Madrid, 22 May 2014 – The UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) has pulled out of a case before the UK’s Information Tribunal resulting in cancellation of a court hearing due this week (20-21 May) and has agreed to provide Access Info Europe with full information on negotiations in Brussels to revise the European Union’s transparency rules.
The specialised Information Tribunal issued a formal decision on 21 May 2014 closing a four-year legal process arising from an information request first made on 15 June 2010 by Access Info Europe Campaigner Pam Bartlett Quintanilla.
Just three weeks before the court hearing was due, on 1 May 2014, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office sent a message stating that “After careful consideration of the circumstances of this particular case and making no statement as to how it might act in future cases, the FCO has decided that it is prepared to withdraw its opposition to Ms Quintanilla’s appeal.”
Initially the FCO refused access to much of the requested information, which included minutes and notes taken by UK delegates at meetings in Brussels. The FCO invoked the international relations exception and protection of the formulation of government policy.
The UK Information Commissioner ruled on 17 October 2011 that the FCO should provide the majority of the requested documents but that the names of other countries could be blacked out, thus concealing the negotiating positions of the other EU Member States.