10 May 2012

A Matter of Confidence: The Right of Access to Documents of EU Institutions

In the latest ksnh::law blog posting titled "EU About To Lock Away Their Documents More Easily Than Ever?" my colleague Axel Horns discusses the poor level of information transparency within the EU legislative process, starting from Article 2 (1) of the Regulation No 1049/2001 of the European Parliament and of the Council of May 30, 2001 reading

Any citizen of the Union, and any natural or legal person residing or having its registered office in a Member State, has a right of access to documents of the institutions, subject to the principles, conditions and limits defined in this Regulation.
Clearly, important EU political actors try to create as little publicity as possible by amending current transparency rules.

Prominent examples of the EU's closed-door approach towards legislative and administrative decision-making from the IP field include
The latter aspect was illustrated by Antonio Pizzoli in a comment referring to the following EU documents classified LIMITE, all of which being crucial to the future EU Unified Patent Court:
  • Draft agreement on the European Union Patent Jurisdiction - compatibility of the draft agreement with the Opinion 1/09 (21.10.2011, pdf)
  • Draft Agreement on the creation of a Unified Patent Court - Preparation of the Competitiveness Council on 5 December 2011 (01.12.2011, pdf)
  • Draft Agreement on the creation of a Unified Patent Court - Presidency compromise text (06.12.2011, pdf)
Before this background, it will be very interesting to see what the soon to be expected decision on new EU freedom of information rules will look like.

From a more global standpoint, one thing is crystal clear: The ongoing deep crises of the European Union is not only a monetary and financial crisis but also a crisis of confidence, which is enhanced by the EU's ongoing attempts to as muchg as possible exclude its citizens and the informed public from the decision-making process. 

While many European citizens might not be overly interested in EU legislation and thus just don't care about the above-sketched problem, especially those benevolent, multi-lingual, politically and culturally skilled and high-qualified people are discouraged by the above practise that are urgently needed by the EU as multipliers to increase the acceptance, respect, and confidence among its citizens. 

(Photo: (C) 2009 by glsims99 via Flickr and licensed under the terms of a CC license)