Access to Documents in the EU Workshop

Practitioners, watchdogs and activists speak up on EU transparency.

In February 2011, the Irish Society for European Law (ISEL) and Transparency International Ireland organised a workshop on the state of Access to Documents in the EU. Lectures were given by Bart Driessen (Legal service of the Council), Marc Maes (Deputy head of transparency unit, Commission), Nikiforos Diamandouros (European Ombudsman) and Ronny Patz (University of Potsdam, blogger). These lectures are available in ten YouTube clips.

Interestingly, in nearly a year’s time the substance of the debate has not changed very much, apart from the impact that the landmark judgement on the Access Info Europe case had. In this judgement, which was delivered in March 2011, the Court further extended the argument that transparency must be seen as a fundamental element of EU democracy, and that citizens have a right to know which member state took which position during negotiations.

Secondly, since February of last year the revision process has been carried one step forward by the EP’s formal approval of the Cashman report in December. The thereby technically closed its first reading of the recast regulation, although it remains to be seen whether the Commission and Council will not refuse the EP’s position given that strictly speaking it goes beyond the scope of the proposal. The current Danish presidency might bring further progress by clarifying this point, thereby opening the way to trialogues. – MH