Madrid, 5 September 2016 – Access Info has submitted recommendations to the Council of Europe on how to improve its Draft guidelines for meaningful civil participation in political decision-making so as to ensure that records are kept and that there is timely publication of relevant documents.
This recommendation comes after research across Europe by Access Info and partners revealed abysmal levels of record keeping. For example, of 21 decision-making processes in nine countries, for half of them (10) no minutes of meetings had been created.
Similarly, the research found that for only four of 34 processes were documents submitted by lobbyists and external interest groups proactively published online.
When documents were requested the average time frame for a response was a good three months (71 calendar days) with the only country answering in less than one month being the shining example of Finland (4.5 calendar days, which included a weekend!).
Welcoming the recognition in the Draft Guidelines that the right of access to information is indispensable for participation in decision making, Access Info also emphasised the importance of the enabling environment for participation, including the need to respect freedom of expression and to ensure protection of whistleblowers.
“In an era where there is pressure on – or even closing of – civic space in a number of countries across Europe, these Guidelines will come as timely reminder of the principles to which Council of Europe member states should adhere,” stated Helen Darbishire, Executive Director of Access Info.
With the Open Government Partnership seeking to strengthen participation in decision making – both in the development of national action plans and more broadly – these guidelines should serve as a strong basis for defining how to frame participatory processes.
“To do participation well, training and resources are essential, so that documents both exist and are proactively disseminated to relevant stakeholders,” added Darbishire.
For more information please contact:
Helen Darbishire | Access Info Europe
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