Sweden and Finland want to be known as champions of openness in the European Union. They have called for more transparency when Regulation (1049/2001) on public access to documents is being revised.
Here are some of the principles the Finnish government has underlined:
Finland considers that it is important to promote transparency and good administration in the European Union, as well as to increase citizens’ possibilities to obtain information and participate in the decision-making. Finland takes the view that widest possible access should be granted to legislative documents, including documents that have an impact on the legislative process. Also, citizens must be given information on the Union and its activities in a more user-friendly way.
When the Swedish government responded to the EU Commission’s Green Paper, Minister of Justice Beatrice Ask emphasized that the revision was an opportunity to advance the cause of transparency in the European Union.
We have seen how Sweden and Finland have chosen to position themselves regarding openness or transparency in the European Union.
The basic treaties are the most important documents in the European Union, even if the Reform Treaty or Lisbon Treaty is not called a Constitution.
Nobody can understand the European Union as a whole with the help of only the amendments contained in the new EU Treaty and the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union. The new and the present treaties have to be consolidated in order to offer the reader even a chance to understand the basic rules of the Union. In this case the consolidated version will show the present treaties updated with the proposed amendments.
This is the most important communication task for the European Union for quite a while. If the European Union institutions and the member state governments want to retain any credibility concerning their rules and words on transparency, openness and access to information, they have to publish the consolidated Reform Treaty at once.
The Swedish and the Finnish governments have these two choices:
First, the governments should convince the Council of the EU to publish the complete consolidated treaties on its web site in all the official languages of the European Union. Only this guarantees equal treatment of all the citizens of the Union and information accessible to all. Only instant publication gives the citizens correct, sufficient and user-friendly information to understand and discuss the proposed treaty changes. Web publishing can be done instantly and possible later precisions can be added in real time. Printed compilations may follow later.
If the Council does not publish the consolidated treaties at once, Sweden, Finland and every government with a true belief in openness has to make them accessible to its own citizens, now. The same recipe should be followed: instant web publication; print may follow.
There are two possibilities for the governments: Convince the Council or publish yourself.
Finland wants to promote transparency in the EU; Ministry of Justice, 5 July 2007; http://www.vn.fi/
The response of Finland to the Commission’s Green Paper on the Revision of the Regulation on Public Access to Documents held by the institutions of the European Community; Ministry of Justice; http://www.om.fi/en/
Avoimuus ja Euroopan unioni; Valtioneuvosto; http://www.valtioneuvosto.fi/
EU; Avoimuus; Vihreä kirja yleisön oikeudesta tutustua yhteisöjen toimielinten hallussa oleviin asiakirjoihin annetun asetuksen tarkistamisesta; EU-ministerivaliokunta 1.6.2007
Öppenhet och EU; http://www.regeringen.se/
Sverige fortsätter att arbeta för ökad öppenhet inom EU; Regeringskansliet, pressmeddelande 6.7.2007; http://www.regeringen.se/