Madrid, 9 July 2020 – Access Info Europe has created a pro bono legal network of lawyers from across Europe with varying legal backgrounds who are willing to offer assistance to requesters seeking access to EU documents, in particular journalists and civil society organisations.
The first training of these lawyers took place on 8 June 2020, when the pro bono lawyers heard from lawyers who are leading experts in EU transparency. Onno Brouwer and Elske Raedts, addressed the main exceptions used to withhold documents at the EU level and identified key pro transparency cases from the Court of Justice of the European Union. They also discussed the importance of being strategic when deciding whether or not to go to Court with a refusal, as transparency is fragile and it is therefore important to avoid bad cases making bad laws.
Fergal Ó Regan from the European Ombudsman’s Office spoke about the work the Ombudsman does in access to documents, her powers of inspection, and the advantages of submitting a complaint to the Ombudsman over taking a case to court.
Anne Friel from Client Earth spoke of her use of strategic litigation to get access to EU documents concerning environmental matters. She discussed how more transparency is needed in how decisions are taken at the EU level as Client Earth is often denied information under the exception that disclosure would undermine the decision-making process of the EU institutions.
“EU citizens and residents have the right to access documents held by EU institutions, but journalists and civil society are not always able to get full access to the documents they request because of an over-broad use of exceptions. Access Info’s network of pro bono lawyers will help us challenge excessive use of exceptions,” explained Helen Darbishire, Executive Director of Access Info.
“This will help us in our work to increase access to information that can be used by civil society and journalists to make the EU more transparent, accountable, and participatory,” added Darbishire.
TO LEARN MORE ABOUT OUR PRO BONO LEGAL NETWORK, CLICK HERE
Access Info will hold more training sessions in the future as our pro bono network expands. If you are a lawyer who is willing to offer pro bono assistance to help us defend the right to information, get in touch.
YOU CAN WATCH THE TRAINING AGAIN, BY CLICKING HERE