EU: ACCESS TO EU DOCUMENTS REGULATION: Council of the European Union puts off moving to an open EU yet again

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See: Proposal for a Regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council regarding public access to European Parliament, Council and Commission documents - State of play (pdf)

After nearly five years of stalemate, an "institutional impasse", the Council of the European Union (EU Member State governments) proposed that Regulation 1049/2001 on public access to EU institution documents should be amended but limited to modifying it to "take into account the provisions of the Lisbon Treaty". This is a reference to the Commission proposal of 2008 which only makes one change - to extend the Regulation to cover EU agencies.

The Commission proposal ignores the obligation to implement Article 15 of the Lisbon Treaty which states that the Council and the European Parliament shall publish "documents relating to the legislative procedures" which would require the removal of Article 4.3 of the Regulation that allows the Council to refuse access where disclosure could "seriously undermine the institutions decision-making process, unless there is an overriding public interest in disclosure". The Council never agree to release a document on public interest grounds and 40.9% of all initial applications are refused under Article 4.3 plus part of 25.3% of refusals for "several reasons together" (2012 Annual Report).

See: Proposed Commission changes to Regulation on access to documents fail to meet Lisbon Treaty commitments and Secret trilogues and the democratic deficit by Tony Bunyan

Tony Bunyan, Statewatch Director, comments:

"The European Parliament's rapporteur, Michael Cashman MEP, is quite right to ask the Council, as a minimum, to commit itself to "new arrangements for granting access to documents" and putting documents online.

The failure of the Commission to propose, and the Council to support, the full implementation of the Lisbon Treaty by making documents related to the legislative procedure public as they are produced means we have secret documents being discussed in secret trilogues - a process that excludes national parliaments, citizens and civil society. This makes a travesty of democratic accountability."

Statewatch's Observatory: The Regulation on access to EU documents: 2008-ongoing

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