Access to environmental information agreed

EU council and MEPs both claim victory in conciliation talks on public information access

The final text of a directive on public access to environmental information has been agreed, with the council of ministers and the parliament both claiming victories for their cause. The new law will replace a 1990 directive and is the first in a package of three directives aimed at implementing the Århus convention.

The council got its way over the timescale within which public institutions can respond to information requests - cementing the Commission's original proposal of one month, which may be extended by another month in exceptionally complicated cases. Under amendments pursued by the council, public bodies may also charge fees to cover administrative costs of collecting information. Higher charges may be levied for companies wishing to obtain data that can then be sold or used commercially.

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