By Joe McNamee

In December 2011, after extensive efforts to gain access to important documents related to the negotiation of the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA), European Digital Rights was left with no option than to make a formal complain to the European Ombudsman.

In a press release today, the European Ombudsman has indicated that the European Parliament was legally within its powers to withhold ACTA documents from the public. However, she criticised the European Union for entering into a confidentiality agreement and

advised the Parliament to ensure that the Commission and the Council do not sign confidentiality agreements in the future that could undermine Parliament’s ability to deliberate openly on such issues.

We welcome the Ombudsman’s clearly stated view that EDRi’s position was correct in principle. However, we believe that the assurances received from the European Parliament’s President that such failures will not be repeated in future are inadequate.

Already in the TTIP negotiations, the European Commission has transmitted confidential “EU restricted” documents to the European Parliament. The documents have not been made public and have been heavily watermarked by the European Commission to ensure that the Parliament can be “blamed” for any subsequent publication of the documents.