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Décision rendue dans l’affaire 21/2016/JAP relative au refus du Conseil de l’Union européenne d’octroyer l’accès à des avis juridiques sur des propositions de règlements relatifs à la création du Parquet européen et sur l’Agence de l’Union européenne pour la coopération judiciaire en matière pénale (Eurojust)

Jeudi | 07 mars 2019

L’affaire concernait le refus du Conseil de l’Union européenne d’octroyer l’accès total à des avis juridiques sur les propositions législatives de règlements relatifs à la mise en place du Parquet européen et à l’Agence de l’Union européenne pour la coopération judiciaire en matière pénale (Eurojust).

Au cours de l’enquête de la Médiatrice, le Conseil a accepté de divulguer deux des quatre documents, mais a maintenu son refus de divulguer les deux autres documents dans leur intégralité, n’y octroyant qu’un accès partiel.

La Médiatrice reconnaît que le refus de divulguer les avis juridiques dans leur intégralité était justifié car cela porterait atteinte à la protection des avis juridiques et des procédures juridictionnelles. Elle clôt dès lors l’affaire en concluant à l’absence de mauvaise administration, mais elle invite le Conseil à réexaminer son refus dans un certain temps.

Decision in case 66/2016/DK on the European Research Council Executive Agency’s action concerning a request for access to documents

Jeudi | 21 décembre 2017

The case concerned the complainant’s request for access to two e-mails sent from the private e-mail account of the President of the Governing Board of the European Research Council Executive Agency to the members of the Scientific Council of the Agency. When the Agency refused access on the basis that the two e-mails were not in its possession as they were sent from a private account, the complainant turned to the European Ombudsman.

The Ombudsman opened an inquiry into the issue, after which the President of the Governing Board provided the Agency with copies of the two e-mails. Thus, the Agency could assess the complainant’s request for access to the e-mails under Regulation 1049/2001[1]. The Agency then granted the complainant partial access to the documents. The Ombudsman obtained full copies of the two e-mails and was able to verify that the redactions made in the copies disclosed to the complainant were justified.

The Ombudsman therefore closed the inquiry with a finding of no maladministration.

Decision in case 709/2015/MDC on the Commission's refusal to grant public access to drafts of the final Impact Assessment Report accompanying its proposal for a Directive amending the Fuel Quality and Renewable Energy Directives

Mercredi | 04 octobre 2017

The case concerned the Commission’s refusal to grant public access to draft versions of an Impact Assessment Report (IAR) on indirect land-use change related to biofuels (ILUC). Disclosure of the documents was refused on the ground that it would undermine the Commission’s decision-making process. The complainant, a group of organisations, considered that it should be granted access to the documents it requested.

The Ombudsman inquired into the issue. She noted that in September 2015, Parliament and Council adopted Directive 2015/1513. That Directive was based on the Commission’s legislative proposal to which the impact assessment report, the draft versions of which were at issue in this case, was attached. The Ombudsman therefore proposed that, in light of these new circumstances, the Commission grant public access to the requested documents. The Commission disagreed, arguing that there had been no maladministration on its part. It however invited the complainant to make a new request for access to documents, in light of the new circumstances. The complainant later informed the Ombudsman that, following a new request for access to documents, the Commission granted access to the documents it had requested. The Ombudsman thus closed the case with a finding that no further inquiries into the complaint were justified. She also pointed out that the Ombudsman is entitled to ask an institution to take into consideration, when responding to a proposal for a solution of the Ombudsman in an access to documents case, new arguments as to why a document should be released.

Décision dans l’affaire 1959/2014/MDC concernant le refus de la Commission européenne d’accorder un accès public aux formulaires d’évaluation des critères d’attribution concernant les demandes de co-financement de systèmes de traitement de dossiers passagers

Jeudi | 13 juillet 2017

L’affaire concernait le refus de la Commission européenne d’accorder un accès public aux formulaires d’évaluation établis pour évaluer les demandes adressées par des États membres à la Commission en vue du co-financement de systèmes de traitement des données nationales de dossiers passagers (PNR[1]). La plainte a été déposée par un membre du Parlement européen.

Lorsqu’elle a refusé l’accès aux formulaires d'évaluation demandés, la Commission s’est fondée sur un arrêt du Tribunal qui reconnaissait la nécessité de préserver la confidentialité des procédures des comités d'évaluation relatives aux procédures de passation de marchés. Dans cette affaire, le Tribunal a jugé que la divulgation des avis des membres du comité d'évaluation compromettrait leur indépendance, et porterait donc gravement préjudice au processus décisionnel de l’institution concernée. Le plaignant a cependant considéré que cet arrêt était inapplicable à une procédure d'évaluation concernant l’évaluation de demandes de financement soumises par des États membres.

La Médiatrice a ouvert une enquête sur cette affaire et a conclu que le refus de la Commission de divulguer les documents demandés n’était pas justifié. En outre, elle a convenu qu’il existait un intérêt public supérieur à divulguer les documents demandés. La Médiatrice a donc recommandé à la Commission de divulguer les documents demandés (elle a cependant convenu que les noms des évaluateurs pourraient être biffés).

