On 22 September 2020, German Member of the European Parliament (MEP), Moritz Korner of the Renew Europe Group, wrote a parliamentary question to the European Commission.
MEP Korner asked the Commission “how many questions did it receive from journalists in 2019?” Further, German MEP asked three more pointed questions: Firstly, “how many answers have to be reviewed by the Transparency Committee?” and “of these, how many are given a ruling in favour of the questioner?”
Lastly, MEP Korner enquired “how many are answered by the deadline set?” and “if, on the basis of the questions, the Member States concerned are consulted, in what percentage of cases – broken down by Member State – does each Member State respond to the EU consultation in a timely manner?”
On 27 November, Vice-President and Values and Transparency Commissioner Vera Jourova responded on behalf of the European Commission.
“The Commission receives questions from journalists through numerous channels, including over the phone, in face-to-face meetings, during the daily midday press briefings, press conferences, technical and background briefings and interviews” responded Vice-President and Values and Transparency Commissioner Jourova. She further explained that “questions are addressed to Commissioners, spokespersons, heads of representations and the communication units” and “thousands of questions are answered every year, but the Commission does not keep a tally, as this is impossible”. She also clarified that “the Commission remains by far the EU institution handling the largest number of requests for access to documents under Regulation (EC) No 1049/2001”.
Vice-President and Values and Transparency Commissioner Jourova reported that “in 2019, the requested documents were fully or partially disclosed in almost 78% of the 7 445 cases at the initial stage, and wider or even full access was granted in 53.4% of the 296 cases reviewed at the confirmatory stage” and “in 2019, 8.1% of the initial applications and 11.1% of the confirmatory applications originated from journalists”.
She underlined that “confirmatory requests are dealt with by the Secretariat-General of the Commission to ensure an independent administrative review of the reply given at the initial stage”.
Vice-President and Values and Transparency Commissioner Jourova as regards the second question, she answered, “if a reference is made to the Council’s Working Party on Information, the Commission does not hold any information and/or data concerning the activities of that Working Party, which is a preparatory body of the Council”. In closing, she stated that “if the application for access concerns a document originating from a Member State, the Commission consults the authorities of the Member State concerned under the provision of Article 4(4) and 4(5) of Regulation (EC) No 1049/2001” and “the Commission does not collect any data as regards the time needed for the Member States to respond to the consultation”.
Photo Credit : https://europeanjournalists.org/blog/2020/10/28/takeaways-from-the-online-freelance-seminar-on-22-october/