Application to the General Court regarding access to advice from the Council’s Legal Service

ClientEarth lodged a case with the General Court against the Council for refusing to grant us access to one of its legal service’s advice on the admissibility of the amendments proposed by the European Parliament within the review of Regulation 1049/2001 on access to documents held by EU institutions. According to another document of the Council, the legal opinion in question affirms that most of the amendments proposed by the EP to the Commission’s proposal are inadmissible. Yet, they were aiming at increasing transparency within the decision-making process of EU institutions and at broadening the scope of the right of access. The Council is withholding this document in total breach of the Court of Justice of the EU’s case-law in which it has ruled in recent cases (joined cases C -39/05 and 52/05 P) that such legal advice adopted within legislative processes should be made publicly accessible. Some of the reasons put forward by the Court is that “it is precisely openness in this regard that contributes to conferring greater legitimacy on the institutions in the eyes of European citizens and increasing their confidence in them by allowing divergences between various points of view to be openly debated.” And that “Openness … contributes to strengthening democracy by allowing citizens to scrutinize all the information which has formed the basis of a legislative act. The possibility for citizens to find out the considerations underpinning legislative action is a precondition for the effective exercise of their democratic rights.”

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