The European Court of Justice on Monday threw out a lawsuit
filed nearly three years ago against the European Union that would have
required the EU to release details of its funding of NGOs.
The lawsuit filed in January 2010 by the Jerusalem-based NGO Monitor
charged that the European Commission had failed to fulfill European
Union transparency obligations after the group had tried for 13 months
to secure documents detailing nongovernmental agency funding by the EC,
the European Union's executive branch.
Under the European Freedom of Information law, such funding details
must be made available upon request. However, the EC cited “public
security,” “privacy” and “commercial interests” in denying NGO Monitor’s
NGO Monitor researchers identified nearly $48 million provided by the
EC from June 2005 until the filling to nongovernmental organizations
active in Israel and the Palestinian Authority. Many of these
organizations, the group said, are active in efforts that seek to
isolate Israel by legal means and through boycott campaigns.
The court based in Luxembourg last month ruled in favor of the EC,
rejecting NGO Monitor's claims for being “manifestly unfounded” or
“manifestly lacking any foundation in law,” Ami Kaufman at the +972
magazine website reported on Monday. The court also ordered NGO Monitor
to pay the costs incurred by the EC for defending itself.
NGO Monitor said in a statement released Monday that the decision
"confirmed that the EU fails to act transparently in its funding of
"For over a decade, the EU has acted with impunity in funding
political advocacy NGOs with near total secrecy," said Gerald Steinberg,
president of NGO Monitor. "Throughout, EU officials have attempted to
justify the intense secrecy by using exaggerated claims of 'public
security' and 'commercial interest.' The only reasonable conclusion is
that the EU has something to hide."
NGO Monitor said in a statement that EU funding, amounting to
millions of dollars annually, has gone to what it calls a small fringe
of highly politicized groups.
"In addition to violating basic principles of transparency in
government, this secret funding for Israeli NGOs grossly infringes on
and seeks to manipulate the Israeli democratic process," Steinberg said.