Comparative law

International legislation

Legislation in Spain


In this case, the Access Info Europe association applied to the Council of the European Union for access to information regarding proposed amendments and re-drafting submitted by various member states affecting European Parliament and Council regulations regarding public access to European Parliament, Council and Commission documents. The Council granted partial access to the requested document including the proposals but without permitting identification of the member state that had formulated the particular proposal, since it considered that releasing this information could cause significant damage to the decision-making process (established in article 4, section 3, paragraph 1 of Regulation 1049/2001). The Court noted that the object of the Regulation is to guarantee the fullest possible access to documents, especially when an institution is acting in its legislative capacity. The Court reached the conclusion that, in a system based on the principle of democratic legitimacy, the Council had not sufficiently demonstrated, in fact or in law, that releasing the information regarding the identity of the authors of the proposals would cause significant damage to the legislative procedure, or the need to preserve the identity of the delegations or authors.

Mr. Turco submitted a request to the Council for access to documents mentioned in the agenda of the ‘Justice and Home Affairs’ Council meeting, among them an opinion of the Council’s legal service on a proposal for a council directive laying down minimum standards for the reception of applicants for asylum in member states. The Council refused his request on the grounds that, firstly, the disclosure of this legal advice could create uncertainty regarding the legality of the legislative act and, secondly, that systematic disclosure could undermine the independence of its legal service. The Court of First Instance rejected the appellant’s appeal, declaring the Council right in its interpretation of the exception to access (article 4, section 2 of Regulation 1049/2001). In contrast, the Court of Justice determined that article 4 must be construed as aiming to protect an institution’s interest in seeking legal advice and receiving frank, objective and comprehensive advice. And with regard to uncertainty over legality, the Court pointed out that it is precisely transparency that helps to give institutions greater legitimacy in the eyes of European citizens. The court found that this general and abstract claim over uncertainty was insufficient to refuse the release of the said opinions.

The appellants requested information regarding a deforestation project to be carried out by the Chilean Government that could be damaging to the environment and hamper the sustainable development of Chile. According to the appellants, their request was refused without justification. The sentence declares that there is no need to demand information from the applicant that confirms that they will be directly affected or that they have a specific interest and that, to guarantee protection of the right to access to information, an administrative procedure is required that is suited to processing and resolving applications for information and which establishes deadlines for resolving and supplying information.

The appellant, a consumer information association, requested authorisation from the European Commission to consult the administrative file concerning a decision it regarded as crucial in relation to defending consumers’ interests. In the judgment, the court analyses whether there was a need to specifically and individually assess each of all the documents to determine the applicability of the exceptions to the right of access in order to ascertain the information to which access would and would not be given.

In this case, the applicant alleged that he was suffering from a disease as a consequence of his exposure to chemicals during tests conducted at Porton Down. The court found that there was a positive obligation to provide an effective and accessible means for all applicants to access “all relevant and appropriate information”.

This judgment resolves an appeal presented by the Council of the European Union against the judgment of the Court of First Instance of the European Communities annulling the Council’s decision to refuse Ms. Heidi Hautala access to a report of a working group. The Court of Justice upheld the judgment of the Court of First Instance on the grounds that the Council had not submitted any reason to show why an institution should be able to keep secret the items of information contained in a document which are not covered by the exceptions of article 4, section 1, of Decision 93/731.

In this case, the applicant sought access to the minutes of a meeting on special taxes, a request that was refused by the Commission on the grounds that disclosure of the documents in question could undermine the protection of confidentiality requested by the legal persons that had supplied the information. In this judgment, the Court repeated its jurisprudence on the restrictive interpretation that must be made of the exceptions detailed in Decision 94/90, which must be interpreted and applied strictly. The judgment assesses the moment when the application was presented and whether, at that time, any injury may have been done to the participants in the meeting who expressed their points of view.

This judgment resolves an action for annulment brought by the Netherlands and the European Parliament against the Council of the European Union. The appeal was in relation to Council Decision 93/731/EC of 20 December 1993 regarding access to Council documents and other rules and regulations on access to information. As the Community legislature had not as yet approved general rules on the right of public access to documents held by the Community institutions, these institutions had to adopt measures concerning the processing of these applications by virtue of their power of internal organisation, even though they may have erga omnes effects.

In this case, the applicants submitted a request to the authorities for information regarding the risks to health and welfare arising from environmental pollution. Italy was found to have failed to provide information on risk factors and on how to proceed in the event of an accident at a chemical factory in the area where the applicants lived.

In this case, a British citizen had requested access to case records classified by the authorities as ‘confidential’ that contained information regarding the foster parents with whom he had lived and who had ill-treated him. The Court found that people in the applicant’s situation have a vital interest, protected by the Convention, in receiving the information they need to learn about and understand their childhood and their early development, and that the procedure in this specific case for guaranteeing access to information in the United Kingdom was inadequate.