Procedure : 2012/2069(ACI)
Document stages in plenary
Document selected : A7-0245/2012

Texts tabled :

A7-0245/2012

Debates :

PV 13/09/2012 - 6
CRE 13/09/2012 - 6

Votes :

PV 13/09/2012 - 11.3
CRE 13/09/2012 - 11.3
Explanations of votes
Explanations of votes

Texts adopted :

P7_TA(2012)0339

REPORT     
PDF 199kWORD 124k
18.7.2012
PE 489.377v02-00 A7-0245/2012

on the conclusion of an interinstitutional agreement between the European Parliament and the Council concerning the forwarding to and handling by the European Parliament of classified information held by the Council on matters other than those in the area of the common foreign and security policy

(2012/2069(ACI))

Committee on Constitutional Affairs

Rapporteur: Gerald Häfner

PROPOSAL FOR A EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT DECISION
 ANNEX: INTERINSTITUTIONAL AGREEMENT between the European Parliament and the Council concerning the forwarding to and handling by the European Parliament of classified information held by the Council on matters other than those in the area of the Common Foreign and Security Policy
 EXPLANATORY STATEMENT
 RESULT OF FINAL VOTE IN COMMITTEE

PROPOSAL FOR A EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT DECISION

on the conclusion of an interinstitutional agreement between the European Parliament and the Council concerning the forwarding to and handling by the European Parliament of classified information held by the Council on matters other than those in the area of the common foreign and security policy (2012/2069(ACI))

The European Parliament,

–   having regard to the letter from its President of 10 April 2012,

–   having regard to the draft interinstitutional agreement between the European Parliament and the Council concerning the forwarding to and handling by the European Parliament of classified information held by the Council on matters other than those in the area of the common foreign and security policy,

–   having regard to the second paragraph of Article 1, Articles 2, 6, 10 and 11 of the Treaty on European Union (TEU) and Articles 15 and 295 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU),

–   having regard to Regulation (EC) No 1049/2001 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 30 May 2001 regarding public access to European Parliament, Council and Commission documents(1) and in particular Articles 2(5) and 9 thereof,

–   having regard to its resolution of 14 September 2011 on public access to documents (Rule 104(7)) for the years 2009-2010(2) and in particular paragraph 12 thereof,

–   having regard to Rule 23(12) and Rule 127(1) of, and Annex VIII to, its Rules of Procedure,

–   having regard to the report of the Committee on Constitutional Affairs (A7-0245/2012),

A.  whereas transparency and access to all relevant documents and information form the basis of, and are a compulsory precondition for, democracy and, in particular, enable the European Parliament to do its work for the people as provided for in the Treaties,

B.   whereas the Lisbon Treaty reinforces the requirements of transparency and the rights of citizens to participate in the decision-making of the Union; whereas limits on the right of Parliament and its Members to share relevant information with the public must constitute clearly framed and justified exceptions,

C.  whereas the principle of sincere cooperation between the European institutions is enshrined in the Treaties, specifically in Article 13(2) TEU,

D.  whereas Article 14(1) TEU states that the European Parliament shall, jointly with the Council, exercise legislative and budgetary functions and that it shall exercise functions of political control and consultation as laid down in the Treaties, and whereas, in order to exercise effectively the functions assigned to it by the Treaty, Parliament must have access to relevant Council documents,

E.  whereas the Treaties provide that the Council must consult Parliament and obtain its consent before certain legal acts can be adopted,

F    whereas Article 218(10) TFEU requires that Parliament be immediately and fully informed at all stages of the procedure relating to international agreements,

G.  whereas rules on classification and declassification of Union documents should be laid down by means of regulations adopted by the European Parliament and the Council on the basis of Article 15(3) TFEU(3),

H.  whereas the Framework Agreement on relations between the European Parliament and the European Commission(4) already lays down the rules concerning the forwarding of confidential information from the Commission to Parliament,

I.    whereas the decision of the Bureau of the European Parliament of 6 June 2011(5) lays down the rules governing the treatment of confidential information by the European Parliament,

