Public access to European Parliament, Council and Commission documents
Extracts from the report by Michael CASHMAN
Lieu: European Parliament, Brussels
End production: 14/12/2011 First transmission: 14/12/2011
Extracts from statements by Michael CASHMAN (S&D, UK) , EP rapporteur Maroš ŠEFČOVIČ Vice-president and commissioner for inter-institutional relations and administration
The purpose of this Regulation is to set out the principles, conditions and limits governing the right of access to European Parliament, Council and Commission documents provided for in Article 255 of the Treaty establishing the European Community (EC). It also aims to establish rules ensuring the exercise of this right and to promote good administrative practices on access to documents.
Only the original language version is authentic and it prevails in the event of its differing from the translated versions.
||Exterior view of the European Parliament, Strasbourg
||SOUNDBITE (English) By Michael CASHMAN, (S&D, UK) EP rapporteur, " It is not only about access to documents, but hte debate is about pre-condition of democracy. Access to documents is according to the Charter of Fundamental Rights , fundamental to citizens and therefore any exceptions to that right have to defined and justified. Only through transparency can citizens participate in an informed way in a democratic process which is even more important in the current crisis."
||SOUNDBITE (English) By Michael CASHMAN, (S&D, UK) EP rapporteur, " As we know meetings of the Council of ministers currently take place behind close doors. If we know how our ministers and our prime ministers vote in their secret meetings , we would be able to hold them to account in the Natíonal Parliaments. Holding them to account not on how they report but what they say on these meetings and how they vote."
||SOUNDBITE (English) By Michael CASHMAN, (S&D, UK) EP rapporteur, "It is also about building trust between the EU and its citizens, whereby a mixing of concepts from Member States and EU should be avoided and that is why believe at EU level we should become a model for our Member states on transparency."
||SOUNDBITE (English) Maroš Sefcovic , Commissioner for inter-institutional relations and administration."We are the guardians of other fundamental rights such as privacy of individuals , or the protection of intellectual property rights, non of these rights can claim precedence over the others and we must protect them all.3
||SOUNDBITE (English) Maroš Sefcovic , Commissioner for inter-institutional relations and administration."Let me be very clear, the extention of the scope to all institutions bodies , offices and agencies is a legal obligation under the Treaty and therefore should not be controversial. This is why I have suggested a swift and seperate discussion on this rather technical amendment leaving the door open for further discussions on other changes to the regulation. I regret that this pragmatic and constructive two steps approach has not been followed by the Civil liberties Committee and that the Report we are discussing today actually merges the 2 Commission's proposals. This means that the implementation of the legal obligations under the Treaty , the actual creation of a new right for citizens is now being postponed
||SOUNDBITE (English) Maroš Sefcovic , Commissioner for inter-institutional relations and administration."No exception to refuse access would apply to legislative documents, it means we would need to grant access to any draft of legislation and to legal opinions,.The institutions would simply have no space to think and this is going to far in our view and we can not rule out the need to protect a document at least temporarily.
||SOUNDBITE (English) Maroš Sefcovic , Commissioner for inter-institutional relations and administration."Besides protecting legitimate interests and a space to think , we must also ensure that the regulation is used to disclose documents in the public interest and I would underline and repeat in the public interest and this is its ultimate objective. From our experience however, the regulation is regularly misused by lobbists or law firms with a view to obtain information serving their own private interests.3
||SOUNDBITE (English) Maroš Sefcovic , Commissioner for inter-institutional relations and administration." Therefore the Commission proposed some clarification to the scope of the regulation. And this proposals would not affect legitimate requests and in our estimate would not impact on the number of the requests granted. They aim at better protecting public resources and a well functioning administration, but they have now been simply removed from the report with no clear justification."
||SOUNDBITE (English) Maroš Sefcovic , Commissioner for inter-institutional relations and administration."The Commission will look carefully at the amendments that will be voted by this Parliament but let me be very clear, many can not be accepted by the Commission."