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Summary of the decision in case 1336/2017/PB on how the European Commission handled a request for public access to its catalogue of nanomaterials used in cosmetics and to the related notifications made by cosmetics manufacturers

The case concerned a request for public access to a catalogue of nanomaterials used in cosmetic products and to related notifications made by cosmetics manufacturers. The European Commission, which had not completed the catalogue on time, argued that no such document existed when the complainant, an environmental NGO, made its request. The Commission also argued that it had no existing search tools to extract the requested notifications from its database.

The Ombudsman found that while the final version of the catalogue had not been published when the complainant made its access request, the Commission had failed to consult the complainant as to whether it would want access to any of the existing draft versions. This constituted maladministration.

The Ombudsman also found that some of the notifications could in fact have been extracted from the Commission’s database. Concerning the other notifications, the Commission failed to look for a solution in consultation with the complainant. These failures also constituted maladministration.

The Ombudsman therefore recommended that the Commission grant the complainant access to those notifications that can be extracted from its database and that it try to find a solution regarding the others. As the catalogue of nanomaterials had in the meantime been published, the Ombudsman did not consider it necessary to recommend the disclosure of any drafts.

The Commission rejected the Ombudsman’s findings of maladministration and her recommendation. The Ombudsman considered the Commission’s response and confirmed her findings of maladministration.