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Decision on the European External Action Service’s refusal to grant public access to documents related to EU funding provided to Palestinian civil society organisations (case 29/2022/TM)

Tisdag | 05 juli 2022

The case concerned a request for public access to documents drawn up for the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy relating to funding of Palestinian civil society organisations. The European External Action Service (EEAS) identified excerpts of five documents as falling within the scope of the request. The EEAS denied access, arguing that disclosure would undermine the protection of the public interest as regards international relations.

The Ombudsman inquiry team inspected the documents at issue and obtained additional, confidential explanations from the EEAS. Based on this and considering the wide margin of discretion that EU institutions enjoy where they consider that international relations are at risk, the Ombudsman found that the EEAS’s decision to refuse access was not manifestly wrong. Given that the public interest at stake cannot be superseded by another public interest that is deemed more important, the Ombudsman closed the case finding no maladministration.