European Court of Justice rules in favour of greater transparency of the Council of the EU
Madrid/Luxembourg, 17 October 2013 — In a case brought by Access Info Europe, the European Court of Justice today rejected arguments by the Council of the European Union that it should be able to keep secret the identities of Member States making proposals in the context of negotiations on future EU legislation.
This is the final ruling – by the highest court of the EU - in an important legal battle for greater transparency of the legislative process in Brussels in line with the EU treaties which require the European Parliament and the Council to "ensure publication of the documents relating to the legislative procedures".
The Council of the EU had fought to defend its policy of releasing legislative drafting documents with the names of Member States tabling amendments blacked out.
Access Info Europe won access to the document it requested before the General Court in March 2011 but the Council appealed, joined by the Czech Republic, France, Greece, Spain and the UK.
The European Parliament, arguing in favour of openness of the legislative process, joined the case in an historic move to support Access Info Europe in its quest for wider access to documents.
The European Court of Justice today rejected the Council's arguments that it should be able to withhold information from the public in order to preserve the "effectiveness of the legislative decision-making process". The ECJ confirmed that "the mere fact that the request for disclosure was made at a very early stage in the legislative process was not sufficient to allow the application of that exception".
Main shortcomings of Spanish transparency law highlighted by Victoria Anderica in 'El Objetivo'
Madrid, 14 October 2013 - "The law does not recognise access to information as a fundamental right,...a lot of information is left out,...and the oversight body is not independent". These three serious shortcomings of the Spanish transparency law were highlighted by Victoria Anderica of Access Info Europe on the prime time Spanish TV programme El Objetivo.
In the programme, broadcast on Sunday 13 October, Victoria acknowledged that the law will help to improve the current situation in Spain, by permitting a wider transparency of public accounts.
However the shortcomings in the new legislation as it stands mean that Spain will still rank 72th out of a total of 96 countries with access to information laws. For example, the Congress and Senate are not made completely transparent under the law. "Institutions are not equally covered under the law. In the case of these two, they will only need to publish information linked to administrative tasks, leaving out information that is fundamental in understanding how decisions are being taken on laws that are being developed in these institutions" commented Victoria Anderica.
Last phase of campaigning to improve Spain's weak transparency law: Calls on Senators to act
Madrid, 4 October 2013 – With Spain's future transparency law open for amendments in the Senate until 8 October, Access Info has launched a last campaign for improvements. The goal is to strengthen the law's score of 68 out of 150 on the RTI Rating, and a future position number 75 out of 96 laws globally.
European Elections 2014: Transparency must be a priority, MEPs told
Madrid, 2 October 2013 – In the run up to the European Parliament elections in May 2014, Access Info has today written to all 766 Members of the European Parliament informing them of opinion poll findings which show huge support for transparency in the areas such as the financial crisis and lobbying by business.
Over 80 % of the public wants greater transparency in areas such as Council decision-making, legal opinions on future laws, and spending of EU funds.
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