PRESENTATION OF THE EUROPEAN OMBUDSMAN’S PRACTICE OF PROVIDING CITIZENS WITH A FREE ACCESS TO PUBLIC INFORMATION
Within the framework of the IPA II project, financed by the EU, in the activity of raising the capacities of the Agency for the Protection of the Right to Free Access to Public Information, a two-day online workshop was held with representatives of the European Ombudsman, Mr. Fergal Anthony O’Regan, Ms. Honor Mahoney, Mrs. Teresa Mandzukova and Mr. Enrico Portelli, intended for the employees of the Agency.
The Director of the Agency, Ms. Plamenka Bojcheva, introduced the attendees to the competencies of the Agency, the Law on Free Access to Public Information, as well as the reactive and proactive transparency that she practices in her work.
The representative of the Office of the Ombudsman, Mr. Fergal Anthony O’Regan, presented the work of the Office of the Ombudsman through practical examples of the procedures regarding free access to public information, inspection powers, and decision-making based on proposed solutions and recommendations. Particular emphasis was placed on the exceptions to free access to public information concerning environmental protection and the Aarhus Convention. Examples were also presented of the proactive handling of cases handled by employees of the Ombudsman and the publication of these cases through their communication channels.
Furthermore, the public interest session discussed some scenarios involving the handling of classified information and the Ombudsman’s response to those scenarios.
At the workshop’s conclusion, Mr. Enrico Portelli presented the methods and resources used by the European Ombudsman’s Public Relations Department to educate the public on the office’s initiative.