La Commission a refusé d'accepter la recommandation adressée par la Médiatrice sans fournir de raisons convaincantes pour justifier sa position. En conséquence, la Médiatrice a clos l’affaire en concluant à une mauvaise administration.

 

[1] Les données des dossiers passagers (PNR) sont des informations fournies par les passagers lors de la réservation des billets et de l’enregistrement sur les vols, qui sont aussi collectées par les compagnies aériennes pour leur propre usage commercial. Elles contiennent différents types d’informations, comme les dates du voyage, l’itinéraire, les informations figurant sur le billet, les coordonnées, l’agence de voyage par l’intermédiaire de laquelle le vol a été réservé, le moyen de paiement utilisé, le numéro de siège et les informations sur les bagages. Les données sont conservées dans les bases de données de contrôle des réservations et des départs des compagnies aériennes.

Decision in case 1102/2016/JN on the Commission’s failure to reply to correspondence and to fully disclose a document

Vendredi | 13 janvier 2017

The case concerned the Commission’s failure to reply to the complainant’s correspondence in the context of a financial audit at the Member State level. Following the Ombudsman’s intervention, the Commission replied. It disclosed the document requested by the complainant but redacted some personal data (names of physical persons). The Ombudsman found that the Commission correctly justified the redaction under Regulation 45/2001.

Decision in case 739/2016/JAP concerning the European Union Intellectual Property Office’s refusal to grant access to a downloadable version of its case law database

Mercredi | 11 janvier 2017

The case concerned the handling of a request for information as how to obtain a downloadable version of a case law database held by the European Union Intellectual Property Office (‘EUIPO’). The Ombudsman inquired into the issue and asked EUIPO to better explain its reasons why it could not comply with the request. The EUIPO’s explanation was accurate and reasonable. Thus, the case was closed with the finding of no maladministration.

Decision in case 393/2015/MDC on the European Commission’s refusal to grant full public access to evaluation documents concerning a public procurement process

Lundi | 19 décembre 2016

The complaint, submitted by the NGO Access Info Europe, concerns the European Commission's allegedly wrongful refusal to grant full public access to evaluation documents concerning a public procurement process for the 'Rehabilitation and extension of the waste water treatment plant of Subotica' (Serbia). The disclosure of the documents was refused on the basis of Article 4(1)(b) (the protection of personal data), Article 4(2) (the protection of commercial interests) and Article 4(3) (the protection of the decision-making process) of Regulation 1049/2001. The complainant considered that it should be granted full access to the evaluation documents.

The Ombudsman inquired into the issue and found that there was no maladministration in the Commission's conduct.  However, she suggests that the Commission should systematically obtain, prior to their appointment, the consent of evaluation committee members in procurement processes to the disclosure of their names. Disclosure of their names at the conclusion of the evaluation process should be considered a condition of appointment to such a committee.

Decision of the European Ombudsman closing the inquiry into complaint 1206/2014/PD concerning the European Commission’s refusal to disclose the names of officials in a State aid case

Lundi | 19 décembre 2016

The case concerned a refusal by the Commission to disclose the names of staff who had worked on a Commission State aid investigation. In the course of the inquiry the Ombudsman obtained the views of the Commission, the complainant and the European Data Protection Supervisor.

The question of whether the refusal to disclose the names was right hinged upon Article 8 of Regulation 45/2001 on Data Protection. Under that provision the person asking for disclosure must first show the necessity of disclosing the names to that person. If that test is met, the public authority must still establish whether the legitimate interests of the staff members would be affected by the disclosure of their names and, if so, whether those legitimate interests were more important than the necessity put forward by the person asking for the disclosure of the names.  

While holding that the Commission should not apply Article 8 in a restrictive manner when names of staff are at issue, the Ombudsman found that there was no maladministration on the part of the Commission in refusing to disclose the names of the staff members at issue.

Transparency of the Eurogroup

Jeudi | 01 décembre 2016

Decision in case 1171/2016/EIS on the Commission’s handling of correspondence concerning alleged illegalities committed by national courts in Estonia

Jeudi | 24 novembre 2016

The case concerned the Commission’s failure to reply to the complainant’s letter concerning alleged illegalities committed by national courts in Estonia. In that letter, the complainant also criticised the Commission for not taking any action. The Commission explained that it has no competence to intervene in the matter. The Ombudsman inquired into the issue and found that the Commission’s explanations were correct, helpful and in line with its statutory powers. The case was thus closed as settled.

Decision of the European Ombudsman in case 789/2016/EIS concerning the EEAS’ handling of a request for public access to the “Political Dialogue and Cooperation Agreement” between the EU and Cuba

Jeudi | 10 novembre 2016

The case concerned the handling by the European External Action Service (EEAS) of the complainant’s request for public access to the “Political Dialogue and Cooperation Agreement” between the EU and Cuba. In the course of the Ombudsman’s inquiry, the EEAS released the document. As a result, the Ombudsman closed the case as settled.