Madrid/Brussels, 5 February 2020 – Access Info Europe today condemned the removal from the European Commission website of all the previous travel expenses data of Commissioners, and has written a letter to Commissioner Vera Jourová, who is charged with Values and Transparency, calling for publication of the historical and current expenses data in an accessible, user-friendly format, in real time.
Breaching a 2017 commitment to publish Commissioners’ mission expenses data, a commitment that itself came about after a three-year campaign for transparency by the Madrid-based organisation Access Info Europe, the Commission has now archived all the previously published data to the internet archiving service Archive-It. This means that the data has been taken off the main Commission website, and is even harder to find than it previously was.
Access Info reports that the archiving system functions only sporadically, and there are days when only some or even none of the historical data can be accessed. Nevertheless, Access Info was able to capture some of the data from the very glitchy archive of the old Commission website, despite of how complicated it was.
“It’s scandalous that the data has, in effect, disappeared! The Commission has gone back on its minimal steps towards transparency, archiving information that was already buried deep inside the European Commission website, requiring multiple clicks to find it,” said Helen Darbishire, Executive Director of Access Info.
“It is not only missions expenses, but also other information about the activities of the previous Commissioners that is now inaccessible for citizens,” explained Darbishire “Transparency and accountability of the previous Commission have been quashed.”
Access Info has now published the majority of the data that was on its website, in a single excel sheet which can be downloaded.
Access Info yesterday submitted a formal access to documents request for the complete set of historical data.
Access Info researcher Alejandra Finotto, who compiled the spreadsheet, explains in this video that it took many hours of work, cutting and pasting from pages that require multiple clicks to get to and are not visible to search engines, meaning that the general public will never find them.
In its letter to Vera Jourová, Access Info calls for real time publication of all past, current and future expenditure, in a way that makes it easily accessible for citizens, with all the data gathered in one place and available for download.
For more information, please contact:
Helen Darbishire, Executive Director | Access Info Europe
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Paula Domínguez, Communications Officer | Access Info Europe
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