Transparency International (TI) calls on members of a European Parliament committee today to vote in favour of transparency and accountability.
A successful vote by members of the European Parliament’s Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs Committee on the regulation of ‘Access to EU Documents’ will be a milestone to improving the understanding and credibility of the EU and to bring it closer to its citizens – a fundamental goal of the European Transparency Initiative (ETI).
In TI’s view, it is crucial that the revised regulation takes into account the following priorities:
- Improved access to European Council documents, to ensure the publicity of all discussions, documents and information, including the identity of the Member States’ delegations and voting positions.
- Improved access to documents originating from 27 EU Member States, especially to those related to the disclosure of EU fund beneficiaries.
- A simple and broad enough definition of the word ‘document’ to guarantee maximum access for the public and prevent loopholes.
“The opportunity to revise this regulation needs to be seized in order to promote transparency and ensure the participation of the public. Not only should European Council documents be made accessible, but light needs to be shed on the work of the Council of Ministers and the disclosure of the positions of each EU Member State” said Miklos Marschall, Director for Europe and Central Asia at TI.
TI is concerned that the revised regulation may bring insufficient improvement. Not only does the proposed phrasing for access to EU Member States and Council documents gives institutions too much scope to deny access, but the restricted access to documents from EU Member States means it is difficult for the public to scrutinise EU spending and EU funds beneficiaries.
TI also sees the proposed definition and categorisation of documents counter-productive to the idea of having a simple, broad and ultimately transparent access to EU documents.
“The original Commission proposal meant less access to EU documents. The European Parliament must now turn the proposed regulation into a strong instrument as demanded by the United Nations Convention Against Corruption (Article 13), which has been ratified by the European Community and almost every EU Member State. It is only with robust and enforced ‘freedom of access to EU information’ that civil society can hold the institutions to account” said Jana Mittermaier, Head of TI’s Brussels Office.
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