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International Right To Know Day 2014: Working to promote transparency

irtkd_poster_2Madrid, 28 September 2014 – Civil society, led by the Freedom of Information Advocates Network (FOIAnet), is organising events on every continent for International Right to Know Day 2014 on 28 September, from activist and citizen workshops, to conferences on access to information laws, media broadcasts, and award ceremonies.

Freedom of information organisations and activists from all around the world will be raising awareness of every individual’s right of access to information held by governments and public bodies.

Access Info Europe is also taking action to join the series of International Right to Know Day 2014 events:

» Following Access Info Europe’s participation in the EU Roadmap to Transparency event on improving transparency and access to documents in the EU, organised by MEP Sophie In ’t Veld in the European Parliament in Brussels, Helen Darbishire, Executive Director of Access Info Europe, argues that the European Union should be taking a strong lead on transparency standards across the 28 country region of 500 million inhabitants. Read more...

» Access Info Europe has appealed to the Spanish Government for a more open and participative implementation process of the Spanish Transparency Law. The letter to Spain’s State Secretary José Luis Ayllón outlines a series of recommendations for the formation of the Transparency Council before the law comes into force this December. Read more...

» Access Info Europe will launch the new AsktheEU.org website; including the new widget feature and campaign pages to promote the public interest in information requested through the website, as well as a video for civil society organisations explaining how to use AsktheEU.org. Read more...

All the information about the International Right to Know Day is available at the FOIAnet website including a map with events. The activities taking place will also be reported through social media, such as Twitter and Facebook with the hashtag #IRTKD2014. See this pamphlet and be inspired by what can you do to celebrate!

 
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Looking for Leadership on Transparency in Europe

helen_europarl_roadmaptranspMadrid, 28 September 2014 – On the occasion of International Right to Know Day, Helen Darbishire, Executive Director of Access Info Europe, argues that the European Union should be taking a strong lead on transparency standards across the 28 country region of 500 million inhabitants.

With 751 new members of the European Parliament getting settled into their offices in Brussels, and with the new European Commission – the ministers of the Union – about to be appointed, civil society is demanding a strong transparency agenda in which the EU takes the lead and sets standards to be followed by all its 28 Member States.

In September 2014, the world reached the significant landmark of 100 access to information laws, with the adoption of a transparency law in Paraguay. The EU as the world’s only supra-national body also has an access law – the rather inelegantly named Regulation 1049/2001 on access to documents. This regulation ranks alongside the better national laws, positioned at around 25 from the top of the 100, so just in with the 25% top laws.

The quality of the law, however, is never the whole story. Sweden, with the world’s first access to information law, adopted in 1766 and so just shy of its 250th Birthday, ranks at position 41, but the country has a strong culture of transparency and all research shows very high and rapid response rates, both to Swedish requesters and those from around the world. The other Nordic countries of Finland and Norway are also generally good at putting transparency into practice, having strongly-developed cultures of open government.

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New Features Launched on Redesigned AsktheEU.org

Three New Transparency Campaigns Focus on the Demand for More Access to EU Documents

widget_asktheeuMadrid, 29 September 2014 – Access Info Europe has launched a new version of the request platform AsktheEU.org, which now includes special features to help civil society organisations campaign to get access to EU documents, in celebration of International Right to Know Day on 28 September.

The features include campaigns pages that civil society groups can use to highlight areas of lack of transparency and to advocate for access to particular EU documents related to issues they are working on.

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Spain: Three months to transparency

calendar_Madrid, 9 September 2014 - Spain's Transparency Law will enter into force in three months, on 10 December 2014, but to date the Spanish Government has not made public any information about how the new law will be implemented nor how the Transparency Council will be appointed.

Access Info Europe and Fundación Ciudadana Civio have yet to receive a reply to a letter sent on 20 August 2014 asking Spanish State Secretary José Luis Ayllón Manso to clarify the status of preparations for implementation of the law.

The Spanish government should do the following before the law comes into effect on 10 December 2014:

» Pass the Royal Decree approving the organic Statute for the Transparency and Good Governance Council: According to the law, approved in December 2013, this should have been done by March 2014. This Decree is important as it should set out, among other issues, the modalities for appointing the president of the Transparency Council. Civil society is concerned about the independence of the body and the rules which will determine how it functions.

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