Madrid, 14 August 2017 - On 9 August, European Commission spokesperson Mina Andreeva faced a barrage of questions from journalists about the European Commissioners’ travel expenses, after two months of detailed data was disclosed following a three-year campaign by Access Info Europe. Access Info has fact-checked some of Andreeva’s key statements. 1. “We do publish mission expenses whenever we are asked to provide information.” The European Commission has been hugely resistant to publishing this information. After a long campaign by Access Info and 120 requesters from around Europe who submitted, in total, over 200 requests, we have managed to obtain
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Ombudsman asked to investigate refusal to publish legal advice on the legal basis for EU lobby register
Madrid/Brussels, 28 July 2017 – With upcoming negotiations on reforming the state of EU lobbying transparency imminent, the legal advice given to the Commission and Council on the legal basis for lobby reform is back under the spotlight following appeals this week to the EU Ombudsman, Emily O’Reilly. Access Info Europe's and MEP Dennis de Jong's parallel complaints to the EU watchdog challenge the refusals by the two institutions to make transparent their legal advice on whether or not it’s possible under the EU Treaties to set up a mandatory EU lobby register with sanctions. “Civil society and MEPs are
Madrid, 27 July 2017 – Access Info has described as extremely regrettable that six months after 120 European citizens requested access to last year’s travel expenses of the 28 EU Commissioners, the Commission has taken a unilateral decision to disclose data just for January and February 2016, and that it will not contemplate any greater transparency. Furthermore, in response to our letter to Vice President Timmermans proposing that this data be published proactively, the Commission has concluded that it “does not see added value in publishing online the detailed travel expenses” as the cost of processing the data “would be
EU’s top court confirms that all documents held by European Commission fall under access to documents rules
Madrid, 21 July 2017 - Access Info Europe welcomed this week’s ruling from the Grand Chamber of the Court of Justice of the European Union, that the Commission cannot automatically refuse access to whole categories of documents in its possession. The Court confirmed that the EU institutions should always apply the EU’s access to documents rules to any documents they hold, regardless of the original authors. “Sometimes it’s important to confirm basic principles of this fundamental right, such as that if the Commission holds a document, it has to process a request, and there can never be automatic denials, no
Madrid, 20 June 2017 - Access Info Europe and 53 requesters from across Europe appealed to the European Ombudsman about the European Commissions’ failure to register, process, and respond to requests for the 2016 travel expenses of EU Commissioners submitted five months ago, in January 2017. The joint complaint highlights the Commission’s four major violations of the EU transparency rules: (1) the failure to even register 152 of the requests; (2) the failure to process 188 of the requests; (3) failing to respond to 51 appeals; (4) for outright refusals to process requests for President Juncker, the Vice President Timmermans,
Madrid, 15 June 2017 - Access Info Europe and six Cypriot civil society organisations  have raised concerns with the Cyprus government that the future draft access to information law would violate European standards if adopted in its current form. In particular, they warned the exceptions to transparency are seriously out of line with the Council of Europe Convention on Access to Official Documents, in spite of the government claiming to have taken this Convention “into account”. “The Cypriot government cannot claim to have taken the Convention into account as it has fundamentally misinterpreted this minimum standard,” stated Andreas Pavlou,
[Article first published on eldiario.es (in Spanish)] Helen Darbishire, Executive Director Madrid, 13 June 2017 - If the person reading this article had to place a bet, which information would you say it’s easier to access: the salaries of advisers to the ministers or the documents that guide Spanish Cabinet discussions at its traditionally secretive weekly Friday meetings? What’s certain is that talking about transparency in Spain is like buying a lottery ticket: the lack of a government transparency policy makes obtaining information feel more playing roulette than exercising a fundamental right. In fact, Access Info managed to
Madrid, 7 June 2017 – In baffling reluctance to be transparent about its own open government policies, the Spanish Government has appealed to the High Court against last month’s lower court ruling that it should provide Access Info Europe with progress reports on commitments under the Open Government Partnership (OGP). “It’s amazing that the Government is fighting so hard to keep secret information about what it’s doing to advance open government,” stated Helen Darbishire, Executive Director of Access Info Europe. The documents on what each Ministry is doing under the OGP Action Plan were first requested by Access Info Europe
Madrid/Brussels, 9 May 2017 – On Europe Day, Access Info is calling on the European Union to commit to and implement essential transparency and open government reforms to reverse the growing sense among European citizens that they are distanced from Brussels and that decisions are taken behind closed doors with little or no accountability. Access Info’s mapping, carried out with our partners, reveals that it is not possible for citizens to get information on decisions such as that to drop EU anti-corruption reports or who really negotiated the controversial EU-Turkey deal. Other transparency blackspots relate to areas of public interest,
Madrid, 4 May 2017 – In an important victory for advancing government transparency in Spain, the Madrid High Court has ruled that the Spanish Government should provide Access Info Europe with a series of documents related to its participation in the Open Government Partnership (OGP). In a particularly interesting decision in Spain’s still young and evolving jurisprudence on the right of access to information – the Transparency Law came into force in December 2014 – the Court found that for civil society to participate in decision making on open government policies, having full access to relevant information is essential. “We