735th meeting – 20 December 2000
Item 1.5a

Rapporteur on information policy (RAP-INF)
a. Report on the implementation of Resolution Res(2000)2 on the Council of Europe's information strategy
(Resolution Res(2000)2, RAP-INF(2000)3 rev, 8, 9, 10, 11 and 14)
The Deputies
1.         took note of the report by their Rapporteur on information policy as reproduced in document RAP-INF(2000)14;
2.         in this connection, welcomed the action and initiatives taken since the adoption of Resolution Res(2000)2 on the Council of Europe's information strategy, and invited their Rapporteur on information policy to develop the dialogue and co-operation established on the subject between the four main Council of Europe bodies in order to pursue the active and effective implementation of Resolution Res(2000)2 in co-operation with the Secretary General;
3.         took particular note of the steps taken by the Committee of Ministers Secretariat in line with the Committee of Ministers information policy and the guidelines proposed for the future, as set out in documents RAP-INF(2000)3 revised, 10 and 11, and encouraged the Secretariat to pursue its work along the lines indicated, in co-operation with the Chair and the Rapporteur on information policy;
4.         took note of the stage reached in the implementation of Resolution (1999)9 on the status of Council of Europe Information Offices, and renewed their appeal to the member states concerned for the resolution to be fully implemented as soon as possible;
5.         noted that further to the decision of principle taken by the Secretary General and the favourable opinion of the member states recorded at the meeting of 8 December 2000 held under the aegis of the Rapporteur on information policy, publication of the Council of Europe's official gazette would cease as from January 2001;
6.         took note of the Secretariat report on application of the procedure for granting public access to documents issued with a security classification adopted at their 641st meeting (15 and 18 September 1998), as reproduced in document RAP-INF(2000)9, and approved the measures proposed in this respect by their Rapporteur on information policy in document RAP-INF(2000)8;
7.         accordingly decided, as from 1 January 2001, to carry out a new policy of access to Committee of Ministers documents, based on the following principles:
i. documents not subject to any particular classification would be public;
ii. documents classified “restricted” would be declassified a year after being issued;
iii. documents classified “confidential” would be declassified ten years after being issued;
iv. documents classified “secret” would be declassified thirty years after being issued;
8.         decided to apply this policy to all Committee of Ministers documents with the exception of those concerning “human rights” and “monitoring” meetings (which would continue to be covered by the present rules until specific decisions were taken with regard to them), subject to compliance with the rules in force on the protection of personal data;
9.         decided, in accordance with the principles set out in decisions 7 and 8 above, to declassify as of 1 January 2001 all documents classified “confidential” issued prior to 31 December 1990 and all documents classified “restricted” issued prior to 31 December 1999, except those concerning “human rights” and “monitoring” meetings;
10.       decided that as from 1 January 2001 explanatory memoranda, which are drawn up under the Secretariat's responsibility to make Council of Europe conventions and recommendations easier to understand, will be made public at the same time as the conventions and recommendations they accompany;
11.       invited their Rapporteur on information policy to pursue his efforts to extend the above policy of access to documents to the Council of Europe as a whole, with a view to framing a consistent policy of access to the Organisation's archives based on the principles established in Recommendation (2000)13 on a European policy on access to archives;
12.       decided to communicate the report by their Rapporteur on information policy, at the same time as these decisions, to the Parliamentary Assembly, the European Court of Human Rights, the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of Europe, the bodies in charge of the Council of Europe partial agreements and all steering committees. 



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