Civil society

Civil rights NGO to hold online event on accessing information in the EU

Event on Friday 18 November, organised by London-based NGO Statewatch, is held as part of the Festival of Social Sciences at the University of Bristol.

Credit: Statewatch.

On Friday 18 November, from 7pm – 8pm CET (Brussels time), Statewatch organises a free-of-charge online event on how to exercise your right as a citizen of access to information in the EU. The event is targeted at a diverse group of lawyers, journalists, campaigners, academics and students with an interest in probing the Union’s institutions.

Statewatch’s multiple-decade legacy

Statewatch has a long legacy of both transparency advocacy and the systematic use of existing access to documents rules in the EU context, that started in the early 1990s. The civil rights watchdog was among the first organisations to systematically chart and test transparency provisions, and to call out the Union institutions, particularly the Council, for their secretive decision-making methods. Policy developments in the area of justice and home affairs have traditionally taken precedence in its advocacy activities.

Due to his energetic and vocal advocacy and reporting, Statewatch founder and former Guardian journalist Tony Bunyan became something of a legend in transparency advocacy circles. Particularly in the late 1990s, he was perceived by more than a few persons in the Council as a troublesome and adversarial muckraker. Bunyan wrote an entertaining and informative short book about this period, which can be accessed for free online. Bunyan stepped down as Statewatch’s Director last September, but remains affiliated with the organisation. He was succeeded by Chris Jones, who has worked for the organisation since 2010.

Continued interest in right of access to documents

The Statewatch event is the second in the same week. On Monday, the European Ombudsman holds a hybrid event from Brussels focussed on the future of access to documents in the EU. The access to documents act, Regulation 1049/2001, marks its twentieth anniversary this year, a fact that was previously subject of two online events organised by the European University Institute and the University of Helsinki.

More information on the Statewatch event and how to register can be found here.