Civil society petition for better access to documents

9 February 2012

Friends of the Earth Europe and Client Earth, with the support of 19 other civil society organisations including CAN Europe, Corporate Europe Observatory, ECAS, FERN, Greenpeace, Spinwatch, Statewatch and T&E, today sent a petition to the European Parliament asking that they ensure the European Commission complies with its legal obligations to provide systematically better access to documents. Access to documents is not only enshrined in law, it is a prerequisite for lobby transparency and full democratic participation.

The petition highlights the repeated failure of the European Commission to comply with its legal obligations on public access to documents under EU law and the UNECE Aarhus convention on access to environmental information. The petition documents the various failures of the Commission, including to comply with time-limits, to actively disseminate environmental information, to demonstrate that there is no overriding public interest in disclosure, and to comply with decisions of the European Ombudsman. The multiple obstacles faced by civil society organisations when seeking access to documents held by the Commission show a systemic trend towards secrecy rather than disclosure. This trend has significantly hampered the ability of civil society to take part in the policy and decision-making processes in the EU.

We are calling on Members of European Parliament to support the right of access to information and to democratic, balanced and equal participation in decision-making, by investigating this matter and pressuring the European Commission over its repeated failure to comply with its legal obligations.