Petition to European Parliament concerning Commission failures on access to documents

ClienEarth's European Union Aarhus Centre and Friends of the Earth Europe  have addressed a petition to the European Parliament, supported by 19 European civil society organisations from various sectors.

The petition concerns public access to documents, with particular focus on environmental information. It aims to draw the attention of the Parliament on the repeated failure of the European Commission to comply with its legal obligations under Regulation 1049/2001 on Public Access to European Parliament, Council and Commission Documents, the Aarhus Convention and the related Regulation on the Application of the Provisions of the Aarhus Convention to EU institutions and bodies (Regulation 1367/2006).

By documenting the various types of failures that have been encountered by the NGOs over the last several years the petition shows a systemic trend towards secrecy rather than disclosure in the European Commission’s answers to public access to documents requests.

This pattern of behaviour strongly hampers our ability to take part in policy and decision-making processes in the EU. Initiatives to challenge the Commission’s refusal to disclose information, such as complaints to the European Ombudsman or court cases, even when successful, have not triggered the systemic change that is needed in the Commission’s behaviour to ensure greater openness and transparency.

For each type of failure documented in the petition, there is a detailed annex, which lists specific examples of related requests. The Commission’s failures include:

  • Failure to comply with time-limits to reply to access to documents requests;
  • Failure to comply with the Aarhus Convention;
  • Failure to actively disseminate environmental information;
  • Failure to demonstrate that there is no overriding public interest in disclosure;
  • Failure to comply with decisions of the European Ombudsman.

Size 1 MB
Published March 1, 2012
Found in Rule of law