Solana plans for the security state agreed, an end to EU openness?


- Mr Jacob Soderman, the European Ombudsman, said in an interview that there was no need to change the code of access to protect military secrets, that the new code should not put "non-military" issues in the same bracket (Aamulehti, 12.8.00)

- new Code to replace 1993 Decision on public access to documents to protect military and non-military documents but affecting all access to documents linked to these issues agreed by EU governments

- no classified documents to be released, ever; no distinction made been policymaking (which should be public) and operational details; similar rules to cover police and judicial cooperation are being drawn up

- the proposal completely undermines the EU commitment in the Amsterdam Treaty (Article 255) to enshrines the public's right of access to documents

- European Commission to change its proposed new measure to meet the Solana changes

- national and European parliaments not consulted; Code adopted by "written procedure" on 14 August



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At the meeting of COREPER (committee of Brussels-based permanent representatives of the 15 member states) on Wednesday 26 July a proposal by Mr Solana, the Secretary-General of the Council of the European Union was adopted with only three countries voting against (Netherlands, Finland and Sweden). The new rules on public access to documents - replacing the 1993 Decision - were adopted by "written procedure" on 14 August ( the decision was simply circulated to the Member States and adopted). The new Decision came into effect with its publication in the Official Journal on 23 August.

The 12 member states supporting the proposal favour were: the UK, Germany, Denmark, Austria, Italy, Greece, Belgium, Ireland, Luxembourg, France, Portugal and Spain. Portugal was in favour of an even more secretive measure. Only the Netherlands and Denmark broke ranks with the other EU NATO members. Denmark, the Netherlands, Sweden and Finland issued a statement opposing the new Decision, the European Commission issued a statement saying that it would reconsider its proposal currently before the European Parliament: Full-text of Statements

It is was further agreed that the new rules have to be incorporated into the draft measure put forward by the Commission in January and now being discussed by the European Parliament.

The new rules would totally undermine the commitment in the Amsterdam Treaty (Article 255 of the Treaty on the European Communities) to enshrine the public's right of access to EU documents - Article 28 of the Treaty on European Union says that Article 255 on public access to documents also apply to the common security and foreign policy.

In another report entitled: "Plan for the security of the Council", also from Mr Solana, it says that similar specific rules to completely restrict access to document on police and judicial cooperation are being considered.

Tony Bunyan, Statewatch editor, commented:

"This heralds the imposition of the security state in the EU with all the paranoia that goes with it. The future of democratic accountability in the EU now has to be confronted."



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The new rules completely re-shape the current code of public access to documents by making it a code to protect EU documents on security, defence, military and non-military crises management (full-text below). A further report redefines the Council's classification code adopted in 1995. The proposal was put forward by Mr Solana, the EU High Representative for common foreign and security policy and Secretary-General of the Council of the European Union.

When the proposal was suddenly introduced at the Council's Working Party on Information (comprised of the press officers from the EU's member states permanent offices in Brussels

 

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