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Sweden: European Commission questions Swedish transparency

Does the public have a right to know about genetically modified feedstuff? Yes, ruled the Swedish authorities on highest level, after lower instances had rejected the wob-application. But the European Commission is not amused and threatens Sweden with a court case for too much transparency.


According to the Commission, Sweden is in breach of the European treaties, writes Riksdag & Departement in a recent article. Thus this case of Commission vs. The case brought against Sweden is an "important principal" case, estimates medialaw professor Oluf Jørgensen from Mediejura in Denmark.

The subject of the trouble is politically hot: Genetically modified maize foodstuff by the company Monsanto, who has commercial interests.

The debated document is a report by Monsanto, initially sent to the Dutch authorities, where it was declared secret, and later distributed to other national authorities, among them the Swedish Ministry of Agriculture, Jordbruksverket. Environmental NGO Greenpeace in Sweden applied for access to the documents, but was initially turned down by Jordbruksverket due to the Dutch secrecy stamp.

However the administrative court, Regeringsrätten, reached a different conclusion and said, that the EU-directive did not prevent Swedish authorities from taking an independent view on the freedom of information aspect. Following the ruling, Jordbruksverket gave access to the report.

According to Riksdagen&Departementet this looks like a test case for the Swedish government, who upon entering the EU promised, that Swedish transparency would not be affected or reduced by EU-membership.

Brigitte Alfter



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