EU: Freedom of Information in the EU

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Should there be a Freedom of Information Act for the EU? (European Citizens Action Service,pdf)

Brussels criticised on access to documents law (euobserver, link)

The European Commission proposes to improve public access to documents of the EU institutions (Commission press release, pdf)

Tony Bunyan, Statewatch editor, comments:

"Mr Barroso says "the access to document rules are working well. These changes seek to improve the access to documents for European citizens". While Commissioner Wallstrom says "Access to documents is an essential tool for democracy and now we want to improve it".

The rules on access are not working well and these changes will takes us several steps backwards. For example, the Commission does not agree with the definition of a "document" in the Regulation, so it wants to change it. The Commission's public register of documents is a joke so now it wants to change the rules. There would be a longer list of exceptions to refuse access, including mandatory exceptions where applications do not even have to be considered. And would leave in place the rule which allows the institutions to deny access to documents on measures about to be adopted in Brussels - a practice that would never be tolerated at national level.

The Amsterdam Treaty was agreed 11 years ago (1997) and was meant to herald a new era of openness and transparency – we only got half of the loaf and have been waiting for the other half, now the Commission wants to takes away some of this.”

See: Statewatch analysis of the proposals
Full background and documentation since 1993 is on the Statewatch Observatory: FOI in the EU and see also:

- Viewpoint by Tony Bunyan: More openness or just a drop in the ocean? The need for Freedom of Information in the EU (link)

- The right to know or the right to try and find out? The need for an EU freedom of information law, by Ben Hayes (pdf)

- "Unaccountable Europe" by Tony Bunyan (link)

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