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Hitting a Hundred Access to Information Laws Globally

Need for Better Data on Transparency in Practice

Paraguay_PresidentMadrid, 26 August 2014 – The civil society movement campaigning for government openness is on the point of reaching a significant landmark with the Latin American country of Paraguay awaiting presidential sign off on what will be the world's 100th access to information law. The law was passed by Paraguay's parliament on 21 August 2014.
[The picture shows Horacio Cartes, President of Paraguay, who should now sign the law].

Right to information specialist organisation Access Info Europe congratulates the global freedom of information community for achieving this milestone.

Twenty years ago, in 1994, there were just 15 access to information laws globally. The democratic transitions in Central and Eastern Europe after the fall of the Berlin wall in 1989 and subsequent democracy movements globally have given impetus to the transparency movement for securing these laws. The Open Data and Open Government movements, plus advocacy and litigation from freedom of information advocates, are helping to drive this forward.

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Open data to get your teeth into!

Access Info invites open analysis of UK FCO documents

fco_call_ukMadrid, 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.

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European Ombudsman urges proactive transparency of EU-US trade talks

TTIP_protest_in_LondonMadrid, 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.

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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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