Statewatch analytical observatory: Comparison of the positions of the Commission, Council and the European Parliament on the new code of access and with the existing 1993 Decision (prior to the "Solana Decision" in July 2000)

This analytical observatory compares the position taken by the Council and the European Parliament on the Commission's proposal.

The Council's draft common position of 18 August (SN 2970/3/00) is included, this will be updated with the adopted common position of the Council after the General Affairs Council on 20 November. See analysis of Council's draft position and the position of Member States: Draft Common position

The European Parliament's first reading position will adopted at its plenary session 13-17 November in Strasbourg. The emerging position of the main committee, the Committee on Freedoms and Rights, will be added after its meeting on 23 October in Strasbourg.

Conclusion: This analysis shows that the Commission's proposal and the Council's draft Common Position would give less access to documents than at present. This is entirely against the intent and spirit of Article 255 of the Amsterdam Treaty.

Commission's proposal Council's draft position (deletions in italics and square brackets [], additions in bold) EP draft position
Article 1
General principle and beneficiaries

Any citizen of the Union, and any natural or legal person residing or having its registered office in a Member State, shall have the right to the widest possible access to the documents of the institutions within the meaning of this Regulation, without having to cite reasons for their interest, subject to the exceptions laid down in Article 4.
Article 1
General principle and beneficiaries

Any citizen of the European Union, and any natural or legal person residing or having its registered office in a Member State, shall have [the] a right of [to the widest possible] access to the documents of the institutions within the meaning of this Regulation, without having to cite reasons for their interest, subject to the [exceptions laid down in Article 4]. principles and the limits defined in the present Regulation.


Comment: This Article is new and the Commission's version reflects Article 255 of the Amsterdam Treaty. Neither the Commission or Council would allow non-EU people/organisations the right of access to documents. The Council version even deletes "widest possible" from the intent.

Outcome: The commitment to access to documents is meaningless unless reflected in the detail, which it is not.

Commission's proposal Council's draft position (deletions in square brackets [], additions in bold) EP draft position
Article 2
Scope

1. This Regulation shall apply to all documents held by the institutions, that is to say, documents drawn up by them or received from third parties and in their possession.

Access to documents from third parties shall be limited to those sent to the institution after the date on which this Regulation becomes applicable.

2. This Regulation shall not apply to documents already published or accessible to the public by other means. It shall not apply where specific rules on access to documents exist.
Article 2
Scope

1. This Regulation shall apply to all documents held by the institutions , that is to say, documents drawn up by them or received from third parties and in their possession.

[Access to documents from third parties shall be limited to those sent to the institution after the date on which this Regulation becomes applicable.

2. This Regulation shall not apply to documents already published or accessible to the public by other means.

It shall not apply where specific rules on access to documents exist.]



1993 Decision, existing code of access (prior to the Solana Decision):
Article 1: 1.1 The public shall have access to Council documents under the conditions laid down in this Decision.

Comment: Commission and Council agree. This general statement is completely undermined by later provisions. The Council's deletion of the provision that the Regulation will not apply to documents "alread

 

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