Madrid, 19 June 2015 – Access Info Europe this week expressed concern at the European Commission’s insistence on maintaining its obstructive requirement for all documents requesters to provide their postal addresses, after the Commission admitted in response to parliamentary questions that the policy is based on just one case of “abuse” over the past 14 years.
Answering a parliamentary question by MEP Julia Reda, the Commission cited the case of a requester who allegedly used 13 identities to submit requests, the only case they could identify since the access to documents regulation came into force in 2001. Julia Reda immediately called on the Commission to abolish the postal addresses requirement.
Access Info this week submitted the new information on the postal addresses policy to the European Ombudsman, as it is part of an ongoing complaint by Access Info Europe.
“The European Commission must recognise that this arbitrary and unnecessary policy interferes with the exercise of the right of access to EU documents,” stated Pam Bartlett Quintanilla, EU Campaigner at Access Info Europe.
In a separate response to a question by MEPs Sophie In ’t Veld and Heidi Hautala, the European Commission insisted that it will maintain the policy arguing that there are no viable alternatives to registered mail for guaranteeing the delivery of responses to documents requests.
“This is a disappointing answer from the Commission. There is no necessity to require a home address when a citizen asks for access to documents. It should be as easy as possible, but this Commission is making it more difficult than it should be. Transparency is key to Better Lawmaking, one of the priorities of this Commission. All institutions should step up their efforts to bring about a true culture of transparency. The first step should be the appointment of a Transparency Officer, as recommended by Parliament,” stated MEP Sophie In ’t Veld.
Access Info this week reiterated its call on the Commission to explore alternatives such as electronic delivery which would be speedier, permit provision of documents in electronic formats, and would cost less.
Access Info has previously attempted to find out how and why the postal addresses policy was 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”, and yet that there are no minutes of these meetings and no records were taken.
“The lack of record keeping about policy decisions like this, which affect fundamental human rights such as access to documents, is another top concern for Access Info Europe when it comes to EU transparency,” added Bartlett Quintanilla.
For more information, please contact:
Pam Bartlett Quintanilla | Access Info Europe
Send an email or +34 913 656 558