Madrid, 12 February 2015 – A Member of the European Parliament, Julia Reda (Pirate Party, Germany), has filed a Parliamentary Question calling on the European Commission to provide justifications for its policy of refusing to register access to documents requests if citizens do not provide their personal postal address.
Access Info Europe welcomes this investigation into the postal address policy, introduced on 1 April 2014, which the Commission has stated is necessary because it is “increasingly confronted with cases where applicants seem to hide behind false identities“.
Julia Reda’s Parliamentary Question notes that the new policy is placing barriers for citizens attempting to exercise their fundamental right of access to EU documents through online platforms such as AsktheEU.org. The Parliamentary Question calls on the Commission provide details of every improper request for access to documents made since 2001 and also to list which of these could have been prevented by a postal address being provided. She also asks what measures the Commission has planned to make access to documents easier in the future.
Helen Darbishire, Executive Director of Access Info Europe, stated that “Postal addresses are redundant in the information age. Furthermore, it doesn’t matter who is asking for information because this is a fundamental right which can be exercised by any European citizen.”
Access Info Europe notes that many requests, amounting to tens of thousands, have been successfully processed by the European Union since 2001 without the need for a postal address.
Access Info has an ongoing complaint before the European Ombudsman which includes a challenge to the postal address policy, read more here.
Access Info has previously attempted to find out how and why this policy was developed and adopted but a request for the background documents resulted in the Commission stating that the policy was discussed at “several meetings at working as well as senior management level“, but that there are no minutes of these meetings and no records were taken.
The AsktheEU.org website contains various examples of requests which postal address have been required and which are, prima facie, legitimate questions from interested citizens, ranging from information about the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) to questions about bans on the content of tetrachlorethylene found in groundwater. They can be found online here: http://www.asktheeu.org/en/request/list_of_requests_unanswered_due#incoming-5769
For more information, please contact:
Pam Bartlett Quintanilla | Access Info Europe
firstname.lastname@example.org +34 913 656 558