Saturday

6th Mar 2021

Frontex and Europol pledge greater access to documents

  • Europol says it will be more proactive in publishing documents for public access (Photo: Europol)

The EU police agency Europol, and its border guard agency Frontex, have pledged to improve public access to documents.

The pledge came after demands first made in 2012 by the London-based civil liberties charity Statewatch.

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"Frontex has always tried to keep as many things secret as it possibly can," said Chris Jones of Statewatch on Friday (15 January).

"They have this understanding of themselves as essentially like a para-military border agency," he said.

But following additional pressure from the European Ombudsman, the two agencies have now agreed to improve such access.

For Frontex, it means creating a centralised public register before the end of the year.

And documents released through freedom of information requests will also be included.

For Europol, it means improving their register by proactively publishing documents and creating more categories.

In a letter sent to European Ombudsman, Frontex chief Fabrice Leggeri said a searchable central document management system would be finalised by the end of the year.

"Documents released as part of public access to documents are also to be made available in the public register of documents," he said.

Frontex currently requires individuals, who file freedom of information requests, to not share the documents due to copyright.

It is not clear if that copyright will be maintained, once Frontex sets up the register.

The scope of what will be included in the registers remains limited to things dealing with legislation and strategy.

But Statewatch's Chris Jones says he is hoping both agencies will also include documents dealing with internal matters.

This includes documents linked to internal working groups, inter-agency working groups, and discussions between units that are in Frontex and Europol.

"The agendas and minutes of those minutes should be public," he said.

If they can't be made public, he noted, "then at the very least they need to be listed so people know what meetings have taken place."

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