Dies ist eine HTML Version eines Anhanges der Informationsfreiheitsanfrage 'Correspondence between Mr. Juncker and Spanish Government'.


 
EUROPEAN COMMISSION 
 
 
Brussels, 29.3.2017 
C(2017) 2196 final 
 
 
 
 
Mr Jesús ESCUDERO 
Vía de las Dos Castillas, 33 
Ática 7, Planta 1-Oficinas E, F, G y 

E-28224 Pozuelo de Alarcón 
Madrid 
 
 
DECISION OF THE SECRETARY GENERAL ON BEHALF OF THE COMMISSION PURSUANT 
TO ARTICLE 4 OF THE IMPLEMENTING RULES TO REGULATION (EC) N° 1049/20011 
 
Subject: 
Your confirmatory application for access to documents under 
Regulation (EC) No 1049/2001 - GESTDEM 2016/5992 

Dear Mr Escudero, 
I refer to your e-mail of 22 December 2016, registered on the following day, in which 
you submit a confirmatory application in accordance with Article 7(2) of Regulation 
(EC) No 1049/2001 regarding public access to European Parliament, Council and 
Commission documents2 ('Regulation 1049/2001').  
1. 
SCOPE OF YOUR REQUEST 
In your initial application of 25 October 2016, you requested access to all 
correspondence (including letters, emails, phonelogs, minutes of meetings...) between the 
President of the European Commission Jean-Claude Juncker or his Cabinet since 
November 1st 2014 with: 
 

-  Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy or his Cabinet. 
-  Spanish Deputy Prime Minister Soraya Sáenz de Santamaría or her Cabinet. 
                                                 
 1 
Official Journal L 345 of 29.12.2001, p. 94. 
2    Official Journal L 145 of 31.5.2001, p. 43. 
 
Commission européenne/Europese Commissie, 1049 Bruxelles/Brussel, BELGIQUE/BELGIË - Tel. +32 22991111 

 
-  Spanish Minister of Economy Luis de Guindos or his Cabinet. 
 
At initial level, Directorate D Policy Coordination I informed you that it had identified 15 
documents falling within the scope of your request. It: 
 
-  granted full access to one document and wide partial access to documents 1 to 6, 
8 to 10 and 12 to 15, subject to redaction of personal data only, in accordance 
with Article 4(1)(b) (protection of privacy and the integrity of the individual) of 
Regulation 1049/2001;  
 
-  refused access to documents 7 and 11 on the basis of Article 4(1)(a), fourth indent 
(protection of the financial, monetary or economic policy of the Union or a 
Member State) of Regulation 1049/2001. 
 
By your confirmatory application you contest the initial decision of 19 December 2016 
not to grant access to documents 7 and 11. These documents are the following: 
 
–  Letter of 26 February 2016 addressed by Mr Rajoy Brey to Mr Juncker and one 
annex Ares(2016)1007386 (Document 7); 
–  Letter of 5 May 2016 addressed by Mr Rajoy Brey to Mr Juncker 
Ares(2016)2163483 (Document 11). 
 
You further indicate that you request access not only to the correspondence of the above-
mentioned persons but also to the correspondence of their Cabinets. You emphasise that 
you request all correspondence between the President of the European Commission Jean 
Claude Juncker or his Cabinet with Spanish Prier Minister Mariano Rajoy or his 
Cabinet, Spanish Deputy Prime Minister Soraya Sáez de Santamaría or her Cabinet and 
Spanish Minister of Economy Luis de Guindos or his Cabinet. 
You request explanations 
why such correspondence has not been identified.  
 
Finally, you indicate that document 143 mentions two enclosures, namely a leaflet with 
an overview of the progress made by the EFSI so far
 and a summary of the EFSI 
investments in Spain
. You contest that these enclosures were not transmitted to you. 
 
