Access to EU documents to worsen?

Civil society speakers at Statewatch seminar on access to documents claim new proposals from Brussels institutions will worsen transparency

At a seminar in Brussels on 27 February organised by civil liberties organisation Statewatch, NGO representatives claimed that the existing system of access to the documents of EU institutions is better than the new proposals currently under discussion. As the 1 May deadline for a revised code of access laid down by article 255 of the Amsterdam Treaty approaches, citizens could be left with rules that lead to a reduction in transparency in the EU instead of the originally intended increase.

Mr Olle Ambrahamsson of the Swedish Justice Ministry emphasised the commitment of the Swedish Presidency to meeting the 1 May deadline. Tony Bunyan of Statewatch felt that this deadline was not achievable if an improved code was to be introduced. He said that if the proposals currently under discussion were to be adopted they would "undermine the current code of access and have no legitimacy in the European Union."

Concern was also expressed that despite the European Parliament's efforts to meet the deadline, its own proposed changes were also worse than the current system. In addition, one MEP expressed worries about a possible conflict of interest between the EP's own desire to have access to classified documents and the larger issue of the citizen's right of access.

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