Madrid/Brussels, 15 April 2015 – Two prominent defenders of EU transparency, MEPs Sophie In ’t Veld (Netherlands, Liberal) and Heidi Hautala (Finland, Greens), yesterday tabled a joint Parliamentary question calling on the European Commission to explain its policy of refusing to register access to documents requests if requesters do not provide a personal postal address as a form of identification.

Access Info Europe welcomed the move by the MEPs, noting that the Commission has still not responded to an earlier question tabled by MEP Julia Reda (Germany, Pirate Party) on 27 January 2015, despite the 6-week deadline stipulated in the European Parliament’s Rules of Procedure.

In the joint Parliamentary Question the MEPS ask why the 1 April 2014 European Commission policy of demanding postal addresses from requesters is necessary: “Why does the Commission require a postal address, which is personal data, of citizens when this is not strictly necessary for the processing of the request and the communication with the data subject?”

MEP’s question European Commission postal address policy for access to documents requesters asking:

Will the Commission stop this practice as of once?
If not, why not?

In line with the position taken by Access Info Europe, both MEPs contend that the new policy is contrary to the principles of openness that are established in the EU Treaties and reflected in the EU’s access to documents regulation. The MEPs question whether the new policy is in line with the right to personal privacy, which stipulates that “personal data must be adequate, relevant and not excessive in relation to the purposes for which they are collected and/or further processed”.

Access Info Europe notes that the European Data Protection Superviser has found that from the perspective of the EU’s data protection Regulation the collection of the postal address is not excessive. Access Info Europe contends, however, that it is disproportionate from the perspective of the right of access to documents enshrined in the EU treaties. It also constitutes an unnecessary interference with the exercise of the right of access to information, which is an integral part of the fundamental right of freedom of expression, according to bodies such as the UN Human Rights Committee and the European Court of Human Rights.

The European Commission now has six weeks to respond to the Parliamentary Question in writing.

The Question is available here: word_icon

For more information, please contact:

Pam Bartlett Quintanilla, Access Info Europe | +34 699 354 215 or +34 91 365 6558