You underpin your confirmatory application with several arguments which I will address 
in detail below.  
2. 
ASSESSMENT AND CONCLUSIONS UNDER REGULATION 1049/2001 
When assessing a confirmatory application for access to documents submitted pursuant 
to Regulation 1049/2001, the Secretariat-General conducts a fresh review of the reply 
provided by the relevant service at the initial stage.  
                                                 
3   Letter of 27 September 2016 addressed by Mr Juncker to Mr Rajoy Ares(2016)5585462. 


 
As part of its review and following the clarification, in your confirmatory application, of 
the scope of your request, the Secretariat-General conducted a new search for additional 
documents which could fall within that scope. 
I am pleased to inform you that full access is granted to the following two enclosures to 
document 14 which were omitted in the initial decision due to a clerical error: 
–  A  leaflet with an overview of the progress made by the EFSI (Plan de inversions 
para Europa),  Ares(2016)5585462 (Enclosure 1);  
–  A summary of the EFSI investments in Spain, Ares(2016)5585462 (Enclosure 2). 
As regards the identification of documents, I confirm that the Commission does not hold 
any additional document, other than the documents already identified at initial stage, as 
falling within the scope of your request.  
2.1.  Consultation of the Spanish authorities 
Documents 7 and 11 originate from the Spanish authorities. According to Article 4(4) of 
Regulation 1049/2001, as regards third-party documents, the institution shall consult the 
third party with a view to assessing whether an exception in paragraph 1 or 2 is 
applicable, unless it is clear that the document shall or shall not be disclosed.
 According 
to Article 4(5) of Regulation 1049/2001, a Member State may request the institution not 
to disclose a document originating from that Member State without its prior agreement. 

Under the provisions of Article 4(4) and (5) of Regulation 1049/2001 and with a view to 
taking into account the arguments put forward in your confirmatory application, a 
renewed third-party consultation of the Spanish authorities was initiated by the 
Secretariat-General at confirmatory stage. The Spanish authorities opposed themselves to 
the release of the documents with reference to the exceptions of Article 4(1)(a), third and 
fourth indents (protection of the public interest as regards respectively international 
relations and the financial, monetary or economic policy of the Union or a Member 
State), as well as Article 4(2), third indent (protection of the purpose of inspections, 
investigations and audits) and Article 4(3), first subparagraph (protection of the decision-
making process) of Regulation 1049/2001. 
The Spanish authorities indicated that disclosure of the requested documents would 
undermine the public interest as regards the position of Spain in its international relations 
and the economic policy of Spain as member of the European Union and in the context of 
the Economic and Monetary Union.  
In particular, the Spanish authorities stated that the requested documents were sent by the 
Spanish Prime Minister to the President of the European Commission in the context of 
the excessive deficit procedure which is still ongoing.  


 
They explained further that, as provided for by Council Regulation 1467/974 on speeding 
up and clarifying the implementation of the excessive deficit procedure, the latter 
procedure can lead to the acknowledgement of non-compliance of the obligation to 
correct excessive deficits and the imposition on the Kingdom of Spain of a financial 
sanction. It is therefore a particularly serious procedure for any Member State and, 
consequently, any bilateral correspondence which forms part of such a procedure must be 
kept in the narrow field of the institutions which are responsible for applying this 
procedure.  
Furthermore, this procedure, which is similar to an infringement procedure, must also be 
protected while it is still ongoing, in accordance with Article 4(2), third indent 
(protection of the purpose of inspections, investigations and audits) of Regulation 
1049/2001.  
The Spanish authorities also pointed out that, in any case, Article 4(3), first subparagraph 
of Regulation 1049/2001 would allow the institution to withhold documents whose 
disclosure would seriously undermine the institution's decision-making process. In this 
case, public disclosure of the correspondence between the Commission and the Kingdom 
of Spain may negatively affect future decision-making, which can be particularly serious 
for Spain in the ongoing proceedings of Regulation 1467/97. This bilateral 
correspondence has taken place under the principle of sincere cooperation between 
Member States and institutions, was prepared for consideration in the procedure provided 
for in Regulation 1467/97 and was intended for internal use only. 
This procedure concerns in a very direct manner the economic policy of the Kingdom of 
Spain, as corrective measures are also decided during this procedure. The protection of 
Spain’s economic and financial policy should be seen as an overriding interest for these 
purposes. Therefore, Article 4(1)(a), fourth indent (protection of the financial, monetary 
or economic policy of the Union or a Member State) shall apply.  
2.2.  Commission's assessment 
I have carried out a prima facie assessment of the reply provided by the Spanish 
authorities and came to the conclusion that the arguments of the Spanish authorities 
prima facie justify the non-disclosure of parts of the documents covered by the 
exceptions of Article 4(1)(a), third and fourth indents (protection of the public interest as 
regards respectively the financial, monetary or economic policy of the Union or a 
Member State, and international relations), Article 4(2), third indent (protection of the 
purpose of inspections, investigations and audits) and Article 4(3), first subparagraph 
(protection of the decision-making process) of Regulation 1049/2001. 
 
