26 July 2000 - the day of the infamous "Solana Decision"

The Council of the European Union have just released to Statewatch a copy of the letter from Lord Robertson, the Secretary-General of NATO, to Me Solana, Secretary General of the Council which lead to the infamous "Solana Decision".

Lord Robertson's letter is dated 26 July 2000 and the acceptance by Mr Solana of the conditions set by NATO is also dated 26 July 2000. However, it now turns out that Lord Robertson's letter was not received by the Council until a day later, 27 July 2000. The Council Secretariat's date-stamp on the front page of the Roberston letter registers it as having been received on 27 July 2000 and the circulation list is: "M. Javier Solana, M.de Boisseu, Mme.Stifani".

It is therefore quite intriguing how Mr Solana answer a letter he had not received and perhaps more so when he could reply:

"I am pleased to inform you of my acceptance of said letter which, together with this reply, constitute Interim Security Arrangements which enter into force on the date of this reply."

Statewatch News online, March 2002

The 26th of July 2000 was an extraordinary day when the top-level committee of Brussels-based permanent representatives of the 15 EU member states, COREPER, agreed in secret to replace the 1993 Code of access to EU documents with a new code of access to meet the demands of NATO for secrecy. Only three countries voted against - the Netherlands, Finland and Sweden. This decision was formally approved by another secret process - "written procedure", whereby a telexed text is agreed unless a EU government objects - on 14 August 2000, see: "The Solana Decision"

Parliaments - national and European - were not consulted and civil society was ignored.

The European Parliament took out a case against the Council in the European Court of Justice, only to drop it when the 26 July decision was replaced by the new Regulation on access to documents (Case C-387/00, Parliament v Council, for annulment of 2000 Council Decision amending the 1993 Council decision on access to
documents, formally withdrawn 22 March 2002) - despite the fact that the new Regulation itself was fundamentally affected by by the 26 July 2000 decision.

Now, nearly two years later, the full meaning of the "Solana coup" as some called it has come to light.

The day, 26 July 2000, that COREPER agreed the measure the Secretary General of NATO, Lord Robertson, wrote to Mr Solana, the General Secretary of the Council of the European Union, detailing an interim agreement between the Council and NATO. By return, the very same day, Mr Solana, accepted in toto the terms on behalf of the General Secretariat of the Council - the letter of acceptance is extraordinary as it simply repeats the text of Lord Robertson's letter in "quotes" and adds: "I am pleased to inform you of my acceptance of said letter which, together with this reply, constitute Interim Security Agreements which enter into force on the date of this reply" (see full-text of the Solana letter obtained by freedom of information campaigners is below).

What makes the exchange of letters between Solana and Robertson beyond the pale is that the decision in COREPER was only a decision in principle, the formal adoption of the decision did not happen until 14 August.

Tony Bunyan, Statewatch editor, commented:

"As Neil Kinnock, EU Commissioner, is reported as saying recently: "It is usually much easier to reach an agreement if there are no listeners. It is not a question of secrecy, but of being able to act more efficiently" (19.3.02).

Those holding power do not need to conspire, they simply proceed down a road they are already agreed on. The sheer arrogance of the "Solana Decision" is breath-taking and shows an utter contempt for democratic standards."

Full text of the letter from Mr Solana (Secretary-General of the Council of the European Union), dated 26.7.00, in reply to the let


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