Focus on The right of access to information

The right of access to information is an important human right, necessary for the enjoyment of other human rights. It is essential for transparent and accountable government. On 28 September, people all over the world will celebrate the International Day for Universal Access to Information to raise awareness of the right of information and to campaign for open, democratic societies in which there is full citizen empowerment and participation in government.

To mark this occasion, the Publications Office presents a selection of products, initiatives and publications related to access to information.

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EU Open Data Portal

Open data from EU institutions, agencies and bodies

The EU Open Data Portal provides a single point of access to a growing range of data held by the EU institutions, agencies and bodies. By providing free and easy access to data, the portal aims to unleash its economic potential, to help foster the transparency and the accountability of the institutions and other bodies of the EU and to promote social engagement.

Available in all the official languages of the EU

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Summaries of EU legislation

A compass to EU law

Summaries of EU legislation are a very useful tool for citizens to get information on EU legal acts in a quick and easy way. They are addressed to a general, non-specialised audience, so the texts are drafted in concise and jargon-free language. Whether you are an entrepreneur who needs to know about applicable EU law for your business or a student writing a dissertation on EU legal provisions in a particular field, the summaries always provide an excellent entry point into the topics and EU legal acts you are interested in. Currently the summaries cover 32 topics, corresponding to the main policy areas of the EU. The topics include for example ‘Environment and climate change’, ‘Food safety’, ‘Human rights’ and ‘Budget’.

Available in all the official languages of the EU

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PublicAccess.eu

Pilot project

PublicAccess.eu is a pilot project launched in 2014 to facilitate online access to a wider range of unclassified documents held by EU institutions and to increase the transparency of decision-making in the EU. The main objectives of the pilot project are to identify and bring together the relevant unclassified documents, which can be made available to the public in a user-friendly way. Coordinated by the Publications Office, the work on the project will generate a number of interesting deliverables, which will be successively made available on the project website.

Available in English

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Consolidated EU legislation

Tracking the evolution of legal acts

EU legal acts can change over time as a result of successive amendments and corrigenda. With many such changes, it may become difficult to find the provisions that are currently in force. This is why EU legal acts are consolidated — merged with the amending acts, to make the evolution easier to follow. Consolidation means that the successive amendments and corrigenda are incorporated into the legal act. In other words, several legal texts published in different issues of the Official Journal of the European Union are combined together in one easy-to-read document. All consolidated legislation can be found on EUR-Lex — the latest consolidated version is directly available in the search result of the act that has been consolidated. All consolidated versions can be found in the tab ‘Linked documents’ in the notice of the act.

Available in all the official languages of the EU

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Openness, transparency and access to documents and information in the European Union

In-depth analysis

The Treaty of Lisbon updates the terms under which the principles of transparency and openness clarify the right of public access to documents in the European Union. This right is both a fundamental right of individuals and an institutional principle. The revision of Regulation (EC) No 1049/2001, which sets out the arrangements for this, is influenced, to a large extent, by the numerous interpretations from the Court of Justice of the European Union, particularly during the last 5 years. Observation of the practice followed by the EU institutions and the broad lines of the practices followed nationally indicate that EU law needs to undergo extensive revision, with the aim of both leveraging the case-law experience acquired and bringing itself up to date.

Available in English

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Council annual reports on access to documents

Background information and statistical data

The annual reports on access to Council documents provide information on the public register of Council documents. They present the main developments in the Council’s implementation of the regulation on access to European Parliament, Council and Commission documents. The brochures also contain the analysis of requests for public access, as well as the review of complaints submitted to the European Ombudsman and rulings given by the EU courts in cases relating to access to Council documents.

Available in all the official languages of the EU except Irish

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Comparative study on access to documents (and confidentiality rules) in international trade negotiations

Strengthening parliamentary oversight of trade policies

This study provides an overview of the rules guaranteeing access to information in international trade negotiations both in the EU and in selected non-EU countries. It evaluates the existing arrangements on access to information by the European Parliament in view of the provisions included in the Treaty of Lisbon, international norms and agreements, EU case-law and similar rules, arrangements and practices in selected national parliaments.

Available in English

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Perception and awareness about transparency of state aid

Report

This Eurobarometer survey examines the awareness about state aid amongst EU citizens, as well as their perceptions about the transparency of information in this area. Its findings are important to better understand the policy context when applying the EU framework for state aid. Such contextual information is relevant for a policy that seeks to increase transparency to enable companies and citizens to have direct information about aid purposes, amounts and beneficiaries, as well as the results achieved by policy interventions.

Available in English

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Access to and preservation of scientific information in Europe

Report on the implementation of Commission Recommendation C(2012) 4890 final

An important aspect of open science is a move towards open access to publicly funded research results, including scientific publications as well as research data. This report provides an overview of access to and preservation of scientific information in the EU Member States, as well as in Norway and Turkey. It is based on self-reporting by the participating states, as well as cross-referencing with other relevant documents and further desk research.

Available in English

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Transparency in the EU administration

Your right to access documents

The European institutions and bodies make decisions and adopt legislative acts that affect the lives of all the citizens in the EU Member States. Citizens have the right to know who is involved in making these decisions and laws and how and why they are making them. They also have the fundamental right of access to the documents prepared in these activities. This brochure provides a brief overview of these rights.

Available in English, French and German

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