Public access to Council documents: 2021 report

(Source: Council of the EU and European Council)

The Council today approved its annual report on the implementation of Regulation 1049/2001 regarding public access to documents.

Throughout 2021, 24,341 original language documents were added to the register, of which 73.7 %, or 17,933 documents, are public and available to download. On 31 December 2021, the public register listed 460,907 original language documents. Of the total number of original language documents listed in the register, 71.7 % (330,434 documents) were public and available to download.

Enhanced legislative transparency

In 2020 the committee of permanent representatives (Coreper) – composed of the ambassadors of EU member states – decided on an approach to strengthen legislative transparency. One of the decisions was to make all initial negotiating positions of the Council public, either when adopted by Coreper or by the Council in the form of a general approach. In 2021, all 53 of such files have been made public.

Access to documents requests

In 2021, the Council received 2,083 initial requests for access to documents and 44 confirmatory applications. At the initial stage, full access was granted to 8,492 documents (83.3 %) and partial access to 519 documents (5 %). Access was refused to 1,178 documents (11.6 %).

Anyone can request access to documents listed in the public register which are not yet public. Access can only be refused on the basis of certain exceptions which include the need to protect the institution’s decision-making process and the public interest as regards defence and military matters and international relations. If access is refused at the initial stage, a confirmatory application may be submitted.


Regulation 1049/2001 governs the right of access to EU institution documents. It aims to ensure that citizens can exercise their right of access in the easiest possible way.

The report which was adopted today describes trends in requests for access to Council documents in 2021 and reviews complaints to the Ombudsman and rulings handed down by the European courts in cases concerning the institutions’ implementation of the regulation.

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