21 October 2015

On October 6, 2015, the Bulgarian National Assembly adopted at first reading amendments to the Access to Public Information Act (APIA).


The amendments are being adopted in a dynamic context.

 

In the beginning of 2014, the Access to Information Programme (AIP) launched a nationwide public consultation on the necessary amendments to the access to information legislation. Five discussions with interested parties and an online consultation were held regarding identified problems with the APIA implementation and possible legal solutions. In December 2014, AIP published a Concept Paper on Amendments for the Access to Public Information Legislation, which presents a broad range of problems stemming from the APIA implementation practices and possible solutions for their overcoming. One of the main AIP recommendations is the establishment of an Oversight body.

 

In the summer of 2014, a working group was formed at the Ministry of Transport, Information Technologies, and Communications (MTITC) with the mandate to draft amendments to the Bulgarian legislation regarding the introduction of the revised Directive 2013/37/EU on the Re-use of Public Sector Information. In 2007, the Directive 2003/97/EC on the Re-use of Public Sector Information was transposed in the Access to Public Information Act. AIP experts were invited to take part in the working group and as a result of the active participation in the discussions, a better regulation of some obligations was achieved, besides the introduction of the revised EU Directive.

 

The bill drafted by the MTITC working group went under one month public consultation in the autumn of 2014, inter-institutional consultation in the beginning of 2015, and was introduced in the National Assembly on April 29, 2015 by the Council of Ministers. AIP experts took part in all stages of the public debate and consultation and the subsequent four parliamentary committee’s sessions.

 

On October 6, 2015, the Bulgarian National Assembly adopted at first reading amendments to the APIA.

 

As a result of AIP active advocacy, besides the amendments introducing the EU Directive on the Re-use of Public Sector Information, the amendments will also introduce:

Although AIP recommendation for the establishment of an APIA oversight body was not supported, AIP continues its active involvement in the procedure of the bill adoption in the parliament.

 

On 22 October 2015, AIP will present its opinion in the Civil Society Council with parliament Committee on Cooperation with NGOs and on Citizens' Complaints which is the leading committee on the Draft Law.