J.    whereas the Conference of Presidents nominated a negotiating team to conduct talks with the Council of Ministers on three specific issues: the inclusion of correlation tables in Union directives, rules on Parliament's participation in international conferences and access to classified documents held by the Council; whereas the issues of correlation tables and of Parliament's participation in international conferences have meanwhile been settled(6),

1.   Considers the agreement concerning the forwarding to and handling by Parliament of classified information held by the Council on matters other than those in the area of the common foreign and security policy ("the agreement") to be an indispensable instrument enabling Parliament to fully exercise its powers and functions; points out that the agreement is without prejudice to the regulations on access to documents adopted in accordance with Article 15(3) TFEU;

2.   Points out that, while the scope of the agreement concerns classified information on matters other than those in the area of the common foreign and security policy, international agreements under Article 218(6) TFEU which do not relate exclusively to the common foreign and security policy ('mixed' agreements) are covered by the agreement, including any part thereof that falls under the common foreign and security policy; underlines, moreover, that access by Parliament to any classified information which relates exclusively to the common foreign and security policy will continue to be governed by arrangements under an ad hoc Council decision or under the Interinstitutional Agreement of 20 November 2002 concerning access by the European Parliament to sensitive information of the Council in the field of security and defence policy(7) ("the 2002 Interinstitutional Agreement") until other arrangements are agreed;

3.   Draws attention in that context to the statement by the European Parliament and the Council attached to the agreement, which states that a review of the 2002 Interinstitutional Agreement should begin in the course of 2012 and should take account of the experience gained in implementing both the agreement and the 2002 Interinstitutional Agreement;

4.   Deplores the fact that the 2002 Interinstitutional Agreement did not set out more clear-cut arrangements on access to classified information concerning the common foreign and security policy than the adoption of ad hoc decisions; stresses, therefore, that it is of the utmost importance that Parliament and the Council begin negotiations with a view to amending the 2002 Interinstitutional Agreement to reflect both the reforms carried out since it was concluded and the current situation;

5.   Welcomes the statement attached to the agreement concerning the classification of documents; regrets however that, unlike the Framework Agreement between the Commission and Parliament, the agreement does not lay down a detailed procedure to be followed in cases of doubt regarding the confidential nature of an item of information or its appropriate level of classification;

6.   Welcomes, in particular, the following aspects contained in the agreement:

–       a differentiation in the handling and storage of documents depending on the level of classification;

–       a differentiation in procedures as regards security clearance for Members and staff depending on the level of classification, whereby no security clearance will be necessary for Members in respect of documents beneath the level of "CONFIDENTIEL UE/EU CONFIDENTIAL" or equivalent, as is the case in the abovementioned Framework Agreement between Parliament and the Commission;

–       the inclusion of documents classified at the level of "TRÈS SECRET UE/EU TOP SECRET" or equivalent within the scope of the agreement, as is the case in the abovementioned Framework Agreement between Parliament and the Commission;

–       the fact that access to documents, as appropriate, may be granted also to rapporteurs, shadow rapporteurs, or all or certain members of the committee(s) concerned;

–       provisions on close cooperation between Parliament and the Council to ensure equivalent levels of protection for classified documents;

7.   Invites the Bureau, in accordance with Rule 23(12), to adapt its abovementioned decision of 6 June 2011 to take account of the agreement;

8.   Approves conclusion of the agreement in the form annexed hereto and decides to annex it to its Rules of Procedure;

9.   Instructs its President to sign the agreement with the President of the Council;

10. Instructs its President to forward this decision, including its annex, to the Council and the Commission, for information.

(1)

OJ L 145, 31.5.2001, p 43.

(2)

Texts adopted, P7_TA(2011)0378.

(3)

See also in this context Parliament's legislative resolution of 15 December 2011 on the proposal for a regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council regarding public access to European Parliament, Council and Commission documents (recast) (P7_TA(2011)0580) and its above-mentioned resolution of 14 September 2011 on public access to documents (Rule 104(7)) for the years 2009-2010.

(4)

OJ L 304, 20.11.2010, p. 47.

(5)

OJ C 190, 30.6.2011, p. 2.

