Law professor offers constitutional arguments for the disclosure of important Council documents. The General Court orders the Council to reconsider the scope of partial disclosure, but only on procedural grounds.
By Maarten Hillebrandt
On Thursday 12 September, the General Court gave its judgment in Besselink v Council (T-331/11). In January 2011, Leonard Besselink (pictured), then Professor of Constitutional Law at Utrecht University, requested access to the documents relating to the EU’s negotiations to accede to the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms (ECHR). In these documents, the Council discussed the strategic and substantive instructions to the Commission, which negotiated the accession on the EU’s behalf. The final draft of this draft accession treaty is currently going through the process of ratification. However, the Council refused access to the documents in which it instructed the Commission, on the basis of Article 4(1), third indent, of Regulation 1049/2001 on public access to EU documents. This article states that access must be refused where disclosure would undermine the public interest with regard to international relations.