Annual report still critical of access to documents policy

On 9 July, Michael Cashman (PES-UK), will present its own-initiative report on access to documents to the Parliament’s Committee on Citizens’ Freedoms and Rights, Justice and Home Affairs.

On 9 July, members of the Parliament’s Committee on Citizens’ Freedoms and Rights, Justice and Home Affairs will discuss the own-initiative report drafted by MEP Michael Cashman (PSE-UK) on the implementation of this regulation on access to documents.

While congratulating the institutions and their staff for the progress accomplished, Michael Cashman highlights numerous areas where work still needs to be done:

  • European Council documents should also be covered by the regulation;
  • documents under comitology proceedings should be accessible;
  • the Council should permit the identification of the positions of the various national delegations at the time of the decision-making process;
  • the Council should provide access to legal opinions;
  • the Council should stop using the classification “limited”, “restricted” documents and should make these documents directly accessible;
  • one interinstitutional register should be set up;
  • the Commission should set up one single electronic register;
  • reasons for refusal to access documents should be precise.

The MEP also criticises the European Convention for not applying the principles set in the regulation, qualifying this behaviour as “deplorable”.

 

The regulation regarding public access to European Parliament, Council and Commission documents, adopted on 30 May 2001, grants a right of access to documents of the three institutions to any Union citizen and to any natural or legal person residing, or having its registered office, in a Member State. The definition of a "document" is a broad one and no category of document is excluded a priori from the right of access, including classified documents.

It has helped to increase transparency in the European Union, by making it easier to search for and request specific documents. But the accessibility of the requested documents has not increased correspondingly.

 

By 31 January 2004, the Commission will publish a report on the implementation of this Regulation and, if appropriate, make proposals for the revision of this Regulation and an action programme of measures to be taken by the institutions.

 

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