ClientEarth continued its campaign on the review of Regulation 1049/2001 on public access to documents. The Council is now examining the file including the first reading position of the European Parliament and should try to find a common position.
We sent, along with the EEB, a letter enshrining our position on the discussion paper the Council’s Danish Presidency had sent to Member States’ Delegations on points they think a compromise could be found. The Presidency made clear that they would not agree to any step backwards compared to the regulation as it stands today. However, we spotted some proposals made by the Commission that the Presidency is willing to discuss that would in fact undermine the right of access and should therefore not be adopted. These are the introduction of a new exception on confidentiality of administrative investigations, extension of the time limit to reply to access to documents requests and taking into account the excessive workload implied by some requests.
One major issue is the alignment of Regulation 1049/2001 with the Aarhus Convention. Some of the exceptions provided under the Regulation are not allowed by the Convention. Yet, nothing has been done within this review to bring about compliance. The presidency is manifesting some willingness to make proposals to remedy the situation. However, these changes will have to be agreed upon by the 27 Member States which is less than likely. Next meetings of the Council working party are on March 9th and March 27th.