(6)

For correlation tables, see the Joint Political Declaration of the European Parliament, the Council and the Commission on explanatory documents annexed to Parliament's legislative resolution of 27 October 2011 on the proposal for a directive of the European Parliament and of the Council on minimum standards for the qualification and status of third country nationals or stateless persons as beneficiaries of international protection and the content of the protection granted (recast) (P7_TA(2011)0469); as regards Parliament's participation, the matter was concluded by way of an exchange of letters.

(7)

OJ C 298, 30.11.2002, p. 1.


ANNEX: INTERINSTITUTIONAL AGREEMENT between the European Parliament and the Council concerning the forwarding to and handling by the European Parliament of classified information held by the Council on matters other than those in the area of the Common Foreign and Security Policy

THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT AND THE COUNCIL,

Whereas:

(1)         Article 14(1) of the Treaty on European Union (TEU) provides that the European Parliament jointly with the Council, is to exercise legislative and budgetary functions and that it is to exercise functions of political control and consultation as laid down in the Treaties.

(2)         Article 13(2) TEU provides that each institution is to act within the limits of the powers conferred on it in the Treaties, and in conformity with the procedures, conditions and objectives set out in them. That provision also stipulates that the institutions are to practice mutual sincere cooperation. Article 295 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU) provides that the European Parliament and the Council, inter alia, are to make arrangements for their cooperation and that, to that end, they may, in compliance with the Treaties, conclude interinstitutional agreements which may be of a binding nature.

(3)         The Treaties and, as appropriate, other relevant provisions provide that either in the context of a special legislative procedure or under other decision-making procedures, the Council is to consult or obtain the consent of the European Parliament before adopting a legal act. The Treaties also provide that, in certain cases, the European Parliament is to be informed about the progress or the results of a given procedure or be involved in the evaluation or the scrutiny of certain Union agencies.

(4)  In particular, Article 218(6) TFEU provides that, except where an international agreement relates exclusively to the common foreign and security policy, the Council is to adopt the decision concluding the agreement in question after obtaining the consent of or consulting the European Parliament; all such international agreements which do not relate exclusively to the common foreign and security policy are therefore covered by this Interinstitutional Agreement.

(5)         Article 218(10) of the TFEU provides that the European Parliament is to be immediately and fully informed at all stages of the procedure; that provision also applies to agreements relating to the common foreign and security policy.

(6)         In cases where implementation of the Treaties and, as appropriate, other relevant provisions would require access by the European Parliament to classified information held by the Council, appropriate arrangements governing such access should be agreed upon between the European Parliament and the Council.

(7)         Where the Council decides to grant the European Parliament access to classified information held by the Council in the area of the common foreign and security policy, it either takes ad hoc decisions to that effect or uses the Interinstitutional Agreement of 20 November 2002 between the European Parliament and the Council concerning access by the European Parliament to sensitive information of the Council in the field of security and defence policy(1) (hereinafter "the Interinstitutional Agreement of 20 November 2002"), as appropriate.

(8)  The Declaration by the High Representative on political accountability(2), made upon the adoption of Council Decision 2010/427/EU of 26 July 2010 establishing the organisation and functioning of the European External Action Service(3), states that the High Representative will review and where necessary propose to adjust the existing provisions on access for Members of the European Parliament to classified documents and information in the field of security and defence policy (i.e. the Interinstitutional Agreement of 20 November 2002).

(9)         It is important that the European Parliament be associated with the principles, standards and rules for protecting classified information which are necessary in order to protect the interests of the European Union and of the Member States. Moreover, the European Parliament will be in a position to provide classified information to the Council.

(10)       On 31 March 2011 the Council adopted Decision 2011/292/EU on the security rules for protecting EU classified information(4) (hereinafter "the Council's security rules").

(11)       On 6 June 2011, the Bureau of the European Parliament adopted a Decision concerning the rules governing the treatment of confidential information by the European Parliament(5) (hereinafter "the European Parliament's security rules").

(12)  The security rules of Union institutions, bodies, offices or agencies should together constitute a comprehensive and coherent general framework within the European Union for protecting classified information, and should ensure equivalence of basic principles and minimum standards. The basic principles and minimum standards laid down in the European Parliament's security rules and in the Council's security rules should accordingly be equivalent.

