4th July 2014

More EU documents to become accessible after ECJ ruling

The Court of Justice of the EU ruled on 3 July that EU institutions must demonstrate that the disclosure of a document effectively damages public interest in order to deny its publication. The ruling came after a 5-year long conflict of a Dutch MEP with the Council over the disclosure of an internal Council document analyzing the so-called Swift agreement between the EU and the US during its negotiation. The Council denied the MEP access to the document stating that it was an internal document and its publishing could harm EU´s negotiating position. Now the Court ruled that the institution must demonstrate a specific and actual damage to be done by a document´s publication, it must be reasonably foreseeable and must not be purely hypothetical. Documents involving international agreements and negotiations are not to be exempt from the publication automatically. The ruling comes in time of another EU-US agreement, this time involving a much bigger scope of questions – the TTIP, the negotiations of which have been under criticism for lack of transparency. In the last term, the EP sought to reform the EU transparency rules by introducing even more open governance. The Commission, however, backed by the Council tried to tighten the rules for “special-merit documents”. The stalemate could be overcome with the new Commission and new EP, but Jean-Claude Juncker, the Commission President-nominee, is known not to be advocate of greater transparency.

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Members of the American Chamber of Commerce in the Czech Republic