Furthermore, personal data appearing in the documents have been redacted in accordance 
with Article 4(1)(b) (protection of privacy and the integrity of the individual) of  
Regulation 1049/2001. 
                                                 
4   Council Regulation (EC) No 1467/97 of 7 July 1997 on speeding up and clarifying the implementation 
of the excessive deficit procedure, Official Journal L 209, 2.8.1997, p. 6–11. 


 
The detailed reasons are set out below. 
Please note that some parts of Documents 7 and 11 are not covered by any exception of 
Regulation 1049/2001. The parts that are not covered by any exception of Regulation 
1049/2001 are either declarations of the government which are in the public domain, 
general information or data related to the past performance of the Spanish economy.  The 
data related to the past performance of the Spanish economy have been rendered public 
through the Council decisions which addressed the excessive deficit in Spain since 
20095, through publication of statistical data on the performance of the Spanish economy, 
articles in the press6, declarations and publications of the Spanish government7 and 
Commission reports and recommendations8.  
I would like to specify that Document 7 is composed by a letter and an annex. The letter 
of 26 February 2016 is only a transmission letter and it does not contain information 
relating to the excessive deficit of Spain. Therefore, it is not covered by any of the 
invoked exceptions. It is, however, subject to redaction of personal data in accordance 
with Article 4(1)(b) (protection of privacy and the integrity of the individual). 
Access is granted to the transmission letter of 26 February 2016 subject to redaction of 
personal data only (part of Document 7). As to the annex to this letter (part of Document 
7) and the letter of 5 May 2016 (Document 11), access is granted to those parts of the 
requested documents which are not covered by any exceptions of Regulation 1049/2001. 
2.3.  Protection of privacy and integrity  
Article 4(1)(b) of Regulation 1049/2001 provides that access to documents is refused 
where disclosure would undermine the protection of privacy and integrity of the 
individual, in particular in accordance with Community legislation regarding the 
protection of personal data.  

In its judgment in the Bavarian Lager case9, the Court of Justice ruled that when a 
request is made for access to documents containing personal data, Regulation (EC) 
No. 45/200110 (hereinafter the 'Data Protection Regulation') becomes fully applicable. In 
this judgment the Court stated that Article 4(1)(b) requires that any undermining of 
privacy and the integrity of the individual must always be examined and assessed in 

                                                 
5   See for example http://data.consilium.europa.eu/doc/document/ST-11555-2016-INIT/en/pdf. 
6   See for example http://elpais.com/elpais/2017/02/17/media/1487326778_968659.html. 
7   http://www.mineco.gob.es/stfls/mineco/comun/pdf/160509_np_estabilidad.pdf.  
8   For 
example, 
https://ec.europa.eu/info/business-economy-euro/economic-and-fiscal-policy-
coordination/eu-economic-governance-monitoring-prevention-correction/stability-and-growth-
pact/corrective-arm-excessive-deficit-procedure/ongoing-excessive-deficit-procedures/spain_en.   
9   Judgment of the Court of Justice of 29 June 2010, European Commission v The Bavarian Lager Co. 
Ltd, Case C-28/08P, EU:C:2010:378, paragraph 59. 
10    Regulation (EC) No 45/2001 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 18 December 2000 on 
the protection of individuals with regard to the processing of personal data by the Community 
institutions and bodies and on the free movement of such data, Official Journal L 8 of 12.1.2001. 


 
conformity with the legislation of the Union concerning the protection of personal data, 
and in particular with Regulation No 45/200111. 

Article 2(a) of the Data Protection Regulation provides that 'personal data' shall mean 
any information relating to an identified or identifiable person […]. 
As the Court of 
Justice confirmed in Case C-465/00 (Rechnungshof)12, there is no reason of principle to 
justify excluding activities of a professional […] nature from the notion of private life.  