(13)       The level of protection afforded to classified information under the European Parliament's security rules should be equivalent to that afforded to classified information under the Council's security rules.

(14)       The relevant services of the European Parliament's Secretariat and of the General Secretariat of the Council will cooperate closely to ensure that equivalent levels of protection are applied to classified information in both institutions.

(15)       This Agreement is without prejudice to existing and future rules on access to documents adopted in accordance with Article 15(3) TFEU; rules on the protection of personal data adopted in accordance with Article 16(2) TFEU; rules on the European Parliament's right of inquiry adopted in accordance with third paragraph of Article 226 TFEU; and relevant provisions relating to the European Anti-Fraud Office (OLAF),

HAVE AGREED AS FOLLOWS:

Article 1Purpose and scope

This Agreement sets out arrangements governing the forwarding to and handling by the European Parliament of classified information held by the Council, on matters other than those in the area of the common foreign and security policy, which is relevant in order for the European Parliament to exercise its powers and functions. It concerns all such matters, namely:

(a)         proposals subject to a special legislative procedure or to another decision-making procedure under which the European Parliament is to be consulted or is required to give its consent;

(b)         international agreements on which the European Parliament is to be consulted or is required to give its consent pursuant to Article 218(6) TFEU;

(c)         negotiating directives for international agreements referred to in point (b);

(d)         activities, evaluation reports or other documents on which the European Parliament is to be informed; and

(e)         documents on the activities of those Union agencies in the evaluation or scrutiny of which the European Parliament is to be involved.

Article 2Definition of "classified information"

For the purposes of this Agreement, "classified information" shall mean any or all of the following:

(a)         "EU classified information" (EUCI) as defined in the European Parliament's security rules and in the Council's security rules and bearing one of the following security classification markings:

 RESTREINT UE/EU RESTRICTED;

 CONFIDENTIEL UE/EU CONFIDENTIAL;

 SECRET UE/EU SECRET;

 TRÈS SECRET UE/EU TOP SECRET;

(b)         classified information provided to the Council by Member States and bearing a national security classification marking equivalent to one of the security classification markings used for EUCI listed in point (a);

(c)         classified information provided to the European Union by third States or international organisations which bears a security classification marking equivalent to one of the security classification markings used for EUCI listed in point (a), as provided for in the relevant security of information agreements or administrative arrangements.

Article 3Protection of classified information

1.          The European Parliament shall protect, in accordance with its security rules and with this Agreement, any classified information provided to it by the Council.

2.          As equivalence is to be maintained between the basic principles and minimum standards for protecting classified information laid down by the European Parliament and by the Council in their respective security rules, the European Parliament shall ensure that the security measures in place in its premises afford a level of protection to classified information equivalent to that afforded to such information on Council premises. The relevant services of the European Parliament and the Council shall cooperate closely to that effect.

3.          The European Parliament shall take the appropriate measures to ensure that classified information provided to it by the Council shall not:

(a)    be used for purposes other than those for which access was provided;

(b)    be disclosed to persons other than those to whom access has been granted in accordance with Articles 4 and 5, or made public;

(c)    be released to other Union institutions, bodies, offices or agencies, or to Member States, third States or international organisations without the prior written consent of the Council.

4.  The Council may grant the European Parliament access to classified information which originates in other Union institutions, bodies, offices or agencies, or in Member States, third States or international organisations only with the prior written consent of the originator.

Article 4Personnel security

1.          Access to classified information shall be granted to Members of the European Parliament in accordance with Article 5(4).

2.          Where the information concerned is classified at the level CONFIDENTIEL UE/EU CONFIDENTIAL, SECRET UE/EU SECRET or TRÈS SECRET UE/EU TOP SECRET or its equivalent, access may be granted only to Members of the European Parliament authorised by the President of the European Parliament:

(a)    who have been security-cleared in accordance with the European Parliament's security rules; or

(b)    for whom notification has been made by a competent national authority that they are duly authorised by virtue of their functions in accordance with national laws and regulations.

