Council decision undermines new code of access

Statewatch says Council changes to 1993 Decision on document access undermine discussions on new code of access

Changes to the 1993 Decision on access to documents adopted by the Council on 19 March have been criticised for undermining ongoing negotiations over a new code of access. Tony Bunyan of Statewatch said: "The Council has used the 'space' left before a new code is adopted - whenever that will be - to protect the interests of governments and NATO over the citizens' right to know."

Statewatch's criticism stems from the fact that the same change that should allow the public access to more Council documents will also give Member States the power to veto this access. A second change will extend the restrictive document classification code, introduced by the so-called 'Solana Decision' in July 2000, to all EU policy areas.

Article 255 of the Amsterdam Treaty gives 1 May 2001 as the deadline for the introduction of a code of access to the documents of the EU institutions. As the deadline approaches, talks between the Council, Commission and Parliament appear to be deadlocked.

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