Transparency in the European Union
Access Info is working towards a more transparent EU by promoting stronger rules for access to documents and ensuring that existing rules are properly applied. We provide training on how to request information from the EU, campaign for greater transparency and, when necessary, litigate to get access to information. We also manage www.AsktheEU.org, an online platform for making access to documents requests to the European Union.
European Union Regulation 1049/2001
Access Info and the European Union
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New Features Launched on Redesigned AsktheEU.org
Three New Transparency Campaigns Focus on the Demand for More Access to EU Documents
Madrid, 29 September 2014 – Access Info Europe has launched a new version of the request platform AsktheEU.org, which now includes special features to help civil society organisations campaign to get access to EU documents, in celebration of International Right to Know Day on 28 September.
The features include campaigns pages that civil society groups can use to highlight areas of lack of transparency and to advocate for access to particular EU documents related to issues they are working on.
Looking for Leadership on Transparency in Europe
Madrid, 28 September 2014 – On the occasion of International Right to Know Day, Helen Darbishire, Executive Director of Access Info Europe, argues that the European Union should be taking a strong lead on transparency standards across the 28 country region of 500 million inhabitants.
With 751 new members of the European Parliament getting settled into their offices in Brussels, and with the new European Commission – the ministers of the Union – about to be appointed, civil society is demanding a strong transparency agenda in which the EU takes the lead and sets standards to be followed by all its 28 Member States.
In September 2014, the world reached the significant landmark of 100 access to information laws, with the adoption of a transparency law in Paraguay. The EU as the world’s only supra-national body also has an access law – the rather inelegantly named Regulation 1049/2001 on access to documents. This regulation ranks alongside the better national laws, positioned at around 25 from the top of the 100, so just in with the 25% top laws.
The quality of the law, however, is never the whole story. Sweden, with the world’s first access to information law, adopted in 1766 and so just shy of its 250th Birthday, ranks at position 41, but the country has a strong culture of transparency and all research shows very high and rapid response rates, both to Swedish requesters and those from around the world. The other Nordic countries of Finland and Norway are also generally good at putting transparency into practice, having strongly-developed cultures of open government.
European Ombudsman consultation on EU expert groups creates hope for reform
Madrid, 5 September 2014 – Proactive transparency would help address the problem of business-domination of European Commission expert groups Access Info Europe concluded this week in its submission to the EU Ombudsman public consultation on expert groups.
The European Ombudsman's consultation came in response to a series of concerns raised by civil society, including the Alliance for Lobby Transparency and Ethics Regulation (ALTER-EU) of which Access Info Europe is a Steering Committee member, about the overrepresentation of business lobbyists in expert groups.
In its submission, right to information experts Access Info highlighted the need for greater proactive transparency to permit the public to verify whether expert groups have a balanced composition representative of all relevant stakeholders. Information which should be made public should include the applications and declarations of participants, records of meetings, and copies of relevant documents.
Open data to get your teeth into!
Access Info invites open analysis of UK FCO documents
Madrid, 4 August 2014 – Access Info Europe called for fellow freedom of information activists to help analyse and discover the information and data held in the tens of UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office documents on negotiations in Brussels to revise the European Union's transparency law, in a crowdsourcing initiative launched today.
Download the documents here!
These documents, obtained as a result of a four-year legal battle, are a unprecedented insight into the debate around the right of access to EU documents that has been going on since 2008, and could prove which EU countries are, and are not, transparency champions.
Dive into the data and help shed some light on the relations between the EU and Member States and the so-called "policy-laundering" phenomenon, whereby citizens are told the EU is to blame for certain decisions which actually involve full and proactive Member State representatives' participation.
European Ombudsman urges proactive transparency of EU-US trade talks
Madrid, 31 July 2014 – Access Info Europe today welcomed the decision by the European Ombudsman to call for more proactive disclosure of documents to stakeholders surrounding the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) negotiations, and to open investigations into the Council of the EU and EU Commission’s lack of transparency around these talks.
Ombudsman Emily O’Reilly has offered a range of practical measures to enable timely public access to TTIP documents, and to details of meetings with stakeholders. Referring to the pro-transparency jurisprudence established by Access Info’s case against the Council (won in October 2013) as well as by the July 2013 ruling in the case of In ‘t Veld against the European Commission, the Ombudsman questioned the assertion of public harm in the disclosure of the EU negotiating directives for the on-going negotiations.
The In ‘t Veld Ruling: Raising the Bar for Denying Access to EU Documents
Madrid, 25 July 2014 - Helen Darbishire and Pamela Bartlett of Access Info Europe analyse the wider consequences of the recent European Court of Justice ruling, which will make it harder to deny access to EU documents relating to international relations or to containing legal advice.
The 3 July 2014 pro-transparency ruling by the European Court of Justice in the legal battle for access to negotiations between the European Union and the United States on sharing financial transaction data in order to fight terrorism, will make it harder for the EU to deny access to documents relating to international relations and legal advice, according to a leaked document seen by Access Info Europe.
In the document, drafted in response the court victory by Dutch MEP Sophie in 't Veld, the General Secretariat of the Council concludes that "it is becoming increasingly difficult to demonstrate that disclosure of a specific document would 'specifically and actually' undermine an interest protected by an exception in Article 4 of Regulation 1049/2001."
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