"Essays for an Open Europe"
The European Federation of Journalists (EFJ) has published a pamphlet, "Essays for an Open Europe" (html) or (pdf) written by editor of Statewatch Tony Bunyan, the leading academic Deirdre Curtin, Utrecht University, and the General Secretary of the EFJ Aidan White.
The chair of the European Federation of Journalists, Gustl Glattfelder, said: "The Amsterdam Treaty promises a fresh start for open government and the people's right to know - now is the moment of truth for transparency. These Essays present an unarguable case for greater democracy and openness for all."
The "Essays" have been written to put openness on the agenda and to encourage debate in civil society.
A new code on the citizens' right of access to documents in the European Union is currently being discussed by the European Commission, the Council of the European Union and the European Parliament. The three EU institutions have to agree a new code by May 2001 to meet the commitment in Article 255 of the Amsterdam Treaty to "enshrine" the right of access to documents.
In the "corridors of power" in Brussels the positions of these institutions indicate that they are heading for more secrecy and less openness. Indeed they seem more concerned with establishing rights for themselves (through so-called interinstitutional "deals") than for the citizen.
These essays have therefore been written to encourage a much wider debate throughout the whole of civil society so that its voice can be heard in a way that cannot be ignored. Access to documents in the EU is not a "gift" from on high to be packaged, sanitised and manipulated, it is a "right" which is fundamental in a democracy.
Access to documents "could fuel public discussion"
By Tony Bunyan, Editor Statewatch
Authoritarian temptation seduces EU decision-makers
By Deirdre Curtin, Professor of the Law of International Organisations, University of Utrecht
How Journalists Have Spiked NATO's Secrecy Guns
By Aidan White, General Secretary of the European Federation of Journalists
The reproduction of the "Essays" is positively encouraged: "Essays for an Open Europe"
or download as pdf file (249k) to print out and distribute (print outs offline as landscape publication)
European Federation of Journalists press release: "Moment of truth for transparency and democracy in Europe": English French
Statewatch News online