Open Access rules for the Nordic Council
- 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 highest possible level of open access.
- Any documents received by or created within the Nordic Council or its Secretariat are public documents and must be provided on request unless excluded under these open access rules.
- In these rules the ‘Nordic Council’ and ‘the council’ refer to the Presidium of the Nordic Council and the Nordic Council’s committees.
- The right of party inspection is not governed by these provisions.
These provisions apply also to the Secretariat to the Nordic Council.
These rules do not apply to the members of the Nordic Council, the party groups or the party groups’ secretariats, or to documents exchanged between these parties.
Documents received and created
- The term ‘document’ is understood to mean written material or images, together with recordings which can be read, listened to, or in some other way understood with the help of technical devices.
- A document is considered to have been received by the Secretariat when it has arrived at the Secretariat or has been received by hand by an authorised official.
- A document is considered to have been created when it has been dispatched. A document which has not been dispatched is considered to have been created once the matter to which it relates has been concluded or, if the document does not relate to a specific matter, once it has been amended or in some other way completed. A note in a journal or some other continuous register shall be considered as a created document at the time it is entered. Minutes of meetings and adopted resolutions 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 provisions if the document relates to matters within the remit of the Secretariat.
Recording of documents etc.
1. When a document has been received by or created within the Secretariat, the document shall be recorded promptly unless it is obvious that the document is of little significance to the organisation.
2. The record must include:
i) the date the document was received or created;
ii) the journal number or other notation which identifies the document;
iii) where appropriate, who the document was received from or to whom it was sent; and
iv) a brief summary of the document.
Information in respect of points iii) and iv) may be excluded if required before the record can be made public.
3. The register shall be accessible to the general public.
4. The Secretariat shall store and file documents so that the principle of open access can be applied in an appropriate manner.
Right of access to public documents
Everyone is entitled to access the content of a public document held by the Secretariat to the Nordic Council without disclosing their identity or stating the reason for their request.
- Documents to which access is granted shall be made available on site, without charge, on request or as soon as possible.
- A person who requests access to a public document also has the right, upon paying a fixed fee, to receive a printout or a copy of the document to the extent that access is granted. There is no charge for electronic copies.
- If the information in the document cannot be provided in its entirety as it is excluded from the public domain, those parts which are not excluded shall be made accessible in a transcript or copy.
- The right of access to a public document does not include the right to request a translation of the document.
Exclusions from open access
Information held in public documents may not be provided if the dissemination of the information could adversely affect:
- the security of a Nordic state or autonomous territory, or its relations with another state or autonomous territory, or with an international organisation;
- the Nordic Council’s relations with a non-Nordic country or with an international or multilateral organisation;
- interest in preventing or punishing crime;
- the public economic interest;
- the protection of an individual’s personal or financial affairs;
- the surveillance, inspection, or supervisory activities of national public authorities; or
- the protection of fauna or flora.
In the case where a document is received by the Secretariat from a public authority, a public judicial body, or an international organisation, and it is evident from an endorsement on the document or a particular memorandum that, because of its content, it should be exempt from the sender’s open access rules, the Secretariat shall, if necessary, consult the sender before making decisions with regard to the document’s disclosure pursuant to these rules.
Internal working papers - i.e. drafts which have not been dispatched and which are received only as the basis for the preparation of specific matters - do not have to be made available.
The list of applicants for employment in the Nordic Council is subject to open access, provided that the applicant has not specifically requested that the application be treated in confidence.
Decision to grant access to documents
Requests to access documents shall be processed promptly. As soon as possible on receipt of such a request, the Nordic Council or the person authorised by the same shall ascertain whether the document should be made available. If the request is refused the decision must be provided in writing. It must state the reason(s) for the refusal and contain instructions about the right to appeal.
If the exclusion of a public document under § 8 has yet to be tested by an authorised body but the Secretary of the Presidium finds that there may be grounds for such an exclusion, they may recommend that access to the document not be granted while such a decision is pending.
The Presidium, or an individual authorised by the Presidium, and the Nordic Council’s committees may, however, decide that documents as described in § 8 may be made available wholly or in part.
If a request for access to a document is refused by way of a decision which has not been made by the Nordic Council, the request shall be reviewed by the same if so requested by the person who made the request.
These provisions apply from 23 September 2005. For documents which were received or created earlier, the previous provisions regarding the recording of documents continue to apply.