|Author (Person)||Shelley, John|
|Series Title||European Voice|
|Series Details||Vol.7, No.30, 26.7.01, p7|
THE Council of Ministers has released ten sensitive documents detailing the inner workings of EU-US relations - four years after they were first requested by a civil liberties group. The papers are significant because they show the extent of cooperation between the Union and the US, and shed light on the question of where key policy decisions are really made, according to Tony Bunyan of UK-based Statewatch, which first asked for them. The agendas are from various meetings of two committees made up of senior officials from both sides of the Atlantic: the 'EU-US task force' and the 'Senior Level Group'. The committees keep open lines of communication on various foreign policy issues in the run up to EU-US summits - not just transatlantic ones. At a meeting in September 1996, for example, they discussed the Bosnian elections, Cuba and the situation in Iran and Libya, among other items.
But Bunyan says the agendas offer only a glimpse of what goes on at these sessions, and that getting access tthe actual documents discussed will require a whole new battle. "All we have done is lift one corner of a rather large page," he said. Since Statewatch first requested the papers in 1997 it has twice had to file official complaints with EU Ombudsman Jacob Söderman. The group complained that it was being refused access to papers which should be freely available to the public, and Söderman has twice upheld their complaints. Statewatch has still only received the agendas for meetings between 1996 and 1998, and campaigners will have to start again with a new request if they want to receive more up to date papers. Said Bunyan: "It has taken us four years battling away just to establish that we can have access to these agendas. It really makes you wonder what kind of people we are fighting against."
The Council finally agreed to release the documents after the watchdog ruled in March, for the second time, tat they could not be kept secret.
The Council of Ministers has released ten sensitive documents detailing the inner workings of EU-US relations - ten years after they were first requested by a civil liberties group.
|Subject Categories||Politics and International Relations|