The letter of 26 February 2016 (part of Document 7) contains the hand-written signature 
of Mr Rajoy Brey, which is biometric data to be considered as personal data in the sense 
of Article 2(a) of Data Protection Regulation 45/2001.  
Pursuant to Article 8(b) of Regulation 45/2001, the Commission can only transmit 
personal data to a recipient subject to Directive 95/46/EC if the recipient establishes the 
necessity of having the data transferred and if there is no reason to assume that the data 
subject's legitimate interests might be prejudiced. Those two conditions are cumulative.13   
Only if both conditions are fulfilled and the processing constitutes lawful processing in 
accordance with the requirements of Article 5 of  Regulation 45/2001, can the processing 
(transfer) of personal data occur. 
In the ClientEarth case, the Court of Justice ruled that whoever requests such a transfer 
must first establish that it is necessary. If it is demonstrated to be necessary, it is then for 
the institution concerned to determine that there is no reason to assume that that transfer 
might prejudice the legitimate interests of the data subject. If there is no such reason, the 
transfer requested must be made, whereas, if there is such a reason, the institution 
concerned must weigh the various competing interests in order to decide on the request 
for access14.  
 
In your confirmatory application, you do not put forward any arguments to establish the 
necessity of, nor any interest in access to the personal data contained in Documents 7 
(transmission letter) and Document 11. 
Furthermore, there are reasons to assume that the legitimate interests of the individual 
concerned would be prejudiced by disclosure of the personal data included in this 
document, as there is a real and non-hypothetical risk that such public disclosure would 
expose it to specific risks, for example forgery of its signature or identity theft.  
Consequently, pursuant to Article 4(1)(b) of Regulation 1049/2001, access is refused to 
the signature of Mr Rajoy Brey included in Documents 7 (transmission letter) and 
Document 11. 
                                                 
11   Paragraph 59. 
12   Judgment of the Court of 20 May 2003 in joined cases C-465/00, C-138/01 and C-139/01, preliminary 
rulings in proceedings between Rechnungshof and Österreichischer Rundfunk, EU:C:2003:294, 
paragraph 73. 
13   Judgment of the Court of Justice of 29 June 2010, Bavarian Lager, quoted above, paragraphs 77-78. 
14   Case C-615/13P, Judgment of the Court of Justice 16 July 2015 ClientEarth v EFSA, EU:C:2015:489, 
paragraph 47. 


 
I would also like to point out that Article 4(1)(b) has an absolute character and does not 
envisage the possibility to demonstrate the existence of an overriding public interest. 
2.4.  Protection of financial, monetary or economic policy of the Union or a 
Member State 
Article 4(1)(a), fourth indent of Regulation 1049/2001 provides that [t]he institutions 
shall refuse access to a document where disclosure would undermine the protection of 
the public interest as regards the financial, monetary or economic policy of the Union or 
a Member State.  

The EU Courts have acknowledged that the institutions enjoy a wide discretion when 
considering whether access to a document may undermine the public interest15. 
The withheld parts of Documents 7 (annex) and 11 concern detailed considerations of the 
Spanish Government related to the assessment of its deficit in the context of Regulation 
1467/97. 
Spain has been subject to an excessive deficit procedure since April 2009, when the 
Council issued a recommendation calling for its deficit to be corrected by 2012. In 
December 2009 however, the Council extended the deadline to 2013. In July 2012, the 
Council extended the deadline for a further year to 2014 on account of renewed adverse 
economic circumstances. In June 2013, the Council found that Spain fulfilled the 
conditions for extending the deadline for correcting its deficit by a further two years, 
setting a new deadline of 2016. On 12 July 2016, the Council decided that Spain had not 
taken effective action in response to its recommendations on measures to correct its 
excessive deficit16.  
On 8 August 2016, the Council agreed not to impose a fine to Spain for its failure to take 
effective action to correct its excessive deficit17. The Council considered that a credible 
and sustainable adjustment path requires Spain to achieve general government deficits of 
4.6%, 3.1% and 2.2% of GDP in 2016, 2017 and 2018 respectively18. The new deadlines 
set by the Council are based on article 126(9) of the TFEU. Spain is now required to 
correct its deficit by 2018 at the latest.  
The withheld parts of Documents 7 (annex) and 11 concern detailed considerations of the 
Spanish Government related to the assessment of its deficit in the context of Regulation 
1467/97. These documents were not intended for public disclosure. They contain 
considerations, views, analyses, calculations and conclusions of the Spanish Government 
related to the deficit in Spain provided to the President of the Commission. As explained 
above, the deadlines set by the Council to Spain to correct its deficit are prolonged by 
2018. Therefore, they remain still relevant for the ongoing efforts of Spain to correct its 
                                                 
