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Failure to deal properly with requests for public access to documents [Article 23 ECGAB]

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Showing 1 - 20 of 591 results

Decision in case 1219/2020/MIG on how the European Council dealt with a request for public access to mobile phone based messages supposedly sent by its then President to heads of state and government

Monday | 26 October 2020

The case concerned a request for public access to text messages sent in 2018 by the then President of the European Council to heads of state and government. The European Council said that it did not hold such text messages. The complainants expressed doubts that no documents falling within the scope of their request for access were in the possession of the European Council.

The Ombudsman noted that there is a legal presumption that the European Council does not hold the relevant documents, and that this presumption had not been rebutted by the arguments and evidence put forward by the complainants. As such, she found no maladministration in this particular case.

Having said that, the complaint raises important issues, notably the need for adequate record-keeping when it comes to instant messages. It is clear that text and instant messaging is increasingly used for professional communication, including communication of substantive information. In light of their duty to draw up and retain documentation pertaining to their activities, EU institutions should reflect this reality in their respective rules on the registration of documents, ensuring that relevant communication is properly recorded.

Decision in case 1029/2020/DL on the European External Action Service’s refusal to give public access to documents containing information on Member States’ troop contributions to EU missions and operations

Monday | 19 October 2020

The complainant sought public access to documents containing information related to EU missions and operations conducted under the EU’s Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP).

The European External Action Service (EEAS) disclosed five documents falling under the scope of the request. However, it refused access to documents containing information on individual troop contributions of Member States, considering that it is for each Member State to provide this information. The EEAS moreover stated that disclosing these documents could undermine the protection of the public interest as regards public security, defence and military matters, and international relations.

After her inquiry team inspected the documents, it was confirmed that they indeed contain highly sensitive information. Thus, the Ombudsman concluded that the EEAS was justified in refusing access and closed the inquiry finding no maladministration.

Decision in case 948/2020/MIG on the European Border and Coast Guard Agency's (Frontex) refusal to deal with a request for public access to documents concerning its budget

Wednesday | 14 October 2020

The case concerned a request for public access to documents concerning Frontex’s budget. The complainant turned to the Ombudsman as Frontex refused to process his request because he did not provide proof of his identity in the manner requested by Frontex.

The Ombudsman found that the complainant’s request could be addressed by providing him with some useful information. She therefore made a corresponding proposal for a solution.

Frontex accepted the Ombudsman’s proposal for a solution. The Ombudsman thus closed the inquiry finding that the complaint had been settled. The Ombudsman is pursuing the underlying issue of proof of identity in the context of her inquiry into joined cases 1261/2020/MAS and 1361/2020/MAS.

Decision in case 652/2020/MIG on the European Commission’s refusal of public access to correspondence with the United Kingdom government concerning the nomination of a candidate for commissioner

Monday | 28 September 2020

The case concerned a request for public access to four letters which the European Commission had exchanged with the United Kingdom (UK) government, concerning the UK’s failure to nominate a candidate for commissioner following the European elections. The Commission refused access on the grounds that there was an ongoing infringement procedure against the UK concerning the matter.

The Ombudsman proposed as a solution that the Commission grant access to the documents at issue, given the changed situation, since the UK has left the EU. The Commission accepted the Ombudsman's proposal and the case was closed as resolved.

Decision in case 968/2020/DL on the European Commission's refusal to grant full access to documents relating to a meeting between the Commission, Member States and stakeholders on scientific cooperation with China

Wednesday | 16 September 2020

The case concerned the refusal by the Commission to provide access to briefings and e-mail exchanges relating to a meeting between the Commission and stakeholders about scientific cooperation with China.

The Commission granted partial access to the requested documents. It stated that the redactions it made were necessary to protect its ongoing decision-making process, international relations and the privacy of the persons whose names are mentioned in the documents.

The Ombudsman agreed that releasing the documents without having made the necessary redactions could undermine international relations. As regards the redaction of names, the complainant did not put forward a valid reason for transferring this personal data to him.

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