Madrid, 1 June 2020 – Pro-transparency human rights organisation Access Info Europe is glad to launch AsktheEU Pro, an improved version of the AsktheEU.org account designed to upgrade journalists and researchers’ experience when requesting access to documents from the EU bodies and institutions.

The new advanced functionalities of the platform include the possibility for Pro users to keep requests and responses private for 3, 6 or 12 months’ periods, which can be extended for an unlimited number of times. Access Info believes that this will help journalists and researchers wishing to keep their stories or investigations confidential before they are ready to make them public.

“Journalists play a central role in shaping public opinion as well as in engaging citizens in public affairs, but face constant challenges in accessing information from public bodies,” stated Helen Darbishire, Executive Director of Access Info Europe. “Our goal with AsktheEU Pro is to serve journalists in their role as public watchdogs of our democracies, by making it easier for them to follow and have a say in what is going on at the European Union level, and in the decisions that have a direct impact on European citizens’ lives.”

“The right of access to information and transparency have become crucial tools in a context of spreading of fake news, increasing populism and citizens’ distrust in the media – largely fuelled by populist governments. It is more urgent than ever to protect journalism from these threats, remembering that journalists provide a public service,” added Darbishire.

How does AsktheEU Pro work?

Private requests will only become visible for the public whenever the user chooses to do so. AsktheEU.org administrators will be able to access them the whole time, but will only do so in case of technical problems or need by the user. Once the privacy period ends – and if this one is not extended by the user – requests and correspondence, including the user name, will become publicly available on the website for other users and citizens to see.

In addition, Pro users will continue to benefit from the other features of AsktheEU.org: they will be able to access other users’ requests and responses, rate responses for quality and

comprehensiveness, comment on other users’ answers, and file administrative appeals (“confirmatory applications”) when they are dissatisfied with the answers received.

Since its launch in 2011, the AsktheEU.org portal has become an important platform to push for an increase in transparency of EU institutions by permitting thousands of citizens to make access to documents requests to EU bodies and publishing the full exchange of emails between the individuals and EU institutions online.

AsktheEU.org runs on the Alaveteli software which underpins the UK’s successful WhatDoTheyKnow.com built by the NGO mySociety; it is also inspired by Germany’s FragdenStaat.de, from the Open Knowledge Foundation, and similar sites in other EU countries such as Belgium (Transparencia.be), Croatia (Imamo Pravo Znati), Czech Republic (Informace Pro Vsechny),  France (Ma Dada) and Italy (Diritto di Sapere).

Are you a journalist or a researcher interested in the new features of AsktheEU Pro? Become a Pro user now and discover what AsktheEU Pro can do for you!

Send us an email at team[at]asktheeu[dot]org telling us why you would like to be the next AsktheEU Pro user!

Stay tuned! Access Info will soon present a series of webinars to talk about all the features of AsktheEU.org and the Pro version so you can get the most out of your FOI projects.

Follow AsktheEU.org and Access Info on social media and stay tuned for more information!

 

Cover picture: EU2017EE Estonian Presidency via Flickr (CC BY 2.0)