Swedish bid to put internal papers on Net

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Series Details Vol 7, No.7, 15.2.01, p4
Publication Date 15/02/2001
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Date: 15/02/01

By John Shelley

INTERNAL EU documents will be automatically posted on the Internet if plans put forward by the Swedish presidency are adopted.

In a move which civil liberties groups are hailing as a victory for openness, governments are poised to agree that legislative proposals, provisional agendas and other working papers would be made available on a publicly-accessible website.

"We are not talking about top secret or restricted papers here, but this is still a very positive move," said Tony Bunyan of civil liberties watchdog Statewatch.

Under the plans, expected to be approved by foreign ministers this month or next, papers would be automatically posted on the Web as soon as they are circulated among member states.

If adopted, the proposals would also save time and money. Officials would no longer have to sift through the hundreds of applications they receive each year from citizens seeking documents that have already been classified public.

But Bunyan warns that the plans are not entirely positive and a compromise could affect wider talks on openness. Under the latest version of the proposals Stockholm has reintroduced a rule which would allow individual member states to veto the publication of papers they have authored.

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