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Rapport Jaatteenmaky to promote the transparency. Public access to European Parliament, Council and Commission documents to citizens

pdf mise en ligne :25 11 2008 ( NEA say… n° 57 )

IMMIGRATION > Droits de l'enfant

On 15th October, the rapporteur Anneli Jaatteenmaky presents the Draft Opinion of the Committee on Constitutional Affairs for the Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs on the proposal for a regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council and Commission documents.

"Any citizen of the Union, and any natural or legal person residing or having its registered office in a Member States, shall have a right of access to European Parliament, Council and Commission documents".

 

This is clearly stated in the Article 255 of the Treaty establishing the European Community (TEC):

transparency is a fundamental principle of the European Union.

The Lisbon Treaty states in addition:

 

"Decisions shall be taken as openly and as closely as possible to the citizen" (Article 10-3 of the TUE).

 

Furthermore

 

"In order to promote good governance and ensure the participation of civil society, the Union institutions, bodies, offices and agencies shall conduct their work as openly as possible (Article 15-1 of the TFEU).

 

The present regulation 1049/2001 was a significant step towards greater openness. The decisions that the Court of Justice has made on the basis of Regulation 1049/2001 have been important to this process. The last of these was the very significant judgment that the Court made in the so-called Turco case( T-84/03 Turco v. Council) (EN-FR). The Court believes that the principals of transparency and openness in the decision-making process constitute an "overriding public interest" that justifies the disclosure of the legal advice. In its conclusion the Court states that: "openness...contributes to conferring greater legitimacy on the institutions in the eyes of European citizens and increases their confidence in them".

 

 

The Commission proposal

The Commission gave its proposal for amending Regulation 1049/2001 on 30 April 2008. In the Explanatory Statement of the Proposal, the Commission tries to give the impression that it has made the changes for which the Parliament has been asking. Regrettably this is not at all case. Where the Parliament asked for more openness, on the contrary, many amendment the Commission is proposing to Article 3 which would significantly limit the definition of a document. If this change  were realised, only a little part of the documents currently open to the public would continue be so in the future.

Another amendment that the Rapporteur finds worrying concerns the right of the Member Sates to withhold documents an Article 5. The formulation proposed by the Commission would give the Member States an unlimited right to appeal to their own legislation. The institutions could only consider reason based on the Regulation. Such a right would water down the principle of transparency and leave it completely at the discretion of Member States.

The Commission has totally ignored the proposals made by the Parliament in the resolution of 4 April 2006 concerning the possibilities for the Parliament to exercise its right for democratic scrutiny. The Parliament must have access to sensitive documents in order to fully discharge its duties – the arrangements on handling such documents can be agreed between the institutions.

There are, however, amendments made by the Commission that the Parliament can welcome. These are above all:

l       the broadening of the right of access to any natural or legal person (not just EU citizens as in the present regulation);

l       the environmental provisions stemming from the Aarhus Convention;

l       improved direct access to legislative documents.

 

 

Amendments

The Committee on Constitutional Affairs calls on the Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs, as the committee responsible, to incorporate the following amendments in its report.

 

Amendment 1

Proposal for a regulation

Article 2 – paragraph 5

 

Amendment 2

Proposal for a regulation

Article 2 – paragraph 6

 

Amendment 3

Proposal for a regulation

Article 3 – point a

 

Amendment 4

Proposal for a regulation

Article 4 – paragraph 2 – point c

 

Amendment 5

Proposal for a regulation

Article 4 – paragraph 5

 

Amendment 6

Proposal for a regulation

Article 4 – paragraph 7

 

Amendment 7

Proposal for a regulation

Article 5- paragraph 2

 

Amendment 8

Proposal for a regulation

Article 8 – paragraph 1

 

Amendment 9

Proposal for a regulation

Article 9 – paragraph 7

 

Amendment 10

Proposal for a regulation

Article 9 – paragraph 7 a (new)

 

Amendment 11

Proposal for a regulation

Article 12 – paragraph 1 (new)

 

Amendment 12

Proposal for a regulation

Article 12 – paragraph 1

 

N.B.:For more information on these amendments click here (EN)    (FR) 

From page 4 to 12 you will find all information on the amendments.

 

 

Alessandro Romano
Università degli Studi di Napoli "L'Orientale"
Napoli - Italia