Madrid, 24 November 2021 – Access Info today welcomed the signature by Spain of the Council of Europe Convention on Access to Official Documents – the Tromsø Convention – fulfilling its commitment to do so under Spain’s current Open Government Partnership Action Plan.

The Tromsø Convention was signed by Spain’s Representative to the Council of Europe, Manuel Montobbio, on 23 November 2021, in the presence of Assistant Secretary General Bjorn Berge.

The commitment to sign and ratify the Tromsø Convention was secured by civil society, with active involvement of Access Info, as part of the co-creation of Spain’s IV OGP Action Plan during 2020.

Access Info is calling on the Spanish government to move swiftly with the ratification process. This will require reform of Spain’s 2013 Transparency Law, which is out of line with the Tromsø Convention, in particular as it does not apply to all information held by all public bodies, with limitations on requesting “internal communications” and on information covered by other access laws, such as access to documents held in public archives.

The top priority now is to ensure that the right of access to information applies to all information held by all public bodies, which could be done as part of the reforms being discussed under the current Open Government Action Plan,” stated Helen Darbishire, Executive Director of Access Info.

The Spanish government promised ratification of the Tromsø Convention by 31 December 2021. Regrettably, it will miss that target, but could work on law reform and ratification in parallel during 2022,” added Darbishire.

The Tromsø Convention is the world’s first binding treaty on access to information, and it came into force on 1 December 2020. It has been ratified by 11 countries, including Bosnia and Herzegovina, Estonia, Finland, Hungary, Lithuania, Montenegro, Norway, the Republic of Moldova, Sweden and Ukraine. The most recent ratification was Iceland, on 10 February 2021. A further eight countries, including now Spain, have signed the convention but not yet ratified it.

The Council of Europe has yet to establish the oversight body for the Tromsø Convention, the “Council of Europe Access Info Group”, but candidates will be considered at a meeting to take place on 29 November 2021. Once Spain has ratified the Convention, it will be required to report to the Group on the law and its implementation.

Photo Credit: Helen Darbishire, Tromsø 2012