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Decision in case 1990/2020/MIG on the European Central Bank’s (ECB) refusal of public access to documents concerning an alleged violation of EU law by a bank

Friday | 19 February 2021

The case concerned public access to files held by the European Central Bank (ECB) concerning one of the banks covered under its supervisory role. The ECB refused to give access based on the confidential nature of the documents at issue. The complainant had submitted a report to the ECB alleging that the bank had breached EU law. Based on his role in reporting the breach and his claim to be negatively impacted by the bank’s actions, the complainant was of the view that he should be granted access to the documents.

The Ombudsman found that it was reasonable for the ECB to consider that the documents at issue are confidential and protected by law. The fact that the complainant may have reported and been affected by the alleged breach does not mean he has a specific right to access the documents in question.

The Ombudsman concluded that the ECB was justified in refusing to give the complainant access to the requested documents, and closed the inquiry finding no maladministration.