Statewatch News Online: A quick guide to the "state of play" on amending the Regulation on access to EU documents

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A quick guide to the "state of play" on amending the Regulation on access to EU documents

Feburary 2011: This Guide was put online in August 2009 - since then there has been no progress at all, there is an institutional impasse.

On 30 April 2008 the European Commission produced its: Proposed amendments: Explanatory Memorandum and Annotated text (pdf) to the Regulation 1049/2001/EC Regulation 1049/2001/EC (pdf) in operation since 2001 and ongoing. Its amendments included a controversial one to the core Article (3.1) on the definition of a "document".

The European Parliament agreed its position and put forward a number of amendments: Resolution on Commission proposals as adopted on 11 March 2009 (Rapporteur: Michael Cashman MEP, pdf). However, the parliament did not formally adopt its report as its 1st reading position. The parliament rejected the proposed definition of a "document" and put forward amendments to the Commission's proposals as well as new amendments over which it hopes to negotiate with the Commission.

The Council of the European Union (the 27 governments) started work on the Commission's proposals but following the parliament's adoption of its report (but not a formal 1st reading position) it took advice from its Legal Service.

The Council Legal Service, in simple terms, said that the parliament could amend the proposals put forward by the Commission but it could not introduce new amendments of its own accord which were not raised by the Commission. The Council has followed this advice since and only discussed what it calls "technically admissible" amendments from the parliament.

The effect of the Council's stance was to reject out-of-hand 26 amendments put forward by the parliament, see: EU doc no: 7791/09 (pdf), which sets out the Council's view (based on its Legal Service Opinion) of "admissible" and "inadmissible" amendments put forward by the parliament.

The Commission said that it would not negotiate with the parliament over its original proposals until it had adopted its 1st reading position.

The parliament countered this by getting advice from its Legal Service: European Parliament's Legal Service: Opinion on the EPs' amendments (24 April 2009, pdf) which said it could put forward new amendments - a position endorsed by a very large majority in the full plenary session just before the parliament broke up for the elections.

December 2009: European Parliament: Regulation on access to EU documents: Access to EU documents: urgent update of rules needed (Press release, pdf) and Full-text of Resolution (pdf). The Resolution was tabled by the S&D, ALDE, Greens/EFA, ECR and GUE/NGL groups and adopted today by 341 votes to 206, with 20 abstentions. Greens/EFA Shadow Rapporteur, Heidi Hautala MEP said: "if the Council and the Commission do not budge from their positions, Parliament should reject the whole proposal".

European Parliament: 12.5.10: Draft EP report (Rapporteur: MIchael Cashman MEP). Earlier Draft report (Rapporteur: MIchael Cashman MEP): Draft report on amending the Regulation (22.3.10, pdf). Statewatch Comments on this draft (pdf)

NB: The Council Working Party has spent no time this year discussing its draft position - apart from verbal report back from the Spanish Council Presidency it has no consider the Commission proposals. See: Commission statement: Explanatory note from the Commission (pdf) which says:

"If... it appears that the legislative procedure for the adoption of the Commission's recast proposal cannot be concluded within a reasonable time frame, the Commission will consider the possibility to submit a limited proposal amending the current
Regulation (EC) No 1049/2001 only with regard to the changes introduced by Article 15(3) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union."

For all the background documentation and developments see: Observatory: the Regulation on access to EU documents: 2008 - 2011

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