European Court Allows Access To Legal Opinion

     LUXEMBOURG (CN) – Europe’s highest court ruled that any citizen of the European Union member states has a right to access the documents of a government institution, including legal advice.

     The transparency of the legislative process and the strengthening of democratic rights constitute an “overriding public interest” that justifies disclosure, the Court of Justice ruled.
     The court granted a request by Maurizio Turco, of Italy, to access the documents appearing on the agenda of a European Council meeting, including a legal opinion regarding community standards for asylum applicants.
     The high court set aside the judgment of the Court of First Instance, which ruled for the council, and annulled the council’s decision refusing Turco access to the legal opinion.
     Sweden, Denmark, the Netherlands and Finland supported Turco, while Great Britain, Northern Ireland and the Commission of European Communities backed the council.

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