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Aarhus Convention amendment on access to public information worries business

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On-going work in the context of the Aarhus Convention on access to information, public participation in decision-making and access to justice in environmental matters has raised some concerns about privacy. BUSINESSEUROPE recently published a press release warning that if the proposal is approved at the Meeting of the Parties to the Convention (MOP-4) on 29 June – 1 July 2011 in Moldova, it would have far-reaching negative impacts on European industry.

The Working Group of the Parties of the Aarhus Convention adopted a proposal to work on ensuring access by the public to “environmental information held by the private sector” at its meeting in February 2011. BUSINESSEUROPE believes that such a proposal would be an incursion into the realm of privacy and would go against the European Community law concerning confidentiality and data protection (Directive 95/46 and Regulation 45/2001). It also believes that the proposal is inherently contrary to the Aarhus Convention, which is about promoting access to information held by public authorities. Allowing direct public demand to information held by companies would be unjustified and would encourage unfair commercial practices and slow down innovation.

CEMBUREAU fully supports the position of BUSINESSEUROPE.