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Decision in case 73/2021/MIG on the European Commission’s refusal to grant public access to a document concerning the export of breeding cattle to third countries

Torsdag | 04 mars 2021

The case concerned a request for public access to a list containing information on transports of live cattle from Germany to countries outside the EU.

The Commission had given the complainant access to parts of the list, redacting the names of the local authorities responsible for the approval of the transports in question based on the need to protect personal data. In the course of the inquiry, the Commission gave the complainant unrestricted access to the requested list.

The Ombudsman welcomed the disclosure of the list but regrets the considerable delay in the Commission’s handling of the complainant’s access request. The Commission explained that it had been under particular pressure due to the heavy workload resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic. The Ombudsman closed the inquiry calling on the Commission to make sure that no similar delays occur in future.

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

Fredag | 19 februari 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.