join it (12133/1/00 REV 1) and then Greece to join opposition to the release of the documents (12133/2/00 REV 2).



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