26 April 2012
EFJ Presses EU Member States on Regulations for Access to Information amid Concerns over Public Scrutiny
On the eve of the meeting of EU member states on the recast of the Regulations concerning public access to European Parliament, Council and Commission documents, the European Federation of Journalists today urged member states to rethink current proposals for the recast of the EU's access to documents rules (EC No. 1049/2001), which would completely undermine its original purpose of more transparency and better access to EU documents.
February this year, the Council under the Danish Presidency has resumed the
discussion on access to documents, and according to minutes, member states are
seeking to exclude entire categories of information because of their "core
crucial EU activities". These documents include those related to competition
cases, to infringement proceedings and to court cases as well as to documents
relating to selection procedures within EU institutions.
"We urge Member States to stick to the principle of transparency, as laid down in the Charter of Fundamental Rights and internationally recognised access to information standards," said Arne König, EFJ President. "We are concerned by reports which indicate that member states are considering watering down the definition of "document" and increasing the list of exceptions, which would have a devastating effect on transparency. Secrecy cannot be the solution in difficult times."
While the EFJ has welcomed the Resolution by the European Parliament on 15 December, which contains proposals to improve transparency, it has been extremely disappointed by the Commission's proposals dating back to 2008 and 2011.
Members of the EFJ have sent letters to their national MEPS urging them to stick to what had been adopted in 2011 and not accept bad compromises, which would weaken the almost 11- year -old EU access to information rules.
The EFJ has also signed up to the Civil Society Campaign on reform of the EU access to documents rules, which was initiated by Access info Europe.