UK promises transparency at home whilst fighting it in Brussels


Number 10 Downing Street, Transparency Portal

9 September 2011: Despite domestic efforts to open up government, the UK has taken a stance against transparency in Brussels by being party to a legal battle at the European Court of Justice which if successful would limit public access to documents about future laws.

As much as 50% of national legislation is now influenced by European Union rules. The pro-transparency organisation Access Info Europe won a case in March 2011 for access to legislative documents, but the Council of the European Union is fighting the decision in an appeal to the European Court of Justice, backed by the UK and Greece.

Access Info Europe today wrote to Prime Minister David Cameron and Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg calling on them to withdraw from a case which directly contradicts the coalition’s transparency pledges.

The UK first joined the case under the previous Labour government which argued that Access Info Europe should not have full access to documents about negotiations on reform of the EU’s transparency rules.

The double irony of the UK’s involvement in this case is that a supposedly pro-openness government is fighting against access to documents which would show its position on the reform of the EU’s transparency rules,” commented Helen Darbishire, Executive Director of Access Info Europe.

This case goes to the heart of the British public’s concerns about Brussels being unaccountable and a haven for policy laundering. By staying involved in this case, the UK is, in effect, trying to keep it that way. They need to pull out to reconcile promises at home with actions abroad,” concluded Darbishire.

Access Info Europe has called on David Cameron and Nick Clegg to withdraw the UK from this case and publicly to condemn the Council of the EU’s decision to fight against openness in Brussels.

Click here to read the letter that was sent file_pdf

For more information – in English, Spanish or French – please contact:

Pam Bartlett Quintanilla, Researcher, Access Info Europe | +34 699 354 215

Helen Darbishire, Executive Director, Access Info Europe | +34 667 685 319