Notwithstanding the first subparagraph, where the information concerned is classified at the level CONFIDENTIEL UE/EU CONFIDENTIAL or its equivalent, access may also be granted to those Members of the European Parliament determined in accordance with Article 5(4) who have signed a solemn declaration of non-disclosure in accordance with the European Parliament's security rules. The Council shall be informed of the names of the Members of the European Parliament granted access under this subparagraph.

3.          Before being granted access to classified information, Members of the European Parliament shall be briefed on and acknowledge their responsibilities to protect such information in accordance with the European Parliament's security rules, and briefed on the means of ensuring such protection.

4.          Access to classified information shall be granted only to those officials of the European Parliament and other Parliament employees working for political groups who:

(a)    have been designated in advance as having a need-to-know by the relevant parliamentary body or office-holder determined in accordance with Article 5(4);

(b)    have been security-cleared to the appropriate level in accordance with the European Parliament's security rules where the information is classified at the level CONFIDENTIEL UE/EU CONFIDENTIAL, SECRET UE/EU SECRET or TRÈS SECRET UE/EU TOP SECRET or its equivalent; and

(c)  have been briefed and received written instructions on their responsibilities for protecting such information as well as on the means of ensuring such protection, and have signed a declaration acknowledging receipt of those instructions and undertaking to comply with them in accordance with the European Parliament's security rules.

Article 5Procedure for accessing classified information

1.          The Council shall provide classified information as referred to in Article 1 to the European Parliament where it is under a legal obligation to do so pursuant to the Treaties or to legal acts adopted on the basis of the Treaties. The parliamentary bodies or office-holders referred to in paragraph 3 may also present a written request for such information.

2.          In other cases, the Council may provide classified information as referred to in Article 1 to the European Parliament either at its own initiative or on written request from one of the parliamentary bodies or office-holders referred to in paragraph 3.

3.  The following parliamentary bodies or office-holders may present written requests to the Council:

(a)    the President;

(b)    the Conference of Presidents;

(c)    the Bureau;

(d)    the chair(s) of the committee(s) concerned;

(e)    the rapporteur(s) concerned.

Requests from other Members of the European Parliament shall be made via one of the parliamentary bodies or office-holders referred to in the first subparagraph.

The Council shall respond to such requests without delay.

4.          Where the Council is under a legal obligation to, or has decided to, grant the European Parliament access to classified information, it shall determine the following in writing before that information is forwarded, together with the relevant body or office‑holder as listed in paragraph 3:

(a)    that such access may be granted to one or more of the following:

(i)     the President;

(ii)     the Conference of Presidents;

(iii)    the Bureau;

(iv)  the chair(s) of the committee(s) concerned;

(v)    the rapporteur(s) concerned;

(vi)    all or certain members of the committee(s) concerned; and

(b)    any specific handling arrangements for protecting such information.

Article 6Registration, storage, consultation and discussion

of classified information in the European Parliament

1.          Classified information provided by the Council to the European Parliament, where it is classified at the level CONFIDENTIEL UE/EU CONFIDENTIAL, SECRET UE/EU SECRET or TRÈS SECRET UE/EU TOP SECRET or its equivalent:

(a)    shall be registered for security purposes to record its life-cycle and ensure its traceability at all times;

(b)    shall be stored in a secure area which meets the minimum standards of physical security laid down in the Council's security rules and the European Parliament's security rules, which shall be equivalent; and

(c)  may be consulted by the relevant Members of the European Parliament, officials of the European Parliament and other Parliament employees working for political groups referred to in Article 4(4) and Article 5(4) only in a secure reading room within the European Parliament's premises. In this case, the following conditions shall apply:

(i)     the information shall not be copied by any means, such as photocopying or photographing;

(ii)     no notes shall be taken; and

(iii)    no electronic communication devices may be taken into the room.

2.          Classified information provided by the Council to the European Parliament, where it is classified at the level RESTREINT UE/EU RESTRICTED or its equivalent, shall be handled and stored in accordance with the European Parliament's security rules which shall afford a level of protection for such classified information equivalent to that of the Council.