15   Judgment of the Court of First Instance of 25 April 2007, WWF European Policy Programme v 
Council, T-264/04, EU:T:2007:114, paragraph 40. 
16   http://data.consilium.europa.eu/doc/document/ST-10793-2016-INIT/en/pdf. 
17   http://data.consilium.europa.eu/doc/document/ST-11555-2016-INIT/en/pdf. 
18   http://www.consilium.europa.eu/en/press/press-releases/2016/08/08-excessive-deficit-portugal-spain/. 


 
excessive deficit effectively, as they reflect possible options and strategies considered by 
the Spanish Government. Tackling an excessive deficit promptly and effectively is not 
only an essential element of Spain's economic policy, but also an essential element of the 
Union's economic policy.  
These findings are supported by the detailed explanations provided by the Spanish 
authorities in the framework of the Commission's consultations cited above. 
Therefore, I conclude that the withheld parts of the requested documents are covered by 
the exception of Article 4(1)(a), fourth indent of Regulation 1049/2001 (protection of 
financial, monetary or economic policy of the Union or a Member State). 
Please note that the exception of Article 4(1)(a), fourth indent of Regulation 1049/2001 
has an absolute character and does not envisage the possibility to demonstrate the 
existence of an overriding public interest. 
2.5.  Protection of the public interest as regards international relations 
Article 4(1)(a), third indent, of Regulation 1049/2001 provides that the institutions shall 
refuse access to a document where disclosure would undermine the protection of (…) the 
public interest as regards international relations. 
 
The Court of Justice has confirmed that it is clear from the wording of Article 4(1)(a) of 
Regulation No 1049/2001 that, as regards the exceptions to the right of access provided 
for by that provision, refusal of access by the institution is mandatory where disclosure 
of a document to the public would undermine the interests which that provision protects, 
without the need, in such a case and in contrast to the provisions, in particular, of Article 
4(2), to balance the requirements connected to the protection of those interests against 
those which stem from other interests
19. 
According to the General Court, the institutions enjoy a wide discretion when 
considering whether access to a document may undermine the public interest
 and, 
consequently, […] the Courts review of the legality of the institutions' decisions refusing 
access to documents on the basis of the mandatory exceptions relating to the public 
interest must be limited to verifying whether the procedural rules and the duty to state 
reasons have been complied with, the facts have been accurately stated, and whether 
there has been a manifest error of assessment of the facts or a misuse of powers20. 

As explained by the Spanish authorities in their detailed reply to the Commission 
consultation, Documents 7 (annex) and 11 contain information which is not public, the 
disclosure of which, at this stage, could have a negative impact on the international 
relations of Spain in areas related to its economic policy and its financing in international 
markets.  
                                                 
19   Judgement of the Court of Justice of 1 February 2007 in case C-266/05 P, Sison v Council
EU:C:2007:75, paragraph 46. 
20   Judgement of the General Court, at the time Court of First Instance, of 25 April 2007 in case T-264/04, 
WWF European Policy Programme v Council, EU:T:2007:114, paragraph 40. 


 
I therefore conclude that non-disclosure, at this stage, of the withheld parts of Documents 
7 (annex) and 11 is justified on the basis of Article 4(1)(a), third indent of Regulation 
1049/2001. I would also like to point out this exception has an absolute character and 
does not envisage the possibility to demonstrate the existence of an overriding public 
interest.  
2.6.  Protection of the decision-making process 
Article 4(3), first subparagraph of Regulation 1049/2001 provides that [a]ccess to a 
document, drawn up by an institution for internal use or received by an institution, which 
relates to a matter where the decision has not been taken by the institution, shall be 
refused if disclosure of the document would seriously undermine the institution's 
decision-making process, unless there is an overriding public interest in disclosure. 

