Statewatch News online: EP votes for "deal" with Council

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European Parliament votes in favour of "deal" with the Council on access to EU documents

- campaign for an open and democratic Europe to continue

The plenary session of the European Parliament on 3 May voted in favour of adopting the "deal" reached with the Council (the 15 EU governments) on a new Regulation on citizens' right of access to EU documents.

The vote was 400 votes in favour, 85 against and 12 abstentions on the final vote on the legislative resolution. The EPP (conservative), PSE (Socialist) and ELDR (Liberal) groups were in favour, the Greens/EFA, GUE (European United Left) and EDD (Europe of Democracies) groups voted against: see: Green/EFA group press release. In a nominal vote on amendment 95, which seeks to oblige the member states to "respect the security rules of the institutions", the vote was 370 in favour, 115 against, 11 abstentions.

In the previous vote on 16 November last year: 409 voted in favour of the report from Michael Cashman (PSE) and Hanji Maij-Weggen (PPE), only 3 voted against with the Green MEPs abstaining.

The first draft report, dated 3 August 2000, on the response to the Commission proposal, was presented by Michael Cashman (PSE) and Hanji Maij-Weggen (PPE) giving the first hint that there was an "unholy alliance" between the two largest parties in the parliament. At first, this was strenuously denied but it became apparent - after the vote on 16 November - that this alliance was determined to negotiate with the Council to reach a deal - without having to go through the proper and normal co-decision process. MEP rapporteurs from other committees (and other parties) - who should have been fully involved in all the negotiations - appear to have been excluded from the final, crucial, concessions to the Council from early April.

Leading civil society groups had written to all MEPs calling on them to reject the "deal" with the Council: Open letter from civil society

Tony Bunyan, Statewatch editor, comments:

"It shows that on this issue the majority in the European Parliament are closer to the governments in the Council than they are to the people who they represent.

Citizens and civil society were promised that the commitment in the Amsterdam Treaty would "enshrine" their rights of access to EU documents. Instead all three Brussels institutions have colluded, through secret negotiations rather than open procedures, to reach a deal that suits them.

The campaign for an "Open Europe", which has gathered in strength over the past two years, will have to continue its work. The call from civil society for an open, accountable and democratic Europe may have been ignored on this occasion but its case stands, unanswered."

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