Heremans, Tinne. (2011) Public Access to Documents: Jurisprudence between Principle and Practice (between jurisprudence and recast). Egmont Paper No. 50, September 2011. [Policy Paper]
While jurisprudence is not usually something which tends to arouse the interest of policy-makers, in the debate regarding the revision of Regulation No 1049/2001 on Public Access to Documents it is nonetheless of great importance. Indeed, since the entry into force of Regulation No 1049/2001 ten years ago, the Court has had to rule on a multitude of issues raised by requests for access to documents. In thus interpreting the Regulation, the Court of Justice of the European union has produced a sizeable – not uncontroversial – body of case law which shapes to an important extent the right of public access to documents within the EU. Hence, when decision-makers eventually manage to move beyond the current political deadlock, they will simply be obliged to take into account and respond to these jurisprudential interpretations. With this in mind, this paper provides an overview and critical analysis of the case law on Regulation No 1049/2001. In addition, by clarifying the important considerations underlying the debate on public access to documents, the author hopes to raise policy-makers’ awareness of the crucial interests at stake in this seemingly “marginal” political dossier. Far from questioning the necessity and value of transparency of legislative and administrative processes in a democracy, this paper pleads in favour of “optimal” as opposed to “maximum” openness.
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