The General Court of the European Union ruled on Tuesday that the EU Council must make countries’ positions on the EU’s access to documents reform available to citizens.
The case was brought forward by access to information campaign, Access Info Europe. Executive Director of the campaign, Helen Darbishire, said “Public debate is essential before legislation is adopted. This ruling means that the European public will be better informed about and have a say in the decisions that affect our everyday lives.”
The Council had argued “If written contributions were made fully accessible to the public … positions of the delegations become entrenched, since those delegations would lose some of their ability … to justify before their public a compromise solution, which may differ from their initial position.” However, the Court found that the Council had failed to show how citizens’ access to this information would jeopardize the decision-making process.
The day before the ruling was made, Access Info published “The Secret State of EU Transparency Reforms” which demonstrates the need for greater transparency from the Council to allow for meaningful public participation in the formation of EU legislation.
This ruling is an important victory, demonstrating the widespread need for transparency and access to information for decisions to be made well. Aid transparency is just one example of many examples where this is the case, and it is promising to see people demand transparency in all areas of government activity.