Heidi Hautala MEP claims victory in secrecy court case

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Heidi Hautala MEP, the co-leader of the Green/EFA group in the European Parliament, has said that she is delighted with the opinion of the Advocate General in the Court of First Instance, Phillippe Leger, on the appeal by the Council of the European Union (the 15 EU governments) against her victory in the court on 19 July 1999: Text of opinion (pdf file)

Heidi Hautala took out the court case against the Council when they refused to give access to their code of practice on arms exports. Unusually the Council appealed against the decision of the court that "partial access" should be granted even it some sections were blanked out - the decision to make the appeal was taken against the advice of the Finnish Presidency of the EU in 1999.

The Advocate General's opinion not only reinforces the original court decision but asserts the fundamental right of access to documents and cites the Charter of Fundamental Rights in support of the argument.

Heidi Hautala commented:

"I am pleased that the Advocate General recognises the fundamental importance of the principle of transparency as one of the surest methods of involving citizens in the management of public affairs."

A decision is expected from the court in September or October.

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