Implementation Legal reform

EP Passes First Reading on Revision Procedure of Public Access to Documents Regulation

Yesterday, the European Parliament formally passed its first reading in the revision procedure on Regulation 1049/2001.

Regulation 1049/2001 has been in place for over ten years now, and has regulated the public’s access to community documents. When adopted, it significantly improved citizens’ access to the EU, making the institutions more transparent. Since then, it has functioned grosso modo to the satisfaction of both citizens and the institutions.

However, a green paper published by the Commission in 2008 revealed that a number of improvements were still to be made. Revision was further rendered necessary in the light of changes incorporated into the 2009 Lisbon Treaty. Moreover, a number of recent landmark judgements by the European Court of Justice have caused growing unease among certain member states about the Regulation’s functioning in practice.

The revision procedure has been marked by significant delays since its start in 2008. EP rapporteur Cashman’s report with recommendations was actually already completed in 2009. However, it is only now, two and a half years on, that the EP has formally concluded its first reading, meaning that a significant step forward has been taken in the process.

The version of the Regulation passed by the EP is fairly progressive, while a number of amendments put forward by the more conservative European People’s Party were not carried. This will put further pressure on the Council to accept a revised version of the access to documents regulation that is considerably more extensive than the proposals put forward by the Commission in 2008, and again in 2011.  –MH