Notwithstanding the first subparagraph, for a period of 12 months following the entry into force of this Agreement, information classified at the level RESTREINT UE/EU RESTRICTED or its equivalent shall be handled and stored in accordance with paragraph 1. Access to such classified information shall be governed by points (a) and (c) of Article 4(4) and by Article 5(4).

3.  Classified information may be handled only on communication and information systems which have been duly accredited or approved in accordance with standards equivalent to those laid down in the Council's security rules.

4.          Classified information provided orally to recipients in the European Parliament shall be subject to the equivalent level of protection as that afforded to classified information in written form.

5.          Notwithstanding point (c) of paragraph 1 of this Article, information classified up to the level of CONFIDENTIEL UE/EU CONFIDENTIAL or its equivalent provided by the Council to the European Parliament may be discussed at meetings held in camera and attended only by Members of the European Parliament and those officials of the European Parliament and other Parliament employees working for political groups who have been granted access to the information in accordance with Article 4(4) and Article 5(4). The following conditions shall apply:

 documents shall be distributed at the beginning of the meeting and collected again at the end;

 documents shall not be copied by any means, such as photocopying or photographing;

 no notes shall be taken;

 no electronic communication devices may be taken into the room; and

 the minutes of the meeting shall make no mention of the discussion of the item containing classified information.

6.          Where meetings are necessary to discuss information classified at the level SECRET UE/EU SECRET or TRÈS SECRET UE/EU TOP SECRET or its equivalent, specific arrangements shall be agreed on a case-by-case basis between the European Parliament and the Council.

Article 7Breach of security, loss or compromise of classified information

1.          In the case of a proven or suspected loss or compromise of classified information provided by the Council, the Secretary-General of the European Parliament shall immediately inform the Secretary-General of the Council thereof. The Secretary-General of the European Parliament shall conduct an investigation and shall inform the Secretary-General of the Council of the results of the investigation and of measures taken to prevent a recurrence. Where a Member of the European Parliament is concerned, the President of the European Parliament shall act together with the Secretary-General of the European Parliament.

2.          Any Member of the European Parliament who is responsible for a breach of the provisions laid down in the European Parliament's security rules or in this Agreement may be liable to measures and penalties in accordance with Rules 9(2) and 152 to 154 of the European Parliament's Rules of Procedure.

3.  Any official of the European Parliament or other Parliament employee working for a political group who is responsible for a breach of the provisions laid down in the European Parliament's security rules or in this Agreement may be liable to the penalties set out in the Staff Regulations of Officials and the Conditions of Employment of Other Servants of the European Union, laid down in Council Regulation (EEC, Euratom, ECSC) No 259/68(6).

4.          Persons responsible for losing or compromising classified information may be liable to disciplinary and/or legal action in accordance with the applicable laws, rules and regulations.

Article 8Final provisions

1.          The European Parliament and the Council, each for its own part, shall take all necessary measures to ensure implementation of this Agreement. They shall cooperate to that effect, in particular by organising visits to monitor the implementation of the security-technical aspects of this Agreement.

2.          The relevant services of the European Parliament's Secretariat and of the General Secretariat of the Council shall consult each other before either institution modifies its respective security rules, in order to ensure that equivalence of basic principles and minimum standards for protecting classified information is maintained.

3.  Classified information shall be provided to the European Parliament under this Agreement once the Council, together with the European Parliament, has determined that equivalence has been achieved between the basic principles and minimum standards for protecting classified information in the European Parliament's and in the Council's security rules, on the one hand, and between the level of protection afforded to classified information in the premises of the European Parliament and of the Council, on the other.

4.          This Agreement may be reviewed at the request of either institution in the light of experience in implementing it.

5.        This Agreement shall enter into force on the date of its publication in the Official Journal of     the European Union.

Done at … on …

For the European Parliament                                              For the Council

The President                                                                       The President

STATEMENTS

(a)         Statement by the European Parliament and the Council on Article 8(3)

The European Parliament and the Council will cooperate so that the determination referred to in Article 8(3) of the Interinstitutional Agreement of ...(7)* between the European Parliament and the Council concerning the forwarding to and handling by the European Parliament of classified information held by the Council on matters other than those in the area of the common foreign and security policy can be made by the date of entry into force of that Agreement.

