Currently, meeting minutes are often not kept (or not consistently kept) by European Union (EU) officials in relation to certain institutional meetings, such as Working Groups at the Council or trilogues. This seems to be an easy way to escape public scrutiny and, moreover, a significant failure in the context of an access to documents regime.
In particular, requests made on AsktheEU.org (an Access Info Europe initiated platform for requesting documents from EU institutions) have revealed that the Council of the European Union was not always consistent about record-keeping, which is of concern as it makes it more difficult for national parliaments, citizens, and civil society to keep a track of the decision-making process and to hold the Council to account.
For example, the Council was sent two requests asking for the minutes of the Working Group on Company Law meetings of 12 July 2013 and 17 September 2013 respectively. The Council replied to one request stating that minutes “had not been produced” and to another request saying that they “had not been issued”.
In another case, a requester asked for the legal opinions given to the Council with regards to the terrorist listing of the Iranian People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran and Palestinian Hamas organisations. The Council responded stating that it did not hold this information as the legal opinions in this case had only been oral in nature and had not been recorded.
All this points towards a potential lapse with respect to principles of good public administration.
The Clinic students will work towards promoting principles of good public administration within the EU institutions.
Access Info Europe is a human rights organisation dedicated to promoting and protecting the right of access to information in Europe as a tool for defending civil liberties and human rights, for facilitating public participation in decision making, and for holding governments accountable.
Lead Scientific Advisor
Daniel Sarmiento, Professor of EU and Administrative Law, Universidad Complutense