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Council split over grounds for refusal.The legal opinion comes in response to a request from Steven Peers for notes from Austria, Germany and Portugal to the Council's working group on asylum. These Member States were commenting on a European Commission working paper on the possibility of integrating the Dublin Convention into EU law*. Subsequently, the Commission proposed in July 2001 to replace the Convention with a Regulation, which is currently being examined by the Council.In the Council's response, adopted on January 21, all Member States except Finland agreed that the documents should not be released. However, Denmark, the Netherlands and Sweden made a Declaration opposing the grounds for rejecting the request that were cited in the reply. They felt that these were internal documents and could be released with the approval of a simple majority of the Council. By contrast, the others considered them external documents, meaning that the Member State concerned could block their disclosure.--The Regulation on Public Access to European Parliament, Council and Commission documents, was adopted in May 2001 (1049/EC) after months of painstaking wrangling between the institutions. Article 4 lists the grounds for which access may be refused. They include public security, defence and military matters, international relations, financial, monetary or economic policy, personal privacy, commercial interests and legal proceedings. A document may also be withheld if drawn up for internal use and relating to a decision not yet taken by the institution, e.g. deliberations and preliminary consultations. As regards "third party" documents, the institution is obliged to consult the author before divulging its contents. Member States may request the institution not to disclose one of its documents without its prior agreement.--Legal Service interpretation.According to Article 203 of the EC Treaty, "the Council shall consist of a representative of each Member State at ministerial level, authorised to commit the government of that Member State". The...

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