Sinn Féin MEP Matt Carthy has indicated he intends to file a formal complaint with the EU Ombudsman against both the Commission and the Council for their refusal to grant MEPs access to documents on crucial policies such as free trade agreements and taxation.
Carthy said: “The treaties guarantee the right of public access to documents of the EU institutions, with certain exceptions. And EU case law holds that the relevant Regulation aims to ensure public access to the entire content of Council documents, including the political positions taken by Member States.
“Last week Ms O’Reilly addressed MEPs on the Special Committee on Financial Crimes, Tax Evasion and Tax Avoidance (TAX3) on the issue of access to documents, where she informed MEPs she would be referring a Special Report to the European Parliament on failures of transparency in the council’s legislative process.
“She invited MEPs on the TAX3 committee and the previous Panama Papers inquiry committee, who have been denied access to documents of the Council’s Code of Conduct group on Business Taxation, to make an official complaint to the office of the Ombudsman. She also expressed her belief that the lack of transparency regarding corporate tax issues is a result of extensive lobbying.
“Ms O’Reilly also highlighted her introduction this February of a new fast-track procedure for the Ombudsman to deal with complaints over public access to documents of the EU institutions, under which she will deal with such complaints within two months.
“In the TAX3 and Panama Papers committee, we have often been frustrated by the refusal of the Council to provide us with access to documents we request, while the documents we receive from the Commission are heavily redacted. Additionally, it is not really ‘public’ access to documents at all, as access to these documents is restricted to a secret reading room and MEPs are banned from publicly releasing the content of these documents.
“MEPs from across the political spectrum on the TAX3 special committee are discussing the option of making an official complaint to the Ombudsman regarding the failure by the Council to provide documents we have requested access to, and the Commission’s unnecessary heavy redaction of the documents it provides to us.
“It is in the interests of the Irish people to see the positions our government takes in Council discussions.
“I will be participating in this formal complaint through the TAX3 committee, and I also intend to file a separate complaint regarding the Council’s refusal to grant me access to documents regarding discussions on proposals such as public country by country reporting for multinationals.”