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NUMERO 24 - 20/12/2017

 Right to access and the European principle of transparency: is Italy lagging behind?

It is commonly submitted that the constant interaction between the European Union law and the Member States legal systems has so far been a source of intense circulation of principles and legal models. One of the areas most affected by this flow of constructive inputs no doubt pertains to the achievement of transparency in public administrations and, consequently, the enhancement of the right of citizens to access data and information held by public authorities. Originally developed in the Nordic European countries, the right to access progressively spread into the new democracies of the rest of Europe as well as into other continents. Nowadays, constitutions, national laws on freedom of information (FOI) and the jurisprudence of more than 90 countries provide people with instruments very apt for obtaining information from public administrations and public powers. Almost all national laws recognize the access to information as a fundamental civil right which has progressively become a benchmark for open democracies so as to be recognized as a fundamental human right per se, as linked to the freedom of expression of any individual, regardless of his/her status of citizen. In the matter of access and transparency, the European Union has duly adopted a typically twofold approach, on the one hand addressing Member States with specific-sector provisions under the principle of conferral, on the other hand, directly regulating  the European institutions according to Article 42 of the Fundamental Rights Charter and Article 15, paragraph 3, TFEU (former Article 255 TEC). The driving force of the Union primary law has caused a marked “climate change” in the national approach towards the growing demand for transparency and Italy has not remained idle: in the last decades our national system has definitely undergone significant legislative interventions, up to the very recent adoption of European-oriented measures possibly aimed at fully achieving the openness of the public system. The present paper will attempt to answer the question whether Italy has so far fulfilled the standards set by the European law in the matter of transparency and right of freedom of information and if so to what extent. Our study will suitably be triggered by an assessment of the main salient features of the European legislation on the matter in question to move forward on, in a second step, inside our national borders... (segue) 

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