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Access to documents after Lisbon

11-11-2011

Citizens' right to access documents of the EU institutions has been enshrined in EU Treaties and the Char­ter of Fundamental Rights. In 2008, the Commission proposed to change Regu­lation 1049/2001 which sets out the rules for access to such documents. The Council objects strongly to many of Parliament's proposed amend­­ments to the Commission proposal. This has led to an ""institu­tio­nal impasse"", which continues with little sign of any breakthrough. Many MEPs feel that the proposal is a step ...

Citizens' right to access documents of the EU institutions has been enshrined in EU Treaties and the Char­ter of Fundamental Rights. In 2008, the Commission proposed to change Regu­lation 1049/2001 which sets out the rules for access to such documents. The Council objects strongly to many of Parliament's proposed amend­­ments to the Commission proposal. This has led to an ""institu­tio­nal impasse"", which continues with little sign of any breakthrough. Many MEPs feel that the proposal is a step back­wards. For example, the current broad de­fi­ni­tion of ""a document"" would be changed in or­der to exclude preparatory and other draft do­cu­ments, while the excep­tions allowing the insti­tu­tions to refuse access would be re-considered. Balan­cing personal data protection, the distinc­tion between access to documents and to infor­ma­tion, or between legislative documents and ad­ministrative documents, and the treat­ment of clas­sified documents are other points of con­tention. Both Parliament and NGOs argue for user-frien­dly access to all docu­ments related to the legislative process of each act, its ""legis­lative footprint"". Besides updating the Regu­lation, Par­lia­ment also wants to tackle the mal­functions of daily admi­ni­strative practice, as well as non-com­pliance with case law, in institutions' handling of access requests.

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