On 27 April 2009, the Council decided, in accordance with Article 104(6) of the Treaty 
establishing the European Community (TEC), that an excessive deficit existed in Spain 
and issued a recommendation to correct the excessive deficit by 2012 at the latest, in 
accordance with Article 104(7) of that Treaty. Since then, the Council has issued three 
new recommendations to Spain (on 2 December 2009, 10 July 2012 and 21 June 2013) 
on the basis of Article 126(7) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union 
(TFEU), which extended the deadline for correcting the excessive deficit to 2013, 2014 
and 2016 respectively. In all three recommendations, the Council considered that Spain 
had taken effective action, but unexpected adverse economic events with major 
unfavourable consequences for government finances had occurred21. 
Although the Council agreed on 8 August 2016 not to impose a fine on Spain for its 
failure to take effective action to correct its excessive deficit, it set a new correction 
deadline by 2018 and gave notice of measures to be taken22.  
It is clear from the above that the final decision relating to the correction of the Spanish 
deficit is still pending until 2018. The withheld parts of Documents 7 (annex) and 11 
remain highly relevant for the ongoing decision-making process relating to the excessive 
Spanish deficit. The importance of tackling excessive deficits effectively and promptly 
makes it essential to maintain high level of trust among the Commission and Spain all 
along the ongoing decision-making process. 
Therefore, if the withheld parts of Documents 7 (annex) and 11 would become public at 
this stage, there is a realistic and non-hypothetical, serious risk that the ongoing decision-
making process would be undermined. Public disclosure, at this stage, against the 
expressed and repeated opposition of Spain, would make known the strategy and 
considerations of the Spanish government related to the extensive deficit in Spain, 
thereby restricting the margin of manoeuver of the Spanish government for the correction 
of the excessive deficit. This would seriously jeopardise the atmosphere of good inter-
institutional collaboration, put under strain the relations of Spain with the European 
                                                 
21 
 All documents related to the excessive deficit procedure of Spain can be found at: 
http://ec.europa.eu/economy_finance/economic_governance/sgp/deficit/countries/spain_en.htm.  
22   http://data.consilium.europa.eu/doc/document/ST-11552-2016-INIT/en/pdf.  


 
institutions and reduce the Commission's leverage in the ongoing procedure, thus 
jeopardising the success of the ongoing decision-making process.  
Against this background, I consider that the disclosure of the withheld parts of 
Documents 7 (annex) and 11 would seriously undermine the ongoing decision-making 
process in the meaning of Article 4(3), first subparagraph of Regulation 1049/2001. 
2.7.  Protection of the purpose of inspections, investigations and audits 
Article 4(2), third indent of Regulation 1049/2001 stipulates that: 
The institutions shall refuse access to a document where disclosure would undermine the 
protection of (…) the purpose of inspections, investigations and audits (…) unless there 
is an overriding public interest in disclosure.  

Article 2(2) of Regulation 1467/97 refers to the role of the Commission and the Council, 
when assessing and deciding upon the existence of an excessive deficit in accordance 
with Article 126(3) to (6) TFEU. Article 2(3) of Regulation 1467/97 stipulates that the 
Commission, when preparing a report under Article 126(3) TFEU, shall take into account 
all relevant factors as indicated in that Article, in so far as they significantly affect the 
assessment of compliance with the deficit and debt criteria by the Member State 
concerned. The activity of the Commission in this field requires the collection of several 
data, and an assessment based on a multitude of factors stipulated in Regulation 1467/97.  
The aim of the exception of Article 4(2), third indent of Regulation 1049/2001 is not to 
protect the investigations as such, but rather their purpose which, in the present case, is to 
induce the Spanish authorities to comply with European law. According to settled case-
law, various acts of investigation remain covered by the exception as long as that goal 
has not been attained. 
In its LPN judgment the Court of Justice ruled that a general presumption for the 
protection to ongoing infringement proceedings is deemed to exist: [i]t can be presumed 
that the disclosure of the documents concerning an infringement procedure during its 
pre-litigation stage risks altering the nature of that procedure and changing the way it 
proceeds and, accordingly, that disclosure would in principle undermine the protection 
of the purpose of investigations, within the meaning of the third indent of Article 4(2) of 
Regulation No 1049/2001
23 . 
This reasoning was confirmed by the Court of Justice in the appeal to Client Earth 
judgment24.  
In the light of the above, I consider that public access to the withheld parts of Documents 
7 (annex) and 11 has to be refused, as its disclosure would undermine the purpose of the 
                                                 
