Published On: May 29th, 2024

Tips on how to submit a requests for access to public information in Europe

According to their own transparency laws – which vary from state to state – European countries have a certain time limit within which the authorities must respond to requests for access to information submitted by citizens and civil society organisations. As pointed out by Civio, in practice, compliance with transparency laws is often insufficient due to lack of resources, arbitrary application of limits, or lack of enforceability by administrations.

This is why in 2023 EDJNet members engaged in a coordinated campaign of submission of similar requests for access to information in many European countries. The goal was to test and compare the effectiveness of the various FOIA laws and mechanisms, as well as to gather useful journalistic information on a number of issues. A significant number of requests made by EDJNet members were answered late, some were only partially answered, and some were never answered at all. A few responses did arrive, contributing to investigations such as the one about the paths to EU citizenship.

With the experience gained in the field, the expertise of its investigative journalists, and the help of other EDJNet members specialized on the issue, Civio has drafted a PDF with tips to help journalists with the requests for access to public information in Europe. The short guide contains useful information on how to best formulate questions to make them as ‘fail-safe’ as possible, as well as a brief overview of the most common reasons why the exercise of the right of access to public information (often) fail in some European countries.

You can download the PDF and read the tips it here: