MEP Michael Cashman, Group of the Party of European Socialists

MEP Cashman, author of a report on public access to EU documents, says that the European Parliament and the national Parliaments ought to keep up the political pressure to achieve progress in this area.

While stating that real progress has been made by the EU institutions as regards access to documents, your report points to several shortcomings. Do you expect any progress on problematic issues as a result of Parliament’s pressure?

I expect progress but we need to keep up the political pressure in the European Parliament and the National Parliaments.

The report also criticises the Council for refusing applications for documents on anti-terrorism measures and for ceasing to record certain meetings to avoid having to provide the tapes on request. The Council gives security reasons for not disclosing these kinds of documents. When do you think the public will have access to them?

The report refers to “public security”. It is vital that any request for documents is considered on a case by case basis. There are no blanket exemptions. As to when we will get them that will depend on their ‘sensitivity’ and reasons for refusal. I don’t know why meetings are not being taped but I trust a record of these meetings is being maintained. The Regulation [

Regulation (EC) No 1049/2001 regarding public access to European Parliament, Council and Commission documents] must not be circumvented.

The Commission is criticised for setting up several electronic registers. MEPs argue that the intention of the regulation was that a single register should be set up. Why is it important to have one single register?

A single register gives ease of access, a sort of simple point of entry and should not require any additional knowledge to use it.

According to the report, the Parliament’s committee secretariats are not providing up-to-date information about their work on their websites. Will there be an improvement in this area?

Committees of the European Parliament must improve the information they provide. The Petition Committee is a particular problem. We must not rely on good faith we need good practice. I will review this position on a regular basis.

The report calls for better cooperation between the institutions for the Regulation [

<strong>Regulation (EC) No 1049/2001 regarding public access to European Parliament, Council and Commission documents] to be amended to set up one interinstitutional register in cases where more than one institution is involved. Do you think this proposal will be taken up in the revised Regulation?

I hope that all my recommendations are taken up and incorporated in the Commission’s Review to be published by 31 January 2004. However it makes good sense to have an Interinstitutional Register and would help to create the links, which already exist between our work, for the Citizens.

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