The new Article 255 of the Treaty establishing the European
Community gives citizens and residents of the Member States a right of access
to European Parliament, Council and Commission documents. In application of
this provision, on 30 May 2001 the Council and the European Parliament adopted a
regulation concerning public access to the documents of these three institutions laying
down the general principles and limits on such access.
To assist citizens in exercising their rights, this regulation provides that each of the three institutions should provide a document register in electronic form.
The Commission has therefore decided to create a register listing in the first instance certain categories of documents, primarily legislative documents with COM, C and SEC numbers and other categories such as the agendas and minutes of Commission meetings. This register contains references to documents produced since 1 January 2001 only. Coverage will gradually be extended to other categories of documents.
This register supplements the PreLex database of interinstitutional procedures which can be used to search for documents produced by the institutions in drafting Community legislation.
The purpose of this new tool is to inform the public of the existence of the most important documents produced by the Commission. It goes without saying, however, that access is not confined merely to the documents listed in this register. Nor does access to this list of documents prejudice any response to a request for one of the documents on the list, since access may be refused where the release of a document could harm public or private interests protected by the list of exceptions in Article 4 of the Regulation.
For each document the register includes:
- the identifier or reference number,
- the title of the document in the languages in which it is available,
- the date of the document,
- the languages in which the document is available,
- the department responsible for drafting the document.