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European Court of Justice ruling entrenches EU secrecy in international relations

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Madrid, 7 June 2013 - Access Info Europe notes with regret today's ruling by the General Court of the European Court of Justice which upholds the European Commission's refusal to make public documents about the EU-India Free Trade Agreement requested by the lobby watchdog Corporate Europe Observatory.

The central question in the case Corporate Europe Observatory v European Commission revolves around whether or not dissemination of minutes of meetings and email correspondence would harm the EU's international relations. The Court's ruling is particularly regrettable given that these documents had been shared with representatives of the European and Indian business communities for consultation. Germany joined the case in support of the European Commission.

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Bosnia and Herzegovina: Proposed FOI Law reforms would limit access to much information of public importance.

Access Info joins OSCE in calling for withdrawal of amendments

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Madrid, 4 June 2013 – Access Info Europe today raised concerns that proposed amendments to the Law on Freedom of Access to Information of Bosnia and Herzegovina would exclude large volumes of information from the right of access to information.

In separating the freedom of information law from the law on personal data protection, the proposed amendments, in particular Article 8.2, introduce restrictions on access to data of clear public interest, such as spending of public funds on healthcare, or copies of court decisions.

The poorly drafted and ill-considered amendments would shut down access to information needed for monitoring public spending and the administration of justice, would limit the work of civil society organisations, and would hamper investigations by journalists,” said Helen Darbishire, Executive Director of Access Info Europe.

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Regulation of Lobbying in Spain – Statement by Access Info Europe

foto_lobbyMadrid, 2 June 2013 - Today the Spanish daily El País published an article revealing the government's plans for future lobby regulation in Spain. The main highlights include the creation of an obligatory register of interest representatives, applicable to all those who undertake lobbying activities via-a-vis the upper and lower houses of Parliament. The article also outlines a series of ethics reforms such as the publication of declarations of interest by senior officials or stricter controls over conflicts of interest.

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Focus on Access to Information Laws essential for implementation of UN Convention against Corruption 

Lydia_Medland_UNCACVienna, 29 May 2013 – Access Info Europe today called on States Parties to the UN Convention against Corruption (UNCAC) to make strong mechanisms for access to information a priority issue. The right of access to information is a key tool for the prevention of corruption, yet there is no mention of it in the work plan of the UNCAC’s Working Group on Corruption Prevention.

 Speaking at the UN Convention against Corruption Briefing for NGOs today, Lydia Medland of Access Info said, "To fight corruption, citizens and civil society organisations need effective access to information laws which not only oblige governments to publish information proactively but which also give citizens the right to request and receive information held by public bodies."

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