Complaints on lack of access to European Commission documents
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Statewatch has made two complaints to the European Ombudsman against the
European Commission, one for having failed to keep a proper public record of
documents and the other for having failed in 2006 to issue its annual report
on access to documents for 2005.
The group considers both cases as maladministration, in breach of Regulation
1049/2001 that sets up the EU bodies public registers of documents.
“Open, transparent and accountable decision-making is the essence of any
democratic system. Secrecy is its enemy and produces distrust, cynicism and
apathy among citizens and closed minds among policy makers. The European
Commission must be called to account for its actions or rather its failures
to act” said Tony Bunyan, Director of Statewatch.
The Regulation says that the European Commission, the Council of the
European Union and the European Parliament have to: “establish a register
which shall be operational by 3 June 2002” with all the documents produced
by the respective institutions. Thus, people can have access to information
regarding the measures adopted.
The indications of the Regulation say that these institutions must establish
a register of documents, with public access, where each document must be
referred to “without delay” with a reference number, the date, the subject
matter and a short description of the document. The Regulation also
stipulates access not only to the documents produced but also for those
received by the three institutions.
The Council of the European Union and the European Parliament have
established public registers with references to their documents that have in
general met the requirements of the Regulation while the same thing is not
valid for the Commission. Its register of documents contains only
legislative texts and adopted Commission reports with no reference to most
documents produced or received by the Commission.
Statewatch’s complaint was accepted by the Ombudsman on 3 October 2006 and
was sent to the Commission asking for their answer by 31 December “at the
latest”. The Commission requested an extension of the deadline first until
28 February 2007 and then until 31 March 2007. The deadline has expired and
the Commission still has not sent any response to the Ombudsman on this
Mr. Baroso, the President of the European Commission claimed that:
“As regards the public registers, Regulation 1049/2001 does not require the
institutions to set up comprehensive registers of all their documents” and
that the operation of comprehensive registers would be impossible.
The second complaint of Statewatch refers to the annual report for 2005
which should have been produced by the European Commission in 2006 as it is
required by the Regulation.
It is not the first time that Statewatch makes complaints against the
European institutions and has already won eight cases lodged against the
Council of the European Union with the European Ombudsman.
Statewatch lodges two complaints against the European
Commission with the European Ombudsman (19.04.2007)