Madrid, 21 August 2015 – Access Info Europe today sent recommendations on improving transparency in the EU in law and in practice to Sven Giegold MEP (Greens, Germany) rapporteur for the Initiative Report for Transparency, Integrity and Accountability in the EU institutions.
Key problems that need to be addressed urgently include ensuring that all exceptions to the right of access to documents are subject to a public interest test, and that recently-introduced artificial barriers to access such as the need to supply a postal address be removed.
Access Info’s recommendations are based on analysis of the ways the EU’s access to documents rules fall below international standards: Regulation 1049/2001 scores only 96 out of 150 on the global RTI Rating indicators putting the EU behind 33 countries, and clearly indicating that the EU is not a leader when it comes to transparency.
A particular problem identified by Access Info is the lack of both harm and public interest tests for the privacy exception, which in 2014 the European Commission used to deny access to a full 21% of refused documents, in many cases applying privacy to information about the professional activities of public officials.
“Protection of personal privacy should never be abused to deny public access to information needed to hold decision makers to account,” stated Andreas Pavlou, Campaigner at Access Info.
Access Info also concludes that there is a pressing need for increasing proactive transparency of Brussels bubble decision making and both regulating and opening up lobbying.
The EU treaties require that the legislative process be open but currently parts of it take place in secretive negotiations known as “trialogues”.
“The rules and regulations adopted by the EU lack democratic legitimacy if not adopted as part of an open and participative process where lobbyists have disproportionate access to decision makers,” said Helen Darbishire, Executive Director of Access Info.
Sven Giegold will hold an event on 3 September in Brussels on his report and launch a public consultation on the first draft. Helen Darbishire, Executive Director of Access Info Europe will be a panellist talking about access to information in the EU.
For more information please contact:
Andreas Pavlou | Access Info Europe
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