(b)         Statement by the European Parliament and the Council on the classification of documents

The European Parliament and the Council recall that the underclassification or overclassification of documents undermines the credibility of security rules.

The Council will continue to ensure that the correct level of classification is applied to information originating within the Council in accordance with its security rules. The Council will review the level of classification of any document before forwarding it to the European Parliament, in particular to verify whether such level of classification is still appropriate.

The European Parliament will protect any classified information provided to it in a manner commensurate with its level of classification. In the event of it requesting whether a classified document provided by the Council may be downgraded or declassified, such downgrading or declassification may occur only with the prior written consent of the Council.

(c)         Statement by the European Parliament and the Council on access to classified information in the area of the common foreign and security policy

Recalling the Declaration by the High Representative on political accountability(8), the European Parliament and the Council consider that a review of the Interinstitutional Agreement of 20 November 2002 between the European Parliament and the Council concerning access by the European Parliament to sensitive information of the Council in the field of security and defence policy(9) should begin in the course of 2012.

This review will be undertaken respecting the specific role of the European Parliament in the area of the common foreign and security policy and taking account of experience gained in implementing both the Interinstitutional Agreement of ...(10)* between the European Parliament and the Council concerning the forwarding to and handling by the European Parliament of classified information held by the Council on matters other than those in the area of the common foreign and security policy and the above-mentioned Interinstitutional Agreement of 20 November 2002.

Pending completion of this review, where the Council decides to grant the European Parliament access to classified information held by the Council in the area of the common foreign and security policy, it proceeds as described in recital 7 of the Interinstitutional Agreement of ...(11)* between the European Parliament and the Council concerning the forwarding to and handling by the European Parliament of classified information held by the Council on matters other than those in the area of the common foreign and security policy and in accordance with paragraph 2 of the Declaration by the High Representative referred to above.

The European Parliament and the Council agree that the implementation of this statement will take duly into account the specific nature and the especially sensitive content of information in the area of the common foreign and security policy.

(d)         Statement by the Council on unclassified Council documents

The Council confirms that the Interinstitutional Agreement of ...(12)* between the European Parliament and the Council concerning the forwarding to and handling by the European Parliament of classified information held by the Council on matters other than those in the area of the common foreign and security policy does not apply to unclassified documents internal to the Council (i.e. those marked "LIMITÉ").

(e)  Statement by the European Parliament on classified information held by the Commission

The European Parliament underlines that classified information of which the European Commission is the originator and/or which is forwarded to the European Parliament by the European Commission shall be forwarded and handled in accordance with the provisions set out in the Framework Agreement of 20 October 2010 on relations between the European Parliament and the European Commission(13).

(1)

          OJ C 298, 30.11.2002, p. 1.

(2)

          OJ C 210, 3.8.2010, p. 1.

(3)

         OJ L 201, 3.8.2010, p. 30.

(4)

         OJ L 141, 27.5.2011, p. 17.

(5)

         OJ C 190, 30.6.2011, p. 2.

(6)

         OJ L 56, 4.3.1968, p. 1.

(7)

*          OJ: please insert the date of signature of the Interinstitutional Agreement.

(8)

         OJ C 210, 3.8.2010, p. 1.

(9)

        OJ C 298, 30.11.2002, p. 1.

(10)

*          OJ: please insert the date of signature of the Interinstitutional Agreement.

(11)

*          OJ: please insert the date of signature of the Interinstitutional Agreement.

(12)

*          OJ: please insert the date of signature of the Interinstitutional Agreement.

(13)

        OJ L 304, 20.11.2010, p. 47.


EXPLANATORY STATEMENT

Background

Transparency and access to all relevant documents and information is the very basis of and a compulsory precondition for democracy and especially for the European Parliament in order to be capable to do its work.

The Treaty of Lisbon extended Parliament's powers as a co-legislator with Council. Notably it increased Parliament's powers in the field of international agreements. Council's obligation to inform the Parliament is explicitly stated in the Article 218(10) TFEU, according to which Parliament shall be immediately and fully informed at all stages of the procedure. For the effective exercise of its prerogatives and competences Parliament needs access to classified information held by Council. Arrangements need therefore to be made for cooperation between Council and Parliament. Article 295 TFEU allows for the conclusion of Interinstitutional agreements for that purpose.

