Democracy and participation

Access to information to counter fake news on EU shortlist


Who is behind this?

Mathias Huter

Forum Informationsfreiheit


Who is joining forces?

Citizens Network Watchdog Poland


K-Monitor Association


Access Info Europe


Forum Informationsfreiheit, K-Monitor and Watchdog Poland will implement the project in their respective countries. Access Info Europe will offer guidance and support advocacy efforts.

Idea Sketch | Proposal


Idea pitch

Austria, Hungary and Poland experience pressure on democratic space, have disastrously poor access to information rules and a prevailing culture of secrecy. To keep citizens informed, combat fake news about the EU and fight corruption, we need to ensure that citizens in can easily ask for information from the EU. Our tools will guide citizens, journalists and activists when requesting information from State and EU bodies, our own requests will help inform national political debates.

Where will your idea take place?

Vienna, Austria; Warsaw, Poland; Budapest, Hungary; Madrid, Spain; Brussels, Belgium

Why does Europe need your idea?

Access to information is key for citizens, journalists and civil society to be able to scrutinize political decisions and contribute to public debates on national and EU levels. Transparency and easy access to documents and information held by public bodies can help counter fake news about the EU and strengthen its legitimacy.
Many citizens, journalists and activists are not aware of their right to information and how to exercise it. We will raise awareness and develop materials (print, PDF and videos, workshops, consultations) to guide them when seeking information on national and EU levels.
Our organizations will work to advance transparency, including by filing requests (and complaints and appeals if access is denied), through high-level advocacy and media campaigns.

What is your impact?

More citizens, journalists, activists and researchers will become aware of their right to information, exercise it, and request documents from national and EU institutions. They use these responses to inform and shape public debates by inserting facts obtained from State and EU bodies to counter false or misleading claims.

When they are not provided with information, they use our guidance to fight for their right and appeal in court. EU institutions and national state bodies open up as a result of growing public demand for transparency. In disputed cases, courts rule in favor of a strong right to information.

How do you get there?

We will...
=> develop easily understandable manuals on access to information (ATI) for Austria, Poland and Hungary (no or no up-to-date guides are currently available – a guide in Poland will likely soon be outdated), covering national and EU bodies (print + web under open license, promoted through in-kind Google ads and Facebook ads)
=> produce Youtube how-to videos
=> offer workshops and personal consultations to CSOs, activists and reporters on ATI
=> file requests for data and documents that will inform public debates (such as immigration, EU budget, EU Parliament elections)
=> file complaints and appeals when information is denied
=> advocate for stronger ATI on national and EU levels (meetings, media campaigns)

What is your story?

Transparency is not only a powerful tool to reduce the risks of corruption and abuse of power but can also help to counter populist debates.

All four organizations cooperating in this project share the mission of advancing transparency and government accountability. We believe that citizens must be able to easily exercise their right to access information held by State and EU bodies.

In times of shrinking democratic spaces, access to information is a crucial tool for citizens, civil society, researchers and reporters to check the claims and actions of political leaders, to defend democratic institutions and to strengthen trust in democratic processes.

Who are you doing it for?

=> Our outreach will target watchdogs, civil society organizations and reporters as key beneficiaries, to promote our guides, workshops and consultations;
=> Our materials will be aimed at interested citizens, whom we will aim to target when they search online (including through in-kind Google ads);
=> With stories and analysis on requests to information that we file ourselves, we will target journalists to generate media coverage of our findings;
=> Our advocacy will target national and EU decision-makers (national government, MPs, MEPs) and key stakeholders on ATI (access to information commissioners, human rights ombudsman, EU ombudsman, information officers etc.).

What makes your idea stand apart?

In times when democratic institutions and ideas are under attack by populists, we apply human rights and the law to fight back. When lawmakers and State institutions refuse to provide the public with information that is in the public interest, we turn to appeal mechanisms and the courts to scrutinize these decisions.
We will counter the populist narrative that Brussels is an intransparent black hole that is detached from citizens by highlighting access to information mechanisms on the EU level – which are stronger than on national levels.
Through campaigning, filing requests for information and through litigation, we will build momentum for enhancing transparency on both, EU and national levels, as a tool to (re-)build trust in democratic institutions.

€ 49700,-

Funding requested from Advocate Europe

€ 76200,-

Total budget

Major expenses

Office expenses: 250 EUR Travel costs: 2,000 EUR Accommodation and subsistence: 1,000 EUR Event costs: 2,000 EUR Fees and honararies: 0 EUR Public Relations: 13,200 EUR Unforseen and others: 1,250 EUR Personnell costs: 30,000 EUR

What do you need from the Advocate Europe community?

Did you know that you have a right to receive information from EU bodies? Have you requested information from State or EU bodies? If not, is there a particular reason; if yes, did you face challenges? What are key political issues where you think more transparency would help inform public debates?


Forum Informationsfreiheit



Idea created on Jan. 14, 2018
Last edit on May 22, 2018

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