Court rules against the Council in “Hautala case” on access to documents

The Court of Justice decided to uphold the judgment of the Court of First Instance annulling the Council’s decision to refuse Ms Heidi Hautala, an MEP, access to a report on arms exports. The Court of Justice pointed out that the public must have the widest possible access to documents and agreed with the judgement of the Court of First Instance, which said that the Council should consider partial access to a document containing items of information whose disclosure would endanger EU interests.

Ms Heidi Hautala was refused access by the Council to a report on conventional arms exports in 1997, on the ground that it contained sensitive information, disclosure of which would harm the European Union's relations with non-member countries (referring to Decision 93/731/EC).

On 19 July 1999, the Court of First Instance annulled the Council's decision, on the ground that the Council should have considered the possibility of partial access to documents. The Council, supported by Spain, appealed against the judgment, but the Court of Justice dismissed its appeal. Ms Hautala is supported by Denmark, Finland and the UK.


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