Madrid, 13 July 2015 – Access Info Europe and the 65-member Coalición Pro Acceso have strongly criticised the draft implementing Regulation for Spain’s transparency law as a deliberate attempt by the government to further limit an already weak law and have called for it to be redrafted with urgency.
Particularly egregious features of the Regulation include inverting the public interest test so that the balance tips in favour of secrecy, and reducing further the kinds of information that can be requested.
In response to a poorly-publicised consultation on the draft, the concerns raised in the civil society submission include the total exclusion of Committee of Ministers’ (Cabinet) deliberations by reference to a 1997 law, and subjugating the transparency law to any other specific law that limits access.
The Regulation also closes the door on the possibility of making requests by email or post, permitting requests only via the transparency portal or in person. Currently requests can only be submitted by the few Spanish citizens and residents with an electronic ID or special access code that is hard to obtain.
Coming 6 months after the transparency law entered into force (and 18 months after it was originally adopted), the draft Regulation in many places fails to clarify key terms – such as precisely what is an “internal document” – but also broadens them in a way that curbs access, for example by excluding from the scope of the right to ask any documents which “contain opinions”.
“This draft regulation contains provisions that fly in the face of international standards and also which illegitimately restrict the right to information beyond the already limited provisions of the transparency law,” said Helen Darbishire, Executive Director of Access Info Europe.
The submission also points to places where the Regulation is simply badly drafted, such as the way it muddies the waters about the formats in which information can be obtained, by not making clear if the provision refers to the preferred means for delivering the information or the actual format in which the data is disclosed.
Access Info Europe noted that may of the provisions of both the Law and the Regulation run counter to the standards of the Council of Europe Convention on Access to Official Documents which has not yet been signed by Spain.
“It is particularly disappointing to see these developments given that Spain is a member of the Open Government Partnership and that the transparency law was one of the flagship commitments of its first action plan,” added Darbishire.
For more information, please contact:
Helen Darbishire | Access Info Europe
Send an email or +34 913 656 558