Ref. Ares(2015)3005907 - 16/07/2015
REGIONAL AND URBAN POLICY
NOTE FOR THE ATTENTION OF DG REGIO HEADS OF UNITS
Guidance on dealing with access to documents requests.
In view of the increase in access to documents requests and the number of difficult issues
encountered in dealing with them, I would like to highlight some key requirements to be
borne in mind when drafting replies on requests for access to documents:
• For each request for access to documents, it needs to be assessed individually
whether one of the exceptions of Article 4 Regulation (EC) No 1049/2001
• The exceptions of Article 4 of Regulation (EC) No 1049/2001 must be interpreted
and applied strictly.
• The examination of an application for access to documents must be specific in
• The mere fact that a document concerns an interest protected by an exception is
not sufficient to justify the application of that exception. It has to be assessed
whether access to the document could specifically and actually undermine the
protected interest. The risk of a protected interest being undermined must be
reasonably foreseeable and not purely hypothetical.
• In order to establish that the exception of Article 4(3) first subparagraph of
Regulation (EC) No 1049/2001 (on-going decision-making process) applies, the
decision-making process has to be “seriously” undermined. The serious nature
depends on all circumstances of the case.
• Articles 4(2) and 4(3) of the Regulation provide only "relative" exceptions. The
protected interest has to be balanced against any potential overriding public
interest in disclosure.
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