Council conclusion of 29 June 1998 on public access to Council documents

In the context of the bi-annual review of Council Decision 93/731/EC on public access to Council documents provided for in Article 9 of that Decision, the Council has adopted the following conclusions:

1. The Council takes note of the report from the Secretary-General on the implementation of Council Decision 93/731/EC of 20 December 1993 on public access to Council documents during 1996 and 1997.

2. The Council notes that there has been a significant increase in requests for Council documents and welcomes the increase in positive responses given to these requests, which has risen to 78% in 1996/1997, up from 58.7% in 1994/1995. This evolution reflects the experiences of the Council and the General Secretariat in the day-to-day conduct of that policy and proves the Decision's value in promoting openness and transparency.

3. In a spirit of openness and transparency, access to Council documents should be granted, whenever possible, when the Council acts as legislator. In those cases, article 4, paragraph 2 of the Decision (refusal of access in order to protect the confidentiality of the Council's proceedings) will continue to be invoked only as strictly necessary.

4. The Council notes that the identification of Council documents will be facilitated by the creation, as soon as possible, preferably during 1998, of a listing of Council documents available via Internet, following the Council decision of 19 March 1998.

5. The Council notes that increased access to documents is but one aspect of its aim to make its work more open and transparent to the citizen. It therefore welcomes the initiatives taken to inform the public about the Council's activities, including the publication of an Information Guide to the Council by the General Secretariat, the active policy in informing the public about the public sessions of the Council, as well as recent improvements in the Council web site and the establishment of a public E-mail address.