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.

 

Since

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.