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ARTICLE 19 calls on EU to improve transparency

(ARTICLE 19/IFEX) - The following is a 1 August 2007 ARTICLE 19 press release:

ARTICLE 19 Calls on European Union to Improve Transparency
Responding to an official consultation, ARTICLE 19 has urged the European Union to bring its access to information rules in line with international standards.

The EU is currently undertaking a review of Regulation 1049/2001, which governs access to documents held by the institutions of the European Community. ARTICLE 19 has made a submission to the Commission, identifying areas in which the Regulation currently falls short of international standards, including those recommended by the Council of Europe. The submission further urges simplification of the legal regime for access to information in the EU. Among the key points made are:
- Regulation 1049/2001 should be integrated with Regulation 1367/2006, concerning environmental information, to create a single legal document on access to information.
- This merged regulation should adopt the stronger safeguards of the right of access contained in Regulation 1367/2006, including by guaranteeing a right of access to "information" rather than "documents", and by covering all EU institutions, bodies, offices and agencies, not merely the EC institutions.
- All exceptions to the general duty to provide access should be made subject to a public interest override, requiring the body which holds the information to weigh the likely harm from disclosure against the public interest in granting the request.
- More emphasis should be placed on making information available to the public proactively, without the need for a request. Where possible, information should be published on the Internet. The organisation and accessibility of the existing websites should be improved.

The submission can be downloaded at http://www.article19.org/pdfs/analysis/eu-foi-07.pdf

ARTICLE 19 is an independent human rights organisation that works globally to protect and promote the right to freedom of expression. It takes its name from Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which guarantees free speech.

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