European Union Principles on Access to Parliament, Council and Commission Documents


The European Union’s equivalent of an access to information law has the formal title of Regulation No 1049/2001 regarding Public Access to European Parliament, Council and Commission Documents (henceforth, Regulation 1049/2001). It grants members of the public and legal entities the right to access documents held, transmitted or received by the EU institutions.

Regulation 1049/2001 states that:

“Openness enables citizens to participate more closely in the decision-making process and guarantees that the administration enjoys greater legitimacy and is more effective and more accountable to the citizen in a democratic system. Openness contributes to strengthening the principles of democracy and respect for fundamental rights as laid down in Article 6 of the EUTreaty and in the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union.”

“Wider access should be granted to documents in cases where the institutions are acting in their legislative capacity, including under delegated powers, while at the same time preserving the effectiveness of the institutions’ decision-making process. Such documents should be made directly accessible to the greatest possible extent.”

• Anyone can make requests for documents in the European Union

• Requests shall be made in written form, and can also be submitted electronically. It can be made in any of the 20 official European Union languages

• The institution has 15 days to answer your acccess to information request, with the possibility of extending this another 15 days in the case of a complex request

• Documents shall be provided free of charge if they are less than 20 pages or in electronic format. If a charge is incurred, it will never be more than the actual costs of reproducing the documents.

• If you are unsatisfied with the outcome of your access to documents request, you can ask the institution to reconsider. This is called a Confirmatory Application. If this fails, go to the European Ombudsman.

Click here to download a copy of Regulation 1049/2001.

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