- These rules apply when a request is received by the Nordic Council or its secretariat for access to a document or documents. The aim is to provide the greatest amount of public access.
- Any document or documents that have been submitted to or created by the Council and Secretariat are open to public scrutiny and must be made available on request except under the circumstances stipulated by these regulations.
- In these rules the ‘Nordic Council’ or ‘the council’ refers to the Nordic Council's Presidium and the Nordic Council's committees.
- The right of open access to document or documents under these rules is restricted to the parties directly given access to the said documents.
These rules also apply to the Council Secretariat.
These rules do not apply to the members of the Nordic Council, the party groups and the party groups' secretariats, neither do they apply to document(s) which are exchanged between these parties.
Submitted and created documents
- The term ‘document’ is understood to mean written material or images as well as recordings which can be read, listened to or in some other way understood with the aid of technical devices.
- A document is considered to be submitted to the Secretariat when it has arrived at the Secretariat or has been received by hand by an authorized official.
- A document is considered to have been created when it has been processed. A document which has not been processed is considered created when the business to which it relates has been concluded or, if the document(s) does not relate to an item of business, when it has been amended or in some other way completed. A note in a journal or some other on-going register shall be considered as a created document at the time it is entered into the register. Minutes of meetings and resolutions adopted shall be considered as created once they have been approved.
- Letters or other correspondence which are addressed personally to a member of staff in the Secretariat are covered by these rules if the document(s) relates to items of business or other matters within the remit of the Secretariat.
Registration of documents etc.
1. When a document(s) has been submitted or created in the Secretariat the document shall be registered promptly unless it is obvious that the document is of little significance to the organisation.
2. The entry must include:
i) the date that the document(s) was submitted or created
ii) the journal number or other notation which identifies the document
iii) where appropriate, from whom the document was received or to whom it was dispatched
iv) a brief summary of the document
Information regarding points iii) and iv) may be excluded if necessary before the entry can be made public
3. The registration shall be accessible to the general public
4. The Secretariat shall keep documents in safe custody and file them so that the open access principle can be applied as appropriate
Access rights to a public document
Everyone is entitled to have access to the content of a public document held by the Council Secretariat without disclosing his/her identity or stating the reason for his/her request.
- Access to a document which has been requested shall be given as soon as possible, either handed out or available to view on site without charge.
- A person who requests access to a public document also has the right, on payment of a fixed fee, to receive a print out or a copy of the part of the document being handed out. There is no charge for electronic copies.
- If the information in the document(s) cannot be handed out in its entirety, because of exceptions from the public domain, those parts which are not excluded shall be made accessible in a transcript or copy.
- Access rights to a document in the public domain do not include the right to request translation of the document.
Exceptions from the public domain
Information held in public documents cannot be handed out if the distribution of the information could adversely affect:
- The security of a Nordic state or autonomous territory, or their relations with another state or autonomous territory, or to an international organisation;
- The Council's relations to a country other than a Nordic one or to an international or multilateral organisation;
- Interest in preventing or punishing crime;
- General economic interest;
- The protection of an individual's personal or financial affairs.
- National authorities' surveillance, inspection or supervision activities;
- The protection of fauna or flora.
When the document(s) in question has been received by the Secretariat from an official body, a public judicial body or an international organisation, and it is evident from the signature on the document or particular memorandum that, because of its content, it should be exempted from the rules of public domain by the sender, the Secretariat shall, if necessary, consult the sender before it applies these rules and takes the decision to issue the document.
Internal working papers, i.e. drafts which have been received only as the basis for the preparation of items of business or which have not been dispatched, do not have to be made available.
The list of applicants for employment in the Nordic Council is in the public domain, in so far as the applicant has not specifically requested that the application be treated in confidence.
Decision to grant access to document(s)
Request(s) for access to a document(s) shall be treated promptly. On receipt of such a request the Council or the person authorised by the council shall seek to ascertain as soon as possible whether the document should be made available. If the request is refused the decision must be given in writing. It must state the reason(s) for the refusal and contain instructions about the right to appeal.
If the question of an exemption of a public document(s) as per § 8 has not yet been tested by a proper body but the Secretary of the Presidium finds that a decision to make such an exception may be necessary he/she may recommend that access to the document not be granted while such a decision is pending.
The Presidium, an individual authorised by the Presidium, and Nordic Council committees may however decide that the document as described in § 8 can be made available wholly or in part.
If a request to be granted access to part of a document(s) is refused by means of a decision which is not taken by the Council the request must be reviewed by the Council if so desired by the person who made the request.
These rules took effect from 23 September 2005. For documents which were received or created earlier the previous rules for registration of documents apply.