Civil society demands a more transparent EU lobby register
Madrid/Brussels, 23 July 2012 – Civil society organisations are fast making their opinions known on the EU's one-year-old transparency register, calling for improvements to the information disclosed by interest groups so that citizens are able to identify who is lobbying the EU for what, and with what levels of success.
The EU's transparency register was launched last year, after the European Parliament and the Commission decided to create a single register of lobbyists for the two institutions. However, ALTER-EU and other pro-transparency campaigners have criticised the register for failing to provide accurate, up-to-date and easily comparable information to the citizens of the EU.
The Commission launched a public consultation on the register on 8 June this year with a view to including civil society's recommendations in the annual report on the functioning of the register, due to be launched after the summer. The consultation will run through to Friday 31 August 2012.
Denmark drops reform of EU access to documents rules as disagreements prove insurmountable
20 June 2012 - The Danish Presidency of the Council of the EU yesterday gave up on trying to reach an agreement between the European Commission, the Parliament and the Member States on reform of the rules that govern public access to EU documents.
With the European Parliament standing firmly in favour of greater transparency for citizens, and the European Commission pressing for amendments to the Regulation that would exclude entire classes of information or narrow the definition of a document, the agreement hinged on an agreement between the 27 Member States meeting in the Council.
But divisions between the Member States were so acute that the Danish Presidency has abandoned the file after six months of intense negotiations. The public is not allowed access to the positions of each individual Member State in the Council (a practice being challenged by Access Info Europe before the European Court of Justice), but government and Council sources involved in the negotiations report that a majority of Member States – particularly large countries including France and Germany – either support the Commission's approach or have been proposing further transparency-reducing amendments.
OSCE says changes to Spain’s draft transparency law insufficient
18 June 2012 — In its second evaluation of Spain’s draft access to information law, the OSCE has concluded that in spite of the changes the draft remains well below international standards.
The report, released by the Office of the Representative on Freedom of the Media, Dunja Mijatovic, analyses the changes made by the Spanish government in May and concludes that “the majority of the changes are ‘cosmetic’ and, in general, do nto contribute to improving the draft compared with the previous version.”
Last window of hope for EU transparency talks still open:
Danish Presidency urged to broker agreement
16 June 2012, Brussels/Madrid – With inside EU sources indicating that the Council and the European Parliament are still ready to make a deal on limited but essential reforms to EU access to documents rules, NGO Access Info Europe today called on the Danish Presidency to make an urgent last minute push to reach an agreement.
Access Info Europe understands that the Council of the EU could be ready to agree with the European Parliament on a limited package of reforms, thereby ensuring that the EU’s access to documents rules are in line with the EU treaties post Lisbon.
Although the Parliament has been holding out for broader strengthening of the access to documents regulation (Regulation 1049) it now seems that they could be ready to secure the more limited changes. Access Info Europe is supportive of a narrower set of reforms, arguing that some positive changes would be a significant victory at this stage, providing that the reform package rejects the expansion of the exceptions whithe Commission has been pushing for since 2008.
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