The Framework agreement on relations between the European Parliament and the Commission of 2010 contains also an agreement on specific provisions on the forwarding of confidential information by the Commission to Parliament. These are set out in annex II to that agreement. On 6 June 2011 the Parliament's Bureau adopted new rules governing the treatment of confidential information by the European Parliament to set up new structures within the administration for the treatment and handling of confidential information. These measures were specifically foreseen for the implementation of the Framework Agreement with the Commission, but in the wider context they are meant to facilitate the establishment of standards and procedures which guarantee an equivalence of treatment of classified information across the EU institutions.

The agreements regarding access by Parliament to classified information held by the Commission and Council are without prejudice to the regulations adopted on the basis of article 15(3) TFEU. It is those regulations that determine the general principles and limits governing the right of access to documents by citizens of the Union and any natural or legal person residing or having its registered office in a Member State.

At its meetings of 17 February and 3 and 10 March 2011 the Conference of Presidents discussed a number of issues regarding some of the new provisions of the Lisbon Treaty on which Parliament and Council had diverging perceptions . The Conference of Presidents decided to nominate a European Parliament negotiating team, led by Mr Lehne and comprising furthermore Mr Swoboda, Ms Wallis and Ms Harms, to conduct talks with the Council of Ministers on three specific issues: the inclusion of correlation tables in EU directives, rules on Parliaments participation in international conferences and access to classified documents held by Council. At its meetings of 29 September and 20 October 2011 the Conference of Presidents endorsed the outcome of discussions on the issues of EP participation in international conferences and correlation tables. On 15 March 2012 the Conference of Presidents endorsed the outcome of negotiations on a draft Interinstitutional agreement concerning the forwarding to and handling by the European Parliament of classified information held by Council on matters other than those in the area of the Common Foreign and Security Policy and referred the draft IIA to the Committee on Constitutional Affairs pursuant to Rule 127 of the Rules of Procedure.

The draft Agreement

The negotiations resulted in the beginning of March 2012 in a jointly agreed draft text for an Interinstitutional Agreement on access to classified information held by the Council. The text of the draft Agreement follows as closely as possible the standards and principles set out in the previously-adopted texts (ie, the Bureau rules on confidential information and the relevant provisions of the Framework Agreement with the Commission) with a view to guaranteeing an equivalence of treatment of classified information across the EU institutions.

The Parliament achieved some key objectives in the negotiations, including:

-          provision for access to classified information by Members and EP staff on EP premises, in accordance with EP security rules;

-          security clearance for Members will not be requested for documents up to the level of EU CONFIDENTIAL (as is also the case with the Commission);

-          access will be given as appropriate depending on the dossier, to rapporteurs, shadow rapporteurs or all committee members.

The present draft Agreement concerns access to classified information on matters other than those in the area of the Common Foreign and Security Policy. However recital 4 and 7, articles 1(b) and 1(c) and a statement attached to the Agreement concerning the classified information in this area clarify that so called 'mixed' agreements fall under the scope of this agreement and that access to classified information that relates exclusively to the CFSP will be governed by arrangements under an ad hoc Council decision or using the 2002 IIA. According to the same statement a review of the Interinstitutional Agreement of 20 November 2002 should begin in the course of 2012.


RESULT OF FINAL VOTE IN COMMITTEE

Date adopted

12.7.2012

 

 

 

Result of final vote

+:

–:

0:

20

0

0

Members present for the final vote

Andrew Henry William Brons, Carlo Casini, Andrew Duff, Ashley Fox, Roberto Gualtieri, Enrique Guerrero Salom, Gerald Häfner, Daniel Hannan, Stanimir Ilchev, Constance Le Grip, Morten Messerschmidt, Paulo Rangel, Algirdas Saudargas, József Szájer, Rafał Trzaskowski, Manfred Weber

Substitute(s) present for the final vote

Zuzana Brzobohatá, Marietta Giannakou, Helmut Scholz, Alexandra Thein

Legal notice - Privacy policy