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Transparency in the European Union

Access Info is working towards a more transparent EU by promoting stronger rules for access to documents and ensuring that existing rules are properly applied. We provide training on how to request information from the EU, campaign for greater transparency and, when necessary, litigate to get access to information. We also manage www.AsktheEU.org, an online platform for making access to documents requests to the European Union.

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European Union Regulation 1049/2001

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The In ‘t Veld Ruling: Raising the Bar for Denying Access to EU Documents

Madrid, Friday 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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Civil society call on the EU institutions to join the Open Government Partnership

euogppicMadrid, Wednesday 16 July - Access Info Europe has joined over 50 other signatories, including networks and coalitions, calling upon the European Union to closely engage and eventually join the Open Government Partnership (OGP) initative.

The letter sent earlier this month asks the EU to commit to uphold the same inclusion, transparency and accountability standards that they ask of others both inside and outside the Union. It will help bridge the gap between the EU and its citizens, and enhance the EU’s credibility in its international efforts to improve the quality of governance in third countries by empowering citizens through participation.

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European Commission attempting to block citizens' requests via AsktheEU.org

postmanMadrid, 2 June 2014 – The European Commission is impeding the public's right to submit access to documents requests via the AsktheEU.org web portal by refusing to register requests which are not accompanied by a postal address.

AsktheEU.org, which is run by Access Info Europe, was launched in September 2011 with the aim of making the requesting process more transparent. It is set up to work via email, with requests and responses published online in real time. Hence it does not currently have the capacity to deliver postal addresses without making them public.

The Commission in early May started to send messages to requesters stating that postal address are "required for registering and handling your request in line with the procedural requirements," even though it makes no mention of where such requirements are written down. The Commission message goes on to state that "Pending your reply, we reserve the right to refuse the registration of your request."

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Politics for People Campaign: Now is time for new MEPs to tackle Corporate Lobbying

elected_meps_spain2Brussels, Madrid, Cologne, 30 May 2014 – Civil society groups from across Europe this week called on newly elected Members of the European Parliament to make an urgent priority of tackling the problem of corporate lobbying in the next parliamentary term.

The call by members of the Alliance for Lobby Transparency and Ethics Regulation (ALTER_EU), of which Access Info Europe is a Steering Committee member, went out to all 751 new MEPs and in particular to the 174 who signed a pre-election pledge under the Politics for People campaign to ‘’stand-up for citizens and democracy against the excessive lobbying influence of banks and big business.”[1]

The Politics for People pledge campaign [2] was one of the most successful civil society pledge campaigns around the 2014 European parliamentary elections, being signed by a total of 1338 candidates. The picture shows the 13 Spanish MEPs who signed the pledge and were elected.

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One third of new Spanish MEPs have committed to increasing transparency and controlling lobbying in Brussels

Madrid, 26 May 2014 – One third (31%) of the newly-elected Spanish MEPs have already committed to promoting transparency and regulating lobbying in Brussels, the result of a pre-election pledge campaign run in Spain by Access Info Europe.

In advance of the elections, 130 of the MEP candidates signed a pledge to "stand up for citizens and democracy against the excessive lobbying influence of banks and big business." 13 of the 130 have been formally elected, and a further 4 new MEPs did not officially sign the pledge but had lobbying regulation and transparency in their election manifesto, and supported the campaign including by joining the event organised.

Elected Candidates Who Signed the Politics for People Pledge, by Party:

  › PSOE (Socialist Party): 6
  › Izquierda Unida (United Left): 5
  › L'Esquerra pel Dret a Decidir (Left for the Right to Decide): 1
  › Primavera Europea (European Spring): 1
  › Union Progreso y Democracia (Union, Progress and Democracy, who did not officially sign the pledge but had lobbying regulation and transparency in their election manifesto, and supported the campaign including by joining the event organised): 4

"The need for stronger control of lobbying and increased transparency of European Union institutions are priorities for the new MEPs from Spain, a country which has been badly hit by the financial crisis," said Helen Darbishire, Executive Director of Access Info Europe.

In the pre-election period, over 1100 MEP candidates from 19 European countries signed the plegde: you can check who commited at www.politicsforpeople.eu.

   
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Civil society calls for full transparency about EU-US trade negotiations

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Madrid, 26 May 2014 – More than 250 civil society organisations worldwide, including Access Info Europe, today called on the European Commission to make the negotiations on the future Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) open and transparent.

The TTIP is the biggest bilateral trade agreement ever negotiated and it will have significant effects on the economy, the environment and the future of citizens on both sides of the Atlantic and beyond. There is a clear public interest in being able to follow these negotiations, and yet, since they started, they have taken place behind a veil of secrecy, with the public denied access to details of the proposals.

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