Update on the donations from the 3000 euro campaign
Access Info Europe organised a crowdsurfing campaign on January 11, 2013 to raise the 3,000 euros it has been ordered to pay in costs by the Supreme Court. This is for a case that Access Info began in 2007 to claim the right to know about what Spain is doing to implement anti-corruption measures (see the details of the case here).
During the campaign, Access Info surpassed all expectations and managed to raise a total of €10630,84.
221 people gave donations via bank transfer and 490 persons made their donations via Paypal. In total, the donations of 711 people made it posible for Access Info to proceed with its case. The donated amounts were from €1 to €276, with the average donation per person being €14,95.
EU Transparency on Trial
Luxembourg, 21 February 2013 – At a public hearing before the Court of Justice of the European Union in Luxembourg on Thursday 21 February 2013, the Council of the European Union argued that secrecy about the positions of different Member States is necessary for its “effectiveness”.
Specifically, the Council defended withholding from Access Info Europe in 2008 the names of Member States in a document which contained proposals to revise the EU's access to documents rules in a way which would limit EU transparency.
The hearing was held to consider the appeal by the Council against a March 2011 decision by the General Court (first instance court) which ruled that Access Info should have access to the document ; a ruling in the case is expected in mid-2013.
Arguments centred on whether the public can know which Member State is proposing what during ongoing legislative processes, or whether transparency of this nature would seriously undermine the Council's decision-making process.
The Council is supported in this case by the Czech Republic, Greece, France and Spain; the United Kingdom which is also party to the case did not make either a written or an oral intervention.
Litigation by Access Info Europe against Spain’s Ministry of Justice - Request for information about anti-corruption measures
Overview: Supreme Court denies right of access to information
Access Info Europe requested from Spain’s Ministry of Justice information about what it had done to implement the UN Convention against Corruption and the OECD Anti-bribery Convention. The information request containing a series of specific questions was presented on 14 June 2007. The request was never answered.
After a drawn-out legal process lasting five years, the Supreme Court ruled on 22 May 2012 that there was no violation of Access Info Europe’s right of access to information. Access Info Europe had argued that the right is protected by the right to freedom of expression as recognised in international jurisprudence (European Court of Human Rights, Inter-American Court of Human Rights, UN Human Rights Committee). Access Info Europe also argued that the information was needed to participate in decision making and so essential for enjoyment of that right recognised in the Spanish Constitution.
The main argument deployed by the Supreme Court to reject the appeal is that Access Info Europe’s request to be informed about the specific measures taken to implement anti-corruption conventions signed by Spain, was not in fact an information request but was a request for “explanations” from the government. In taking this course, the Supreme Court evaded addressing the substance of the arguments about international law and jurisprudence that Access Info Europe had put forward.
Access Info Europe is being required to pay €3000 (approx $3650) in legal fees to the Spanish government; money which must be paid by September 2012.
Access Info Europe has in the meantime appealed to the Constitutional Court on the violation of the right of access to information; this appeal does not suspend the need to pay the legal costs.