Open access rules for the Nordic Council of Ministers
Chapter 1 Introduction
§ 1 Purpose
- The purpose of these open access rules is to ensure the highest possible level of open access and to facilitate effective document management in the activities of the Nordic Council of Ministers.
§ 2 Scope of application
- These open access rules apply when someone requests access to a document held by the Nordic Council of Ministers, including the Secretariat to the Nordic Council of Ministers.
- In these open access rules ‘the Nordic Council of Ministers’ and ‘council of ministers’ refer to the Ministers for Nordic Co-operation or an authorised council of ministers in a specialist field, committees of senior officials, steering groups or working groups, advisory bodies to the council of ministers, and other similar bodies under the council of ministers.
- The open access rules do not apply to pan-Nordic institutions.
Chapter 2 Main rules on open access
§ 3 Public documents
- Any documents received by or created within the Nordic Council of Ministers or its Secretariat are public documents and must be provided on request unless excluded under these open access rules.
- 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 Nordic Council of Ministers or its Secretariat when it has arrived at the same 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 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 Nordic Council of Ministers or its Secretariat are covered by these provisions if the document relates to matters within the remit of the Nordic Council of Ministers or its Secretariat.
§ 4 Right of access to public documents
- Everyone is entitled to access the content of a public document held by the Secretariat without disclosing their identity or stating the reason for their request.
- A request to access the content of a public document must be specified in sufficient detail so that the Secretariat can investigate which document or documents the request relates to.
§ 5 Disclosure of documents
- 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.
Chapter 3 Exclusions from the main rules on open access
§ 6 General exceptions
1. Information held in public documents may not be provided if the dissemination of the information could adversely affect:
a) the security of a Nordic state or the Faroe Islands, Greenland, or Åland, or its relations with another state or autonomous territory, or with an international organisation;
b) the Nordic Council’s relations with a non-Nordic country or with an international or multilateral organisation;
c) interest in preventing or punishing crime;
d) the public economic interest or the protection of an individual’s personal or financial affairs;
e) the surveillance, inspection, or supervisory activities of national public authorities; or
f) the protection of fauna or flora.
2. In the case where a document received by the Nordic Council of Ministers or its Secretariat, and it is evident from an endorsement on the document or 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 open access rules.
§ 7 Internal working papers
- Internal working papers - i.e. notes 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.
- Internal working papers may, however, be disclosed to the extent that the material has added factual information to a matter.
§ 8 Service of the Secretariat
- Documents and information exchanged in connection with the service of the Secretariat to the Nordic Council of Ministers do not need to be disclosed.
§ 9 Project application matters
- Only a list of applications for project funding from the Nordic Council of Ministers is made public.
§ 10 Employment matters
- Only information on applicants’ names, gender, and nationality is made public in respect of employment matters, provided that the applicant does not explicitly request that their application be treated confidentially.
Chapter 4 Right to party inspection
§ 11 Right to party inspection
- An applicant, complainant, or other party in matters where the Nordic Council of Ministers or its Secretariat makes a decision in relation to an individual, a public authority, or a company shall, provided that none of the exclusions in § 12 below apply, be entitled to inspect documents and information recorded for the matter which may influence or may have influenced the process.
§ 12 Exclusions to the right to party inspection
- The right to party inspection includes internal working papers only to the extent that the material has added factual information to a matter.
- In employment matters, the right to party inspection is limited to such factual information as concerns the party requesting inspection.
- The right to party inspection does not include documents and information exchanged in connection with the service of the Secretariat to the Nordic Council of Ministers.
- Documents or information may not be disclosed to a party in a matter if it is of particular importance that a document or information not be disclosed in the interest of the public or an individual.
Chapter 5 Document management
§ 13 Recording of documents etc.
1. When a document has been received by or created within the Nordic Council of Ministers or its 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:
a) the date the document was received or created;
b) the journal number or other notation which identifies the document;
c) where appropriate, from whom the document was received or to whom it was dispatched; and
d) a brief summary of the document.
Information in respect of points c) and d) may be excluded if this is necessary 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.
§ 14 Documentation obligation
Information obtained by the Nordic Council of Ministers or its Secretariat in other ways than through a document and which has or may be of significance to the outcome of a matter in which the Nordic Council of Ministers or its Secretariat is making a decision in relation to an individual, a public authority, or a company shall be recorded and registered in accordance with the provisions under § 13.
Chapter 6 Procedural provisions
§ 15 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 Secretariat shall ascertain whether the document should be made available.
- The Secretariat must make a concrete examination of the disclosure in each individual case.
- In connection with the examination, it must be considered whether it is possible to disclose more information than what has been requested, provided that this does not conflict with these open access rules.
- If the request is refused the decision must be provided in writing. The decision must state the reason(s) for the refusal and contain information on how the decision can be appealed.
§ 16 Appeals
- If a request for access to a document is refused by the Secretariat, the request shall be reviewed by the Nordic Committee for Co-operation if so requested by the person who made the request.
- An appeal must be submitted to the Nordic Committee for Co-operation and must be received by the Secretariat no later than 21 days after a decision on rejection has been made.
- Decisions of the Nordic Committee for Co-operation cannot be appealed.
§ 17 Entry into force
- These provisions came into force on 29 February 2016 at the same time as the previous rules on open access were revoked for the Nordic Council of Ministers. For documents which were received or created prior to 29 February 2016, the previous provisions regarding the recording of documents continue to apply.
 Amended by order (MR-SAM) on 6 September 2010; new third paragraph. The change came into effect on 1 January 2011. [The change relates to § 10 in the proposal.]