Court of justice of the European Union

European Court of Justice rules in favour of greater transparency of the Council of the EU

Madrid/Luxembourg, seventeen Oct 2013 — In a case introduced by Access Facts Europe, the European Courtroom of Justice now turned down arguments by the Council of the European Union that it should really be ready to continue to keep top secret the identities of Member States producing proposals in the context of negotiations on upcoming EU laws.

This is the final ruling – by the maximum courtroom of the EU – in an critical lawful fight for increased transparency of the legislative method in Brussels in line with the EU treaties which demand the European Parliament and the Council to “ensure publication of the paperwork relating to the legislative procedures”.

The Council of the EU had fought to defend its policy of releasing legislative drafting paperwork with the names of Member States tabling amendments blacked out.

Access Facts Europe won accessibility to the document it requested in advance of the General Courtroom in March 2011 but the Council appealed, joined by the Czech Republic, France, Greece, Spain and the Uk.

The European Parliament, arguing in favour of openness of the legislative method, joined the case in an historic move to assist Access Facts Europe in its quest for wider accessibility to paperwork.

The European Courtroom of Justice now turned down the Council’s arguments that it should really be ready to withhold info from the general public in purchase to preserve the “effectiveness of the legislative choice-producing process”. The ECJ verified that “the mere point that the request for disclosure was created at a quite early phase in the legislative method was not ample to make it possible for the application of that exception”.

“This is a significant victory for transparency and participatory democracy,” commented Helen Darbishire, Government Director of Access Facts Europe. “If the Council applies this ruling to all related paperwork, this would finally supply a related degree of transparency at the EU degree as one would typically discover in countrywide legislative processes.”

This ruling suggests that customers of the general public at the countrywide degree will discover it less difficult to know what is heading on in Brussels, and will make it less difficult for countrywide parliaments to follow and scrutinise the EU legislative method, and in individual the positions taken by delegations of Member States.

Onno Brouwer, the attorney representing Access Facts Europe, said “A normative option has been created in the EU Treaty for more transparency and legitimacy of the EU choice producing. Generating the EU legislative method more clear is important to enhance the acceptance by the EU citizens of EU laws that binds them, and to make it possible for for accountability of Member Point out positions taken in that context. A single often forgets that Member States are important actors in the EU legislative process”.

Helen Darbishire added: “We call on the Council to respect this ruling and to go a stage further by henceforth proactively publishing paperwork containing legislative drafting positions of Member States on the Council’s general public register as before long as they are established, as this will make it possible for the general public to follow the choice producing method.”

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