A new code on the citizens' right of access to documents in the European Union is currently being discussed by the European Commission, the Council of the European Union and the European Parliament. The three EU institutions have to agree a new code by May 2001 to meet the commitment in Article 255 of the Amsterdam Treaty to "enshrine" the right of access to documents.
In the "corridors of power" in Brussels the positions of these institutions indicate that they are heading for more secrecy and less openness. Indeed they seem more concerned with establishing rights for themselves (through so-called interinstitutional "deals") than for the citizen.
These essays have therefore been written to encourage a much wider debate throughout the whole of civil society so that its voice can be heard in a way that cannot be ignored. Access to documents in the EU is not a "gift" from on high to be packaged, sanitised and manipulated, it is a "right" which is fundamental in a democracy.
The reproduction of these essays is positively encouraged.
Tony Bunyan, Deirdre Curtin and Aidan White
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