Right of access to EU documents: more transparency needed

The regulation on access to EU documents needs to be thoroughly revised and a change of mentality is needed, argued MEPs on Wednesday at a hearing organised by the Civil Liberties Committee. [:]

The hearing, titled “The right of access to EU documents: implementation and future of Regulation (EC) No 1049/2001”, gave the MEPs steering Parliament’s work in this field the opportunity to discuss with outside experts the state of play regarding the current regulation and the revision which is under way.

“It was clear today that there is a need now more than ever for more transparency in the EU institutions, and we parliamentarians will drive the new regulation in this direction. This is a law that gives you, the citizens of the EU, the right to access any document held, received or produced by the EU institutions, bodies and agencies. Its main ambition is to make the EU lawmakers and all our institutions more accountable to the citizens, and together with my colleagues from the European Parliament I will do all I can for this to be achieved”, said Michael Cashman (S&D, UK), Civil Liberties Committee rapporteur on the revision of regulation 1049/2001 regarding public access to documents.

Heidi Hautala (Greens/EFA, FI), Civil Liberties Committee rapporteur on the implementation of the regulation, said “Thanks to the work of the Ombudsman and the Court of Justice of the EU we have a sustainable legal framework. Unfortunately, the Member States seem to want to prevent citizens from participating in decision making. Our role in the EP is to defend the rights of citizens in the spirit of the Lisbon Treaty and make openness a high political issue. Therefore I salute Access Info’s great victory of openness against secrecy. It is tragi-comical that the sad state of the EU was revealed by Access Info’s legitimate request to learn of the positions of 27 governments on public access to information”.

“Why is transparency so important? To ensure the participation of citizens and to promote good governance”, said Anneli Jäätteenmäki (ALDE, FI), who is drafting the opinion of the Constitutional Affairs Committee. “The proposal presented by the European Commission alienates the citizens from the EU. We must change the proposal, but we must above all change attitudes. That is the most important but also the most difficult thing. If we want real democracy in the EU we also need real transparency”, she concluded, calling on the Council “to make a commitment to transparency”.