Today, Right To Know – in collaboration with US access to information NGO Public.Resource.Org (“Public Resource”) – announced they have initiated legal action against the European Commission at the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU).
Right To Know and Public Resource are seeking from the European Commission access to descriptions of certain technical standards agreed by the European Committee for Standardisation (Comité Européen de Normalisation) or “CEN“.
We sought technical public safety standards with the force of law that include the safety of toys, including children’s chemical sets and and those relating to the chemicals present in products such as finger paint.
Late last year, we sought access to these standards via a request under Regulation 1049/2001 (containing Aarhus Convention related amendments). The European Commission refused access to these standards at both the first juncture and after a confirmatory appeal.
Our legal action at the General Court seeks to annul this decision of the Commission to refuse access to these standards.
It is the view of both Right To Know and Public Resource that harmonised technical standards form part of EU law and should therefore be available to any EU citizen – without restriction.
We rely in particular on the decision of the Court of Justice in James Elliott Construction (C-613/14) that “a harmonised standard … and the references to which have been published in the Official Journal of the European Union, forms part of EU law”.
Right To Know Director Gavin Sheridan said: “We believe all EU citizens have a right to access and read all EU law. EU law includes harmonised technical standards – and those technical standards include the safety of toys.”
“We are pleased to be working with Public Resource and its founder Carl Malamud who has a very long and admirable record in working on access to information rights globally.”
“We are both perplexed as to why EU citizens – including parents – are unable to read the standards imposed on toy manufacturers concerning the levels of chemicals to which their children might be exposed. It seems odd to us that EU citizens must currently pay for access to this information – it should be available for free and without restriction on re-use, or dissemination.”
Public Resource is a not-for-profit public charity established in the United States to make government information more broadly available to citizens and to help make governments use the Internet more effectively.
Right To Know is a not-for-profit company established in Ireland that seeks to vindicate the rights of citizens to access information, as part of their fundamental rights to freedom of expression.