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Spygame for the MEPs: Turco Case

pdf mise en ligne :27 10 2008 ( NEA say… n° 56 )

IMMIGRATION > Droits de l'enfant

After fifty years of integration it is again opened the question on the interinstitutional cooperation between European Institutions, today. It is very difficult for the Members of European Parliamentary (MEPs) receive plenary session’ documents of the Commission and the Council; even if the Parliament and the Commission had already set up a framework for enhanced interinstitutional cooperation on the legislative process with a view to meeting the better lawmaking objective. 

An example could be the “Turco Case” of 22 October 2002. In this date, Maurizio Turco, Italian Member of Group ALDE of the European Parliamentary, presented a demand of access to a legal opinion on a proposal for a Council Directive laying down minimum standards for the reception of applicants for asylum in the Member States to European Council (arguments present in the Meeting Agenda of Council “Justice and Home Affairs” of the 14-15 October 2002); but it granted access to the introductory paragraph of the opinion, and refused access to the remainder of the document. The Council stated that the independent advice of its legal service should be protected and moreover that disclosure of such opinions would lead to uncertainty regarding the legality of the subsequent legislative acts. The Council furthermore rejected the Applicant's argument that in the present case there was an overriding public interest in disclosure.

Mr. Turco, reserved by Sweden, Republic of Finland, Denmark, contested the refusal before the Court of First Instance (CFI) stating amongst other things that the Council's reasoning was too general and the Council had therefore not complied with the obligation to assess disclosure on a case-by-case basis. He moreover disputed the relevance of the need to protect the legal opinion in question and contested the Council's restrictive application of the overriding public interest test.

After many resorts, the result was again the refusal and Turco must pay his legal costs. But, in the final sentence on 1 July 2008 the Court (Grand Chamber) hereby that  “sets aside the judgment of the Court of First Instance of the European Communities of 23 November 2004 in Case T-84/03 Turco v Council in so far as it relates to the decision of the Council of the European Union of 19 December 2002 refusing Mr Turco access to opinion No 9077/02 of the Council’s legal service concerning a proposal for a Council directive laying down minimum standards for the reception of applicants for asylum in Member States and orders Mr Turco and the Council each to pay half of the costs; annuls the decision of the Council of the European Union of 19 December 2002 refusing Mr Turco access to opinion No 9077/02 of the Council’s legal service; orders the Council of the European Union to pay the costs incurred by the Kingdom of Sweden in the appeal proceedings and those incurred by Mr Turco in the appeal proceedings and the proceedings at first instance which resulted in that judgment of the Court of First Instance of the European Communities; orders the Kingdom of Denmark, the Kingdom of the Netherlands, the Republic of Finland, the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, the Council of the European Union and the Commission of the European Communities to bear their own costs relating to the appeal; orders the Council of the European Union to bear its own costs relating to the proceedings at first instance”.

 

Lucia Sirignano

 

Opinion of Mr Advocate General Poiares Maduro delivered on 29 November 2007 (EN) (FR)

Action brought on 28 February 2003 by Maurizio Turco against the Council of the European Union (EN)

Judgment of the Court (Grand Chamber) on 1 July 2008 (EN) (FR)