Transparency and right to information in the European UnionPosted: April 28, 2011
An eurobarometer study published last February tells us that most of the EU citizens consider themselves poorly informed on European issues. Oups…
And yet, EU institutions are doing all they can so that what’s happening in Brussels get to the citizens. In fact, transparency is mandatory and Commission, Council and Parliament must submit to it.
Europe, just a click away
Thanks to the internet, you can access a large number of document and publication by the european institutions.
The summary of the EU legislation, classified by themes
The press releases from the Commission
The daily press briefing from the Commission en in video podcast on iTunes
The parlementary sessions live streamed over the internet
The transcript of the MEPs interventions (how to access in this article – in FR)
The legislative work in progress on sur Pre-lex
independent websites also try to monitor what’s going on in Brussels and Strasbourg:
BrusselsLeak, aspiring European wikileaks, which don’t have much to report so far.
And of course, blogs and specialized news sites are here for you. I refer you to BloggingPortal, where you will find everything you need.
It is your right
If all the previously mentioned resources are not enough and you are still in search of a specifi document, don’t give up yet. Indeed, as a European Citizen you have the right to access any documents from the institutions.
This right is clearly states in the Treaty of the Functionning of the European Union (TFEU), article 15th (ex-art. 255 of the TEC for those that still did not moved to Lisbon) and implemented in the regulation 1049/2001, which ensure the access to all documents, publish or not-published (internal notes, preparatory documents, correspondences, …) to the citizen that ask for it. You don’t even have to know the exact reference of the document you are looking for: if you can precisely identify it, the institution has to give you a copy in 15 business days. Important thing: a protected (i.e. ‘secret’) document might be published if the public interest is greater than the interest of keeping it hidden.
A website exists to help you thru the procedure of searching and asking for a document.
Note from the author : I did not have the opportunity so far to ask for a document as part of my blogging work. Be sure that if I have to go thru the procedure one day, I’ll tell you all about it.
An access right to be renewed
Since 2007 and the publishing of a green paper on this topic, the Commission wants to revise the current regulation in order to take into account the jurisprudence accumulated since 2001 and implement the last developments in term of transparency.
Following the consultation in 2007, the Commission suggested in April 2008 amendments on the regulation 1049/2001 to integrate the access to environment information (so far regulated by 1367/2006) and apply the Århus convention, to ensure the protection of personal data when publishing documents, reinforce and ease document access by lengthening the delays for heavy or complex requests
The Parliament approved those suggestions in March 2009, but without formally adopting them. The Council rejected 26 of the amendments, arguing the modification were going too far.
Nothing moved until March 23rd, 2011, when the Commission suggested a minimal revision that will extend the 2001 regulation to all the institutions and create a unique framework for document access.
The Parliament recently called for more transparency in the institutions.