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European Commission - Press release

Vice-President Maroš Šefčovič welcomes vote in European Parliament in favour of extending citizens' rights on access to documents

Brussels, 11 October 2011 - Vice-President Maroš Šefčovič welcomed a vote today in the European Parliament's Constitutional Affairs Committee which brings greater rights for Europe's citizens to access EU documents a step closer. The Committee backed an opinion by Ms Anneli Jäätteenmäki MEP, recommending the adoption of a Commission proposal that would extend existing rights on public access to documents to all institutions, bodies, offices and agencies of the European Union. The proposal would bring current rules into line with the Lisbon Treaty.

Regulation (EC) No 1049/2001 on public access to European Parliament, Council and Commission documents was adopted on 30 May 2001. With the entry into force of the Lisbon Treaty on 1 December 2009, the public right of access was formally extended to documents of all the Union institutions, bodies, offices and agencies. The Court of Justice, the European Central Bank and the European Investment Bank are covered, but only when they exercise administrative tasks.

Vice-President Šefčovič said: "The Commission welcomes this opinion as a step towards increasing the rights of citizens to hold European decision-makers to account. I hope it will pave the way for a two-step approach in improving the rules in this area. In the short term, we need to make the rules compliant with the new Treaty for the benefit of citizens. This will introduce greater transparency in those institutions and bodies which are not yet covered by the rules on access to documents. As a separate step, the European Parliament, the Council and the Commission should agree on a deeper overhaul of the rules."

Proposals for such a deeper overhaul are outlined in an earlier Commission proposal tabled in 2008. This proposal is still at first reading, as the three institutions have not yet reached a consensus on the ideas it sets out for improving and streamlining the procedures for public access to documents.

Contacts :

Antonio Gravili (+32 2 295 43 17)

Marilyn Carruthers (+32 2 299 94 51)

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