Rules protecting EU citizens’ access to information must be strengthened and better implemented if we are to protect our health and environment, ClientEarth told the petition committee of the European Parliament.
Anaïs Berthier, senior lawyer at ClientEarth, said: “The political context of today clearly shows that EU institutions need to make their decision-making process transparent and act in an accountable way to create the trust in the EU that is cruelly lacking.”
Anaïs presented at a public hearing on transparency and freedom of information held by the Committee on Petitions – described as the bridge between EU citizens and the EU institutions.
The EU treaties guarantee all Europeans the right to write to the European Parliament about problems they encounter in their everyday lives, as long as the issues fall within the field of activity of the European Union.
How can better access to information to protect environment?
She argued that the EU’s Regulation on Public Access to Documents need not be overhauled. But if citizens’ rights are to be protected, it must be interpreted in a way more consistent with the Aarhus Convention.
This international convention, of which the EU is a signatory, protects access to information, public participation in decision-making and access to justice. However, it is insufficiently reflected in the Public Access to Documents regulation and the European courts have applied it incoherently.
Meanwhile, the Aarhus Regulation, which applies the international convention to EU institutions, agencies and bodies, should be reviewed to ensure the principles of the convention are properly applied.