statewatch-off on 11 Oct 2000 02:32:01 -0000

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<nettime> The EU and open governments - a leauge table

EXCLUSIVE REPORT: Statewatch Audit on EU openness shows 
Germany and France pushing for greater secrecy and the UK  
'sitting on the fence'. 

The Council of the European Union has drafted its position on the  
new code of public access to EU documents (effectively rules on  
freedom of information in the EU). This is in response to the new  
code proposed by the European Commission. The Council's  
"common position" represents the views of the governments of the 
15 EU member states.  

Statewatch has carried an Audit of the amendments proposed by  
the member states to the Council's draft position. Each country is 
ranked according to whether their proposals would provide for  
greater public access to information or an increase in EU secrecy. 
It shows that Germany and France lead the way in calling for even 
greater secrecy, the UK is "sitting on the fence" and Denmark,  
Netherlands, Finland and Sweden are trying to improve the  
Council's draft common position. 

out		Denmark  		
left      Netherlands
left      Finland
left      Sweden
left      Italy
left      Spain
left      Greece
left      UK
left      Ireland
left		Portugal
left		Luxembourg
left		Austria
left		France
out		Germany		[most pro-secrecy]

[The table is based on the proposals made by each member state  
and an "eight key criteria test" - for details see full story.] 

The Council's position is to be adopted at the General Affairs  
Council on the 20 November. Those hoping for greater openness  
and with it an increase in democratic standards may be  
disappointed, since as it stands the Council's position is worse  
than the Commission's proposal. Tony Bunyan, Statewatch editor, 

left		"It seems for most EU governments 'openness' makes good  
'spin' but they do not really believe in it - as the Council has 
said too much openness "could fuel public discussion"."

["Could fuel public discussion" was the reason given to Mr Bunyan 
when he was refused access by the Council General Secretariat 
to the document containing the Council's draft position and the  
member states proposals. Mr Bunyan's application for the  
document was made under the existing code of access - it would  
not even fall within the scope of the new code and access could  
be automatically refused with the justification that the EU  
instiutions need "space to think". The Council's draft common  
position was leaked to Statewatch] 

The exclusive Statewatch Audit and analysis is available 
from Statewatch News Online, URL: 


In a separate but not unrelated development, the Swedish  
government has joined the Netherlands and the European  
Parliament in calling for legal action against the Council following  
their decision to amend the existing code of access in July to  
accommodate NATO demands for greater secrecy in security and 
"non-military crisis management" cooperation (the "Solana  
Decision"). Comprehensive background is available on the  
Statewatch website. 

OTHER EU NEWS: Fair Trials Abroad criticises increasing  
imbalance between EU security agenda and the protection of civil  

In response to the European Commission's communication on    
the EU's programme of measures to implement the principle of EU- 
wide mutual recognition of judgements and court orders in criminal 
cases. FTA set out their ongoing concern about the effect on  
suspect's rights and civil liberties. They also call for an immediate  
halt to EU legislation that increases "international law enforcement 
powers" until safeguards are in place. Steven Jakobi, Director of  
FTA commented: 

"The Post Tampere process is currently perpetuating and  
increasing the imbalance between "Security" matters of  
prosecution and crime prevention on the one hand, and "Freedom" 
matters of defence and the protection of civil liberties on the other. 
The very fabric of Justice is at stake. We would urge both 
national and European Parliamentarians to oppose any increase 
in International law enforcement powers, under whatever guise 
they appear, until visible progress is made in safeguarding 
Citizens rights". 

Full story and background to the Council's mutual recognition 
programme are available on Statewatch News Online. 

 Statewatch: Monitoring the state and civil liberties in Europe 

PO Box 1516, London N16 0EW 

0044 20 8802 1882 

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