One thing that’s great in the community of e-democracy activists is their openness to sharing their innovations.
AsktheEU.org is the result of such willingness to share among citizens in Spain and Britain. It’s a platform for information requests that is the work of a human rights organisation based in Madrid, Access Info Europe, which was created borrowing the idea from mySociety’s British website WhatDoTheyKnow.com. The website provides an efficient way for EU citizens and residents to make information requests from the EU itself. It’s a much needed tool to make the EU more accessible and recent updates to the website have taken the project one step closer to that goal.
In its essence the website facilitates public information requests whereby citizens and residents can exercise their right to ask for documents from EU institutions. This right was established by the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (Article 15) and by the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union(Article 42), and what’s important to note – also non-citizens and non-residents can make information requests but they do not have the right to appeal to courts (yet they can appeal to the EU Ombudsman and challenge initial turndowns). The website helps with locating the right EU institutions for your information request and has done the tricky legal work for you as well – all requests automatically include the necessary phrases so that the requests are processed without issue.
The recently added features make it easier for civil society to bring attention to their information requests – they can create campaign pages and include a widget on their own website, which can be used to declare interest in a particular request. Just the same, it’s possible to follow requests in campaign pages as can be seen below with a request on contacts with industry lobbies during EU-US trade negotiations (you can also have a look at their short video explaining how to use the main site as well as these new features).
AsktheEU.org is well equipped to create a more informed European public – it stores information requests publicly, helps to avoid repeating the same questions, as well as provides a way how to draw attention to information requests with wider public significance. What remains is for the site to become the central channel through which information requests are made, only then can a truly useful database be created.
The publication was performed in the framework of the project “PROVIDUS – a partner of state in policy planning and policy making process“.
Project is financed by Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway in framework of NGO Activity Support Measure.
NGO Activity Support Measure is financed with financial support from EEA Financial Mechanism and Republic of Latvia.