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[FYI] (Fwd) [EFIL] Council Decisions undermine discussions

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To: office@statewatch.org
From: Statewatch <statewatch-off@geo2.poptel.org.uk>
Date sent: Tue, 20 Mar 2001 14:01:38 +0000
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Subject: [EFIL] Council Decisions undermine discussions

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Council Decisions:

1) gives EU member states a "veto" over access to documents
2) new Solana classification code will "contaminate" access

In an extraordinary move the General Affairs Council of the Council of
the European Union adopted (as "A" points, without debate) two more
major changes to the 1993 Decision of access to EU documents - these
follow the now infamous "Solana Decision" in July last year (formally
adopted 14.8.00). Both pre-empt the discussions on the new code of
access to documents which has to be agreed by the Council, Commission
and the European Parliament (under Article 255). The European
Parliament was not consulted on either of these Decisions - although
the parliament does not have to be consulted it might have been
expected to have been in the context of the current discussions and
the concept of "loyalty" between the institutions.

The first Decision covers making public the full text of some Council
documents automatically which is a positive move. But the same
Decision gives EU governments (member states) a right to "veto" access
by citizens of documents submitted by them to policy-making
discussions in the Council.

The second Decision completely changes the Council's classification
codes to meet NATO demands. Although it is being presented as only
covering "Top Secret", "Secret" and "Confidential" documents it also
covers the lowest level of classified documents, "Restricted", and
completely redefines it. It also extends classifications to all areas
of EU activity.

Tony Bunyan, Statewatch editor, comments:

"These Decisions by the Council undermine the discussions on the new
code of access. The Council has used the "space" left before a new
code is adopted - whenever that will be - to protect the interests of
governments and NATO over the citizens' right to know.

The European Parliament now has to think seriously whether the Council
is going to honour the commitment in the Amsterdam Treaty and whether
it is going to be possible to find a "compromise" solution to the new
code of access which will not sell citizens, civil society and
democratic accountability down the river."



for full-text of Decisions, analysis and background.

For further information contact:

00 44 208 802 1882
or e-mail:

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