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Old stories, new stories: Fight for EU transparency and for EU documents

I haven’t been blogging much over here lately, because of my new job at the EU Office of Transparency International in which my digital attention is currently focused on this website and contributions to this Twitter account

Still, this wouldn’t keep me from blogging about other issues (like EU fisheries policy) if during my free hours I would not work on finishing my PhD on EU information flows for which I have been following the early phases of the Common Fisheries Policy reform. I hope to get the first final draft of my thesis done in the next two weeks, and to finalise it following comments from my supervisor as soon as possible.

In the context of this academic research, I had been requesting documents from the EU Commission in July and September 2011 (i.e. last year), documents which I first did not get at all and later got only in redacted partial versions.

In November 2012, I finally went to complain to the EU Ombudsman, a case which is ongoing since then, with several letters exchanged between the Ombudsman and the Commission, and between the Ombudsman and me.

I basically had to explain why I disagree with the Commission that by providing me with partial access to redacted versions, its duties under the EU access to documents regulation had not been properly fulfilled. Today I received a letter via email from the Ombudsman’s office that they have been inspecting the European Commission recently to study my case, so it looks like we are getting closer to a final result.

I therefore assume that the finalisation of my PhD thesis and the finalisation of my case might fall together – the question is whether I can still report the Ombudsman case in my annexes or whether this will be for a follow-up. That would be almost 1 1/2 years after I first requested the 1st document that is part of this complaint…

In any case, it proves my starting assumption for the PhD thesis right that personal networks are much more important to get relevant EU Commission documents in a timely fashion than official channels provided by the law – something I also experience now in my new job. Quod erat demonstrandum, I suppose.

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