Madrid, 14 September 2016 – Access Info Europe has welcomed the decision by the European Commission not to repeat August’s automatic “out-of-office” style message warning requesters that there might be delays in processing their requests due to the summer holidays.
This decision came after Access Info’s Executive Director Helen Darbishire sent a letter to the Commission on 1 September 2016 expressing concerns about the automatic response, which read “Due to the holiday period in August, some delays may occur in the treatment of your access-to-documents request.”
In a rapid reply sent on 7 September 2016, the head of the EU’s Transparency Unit, Martin Kröger, noted that the response had been intended “to ensure maximum transparency” but conceded that it could have “led to misunderstandings” about the Commission’s serious commitment to treatment of access to documents requests.
Access Info also welcomed this opportunity to have a discussion with the European Commission about the time frames for processing requests, noting in its response that there are often serious delays at other times of the year as well, both with initial requests and appeals (“confirmatory applications” in EU jargon).
In a letter sent on 9 September 2016, Helen Darbishire asked whether the Commission had conducted an analysis of the volumes of requests by month, and whether timeframes vary over the course of the year, an analysis that might help in the allocation of resources to ensure that requests are answered within the 15 working day time limit permitted under the EU’s access to documents rules (Regulation 1049/2001).
“Public access to EU documents is a fundamental right under the EU treaties,” commented Darbishire, “as such the European institutions have an obligation to ensure that requests are processed ‘promptly’, with 15 working days being the absolute maximum.”
For more information please contact:
Helen Darbishire | Access Info Europe
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