23   Judgment of the Court in joined cases C-514/11 P and C-605/11 P, Liga para a Protecção da Natureza 
(LPN) and Republic of Finland v European Commission, EU:C:2013:738, paragraph 65. 
24 
Judgment of the Court of 16 July 2015 in Case C-612/13P, ClientEarth v European Commission, 
EU:C:2015:486, paragraph 72. 
10 

 
investigations mentioned above, protected by Article 4(2), third indent of Regulation 
1049/2001. 
3. 
NO OVERRIDING PUBLIC INTEREST IN DISCLOSURE 
The exceptions laid down in Articles 4(2) and 4(3) of Regulation 1049/2001 must be 
waived if there is an overriding public interest in disclosure. Such an interest must, first, 
be public and, second, outweigh the harm caused by disclosure. 
You have not substantiated, in your confirmatory application, the existence of any public 
interest that would override the protection of purpose of the investigations and the 
decision-making process protected respectively by Article 4(2), third indent and 4(3), 
first subparagraph of Regulation 1049/2001. Nor have I been able, based on the elements 
at my disposal, to identify such an interest. 
Consequently, I consider that, in the present case, the prevailing interest lies in protecting 
the purpose of the investigations and the decision-making process as protected by the 
exceptions in Article 4(2), third indent and Article 4(3), first subparagraph of Regulation 
1049/2001. 
Please note that the requested documents are also covered by the exceptions of Articles 
4(1)(a), third and fourth indents and 4(1)(b) of Regulation 1049/2001. These exceptions 
have an absolute character and do not envisage the possibility to demonstrate the 
existence of an overriding public interest. 
4. 
DISCLOSURE AGAINST THE EXPLICIT OPINION OF THE AUTHOR 
According to Article 5(5) and (6) of Commission Decision of 5 December 2001 
amending its rules of procedure25,  [t]he third-party author consulted shall have a 
deadline for reply which shall be no shorter than five working days but must enable the 
Commission to abide by its own deadlines for reply. In the absence of an answer within 
the prescribed period, or if the third party is untraceable or not identifiable, the 
Commission shall decide in accordance with the rules on exceptions in Article 4 of 
Regulation (EC) No 1049/2001, taking into account the legitimate interests of the third 
party on the basis of the information at its disposal. If the Commission intends to give 
access to a document against the explicit opinion of the author, it shall inform the author 
of its intention to disclose the document after a ten-working day period and shall draw 
his attention to the remedies available to him to oppose disclosure. 

Since the decision to grant partial access to Documents 7 and 11 is taken against the 
objection of the Spanish authorities, the Commission will inform the Spanish authorities 
of its decision to give partial access to the documents requested. The Commission will 
not grant such partial disclosure until a period of ten working days has elapsed from the 
                                                 
25   Commission Decision of 5 December 2001amending its rules of procedure (notified under document 
number C(2001) 3714), O.J. of 29.12.2001, L 345, p. 94.  
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formal notification of its intention to disclose the documents to the Spanish authorities, in 
accordance with the provisions mentioned above.  
 
This time-period will allow the Spanish authorities to inform the Commission whether it 
will object to the disclosure using the remedies available to it, i.e. an application for 
annulment and an application for interim measures before the General Court. Once this 
period has elapsed, and if the Spanish authorities have not signalled their intention to 
avail themselves of the remedies at their disposal, the Commission will forward the 
documents to you. 
5. 
MEANS OF REDRESS 
I would like to draw your attention to the means of redress that are available against this 
decision, that is, judicial proceedings and complaints to the Ombudsman under the 
conditions specified respectively in Articles 263 and 228 of the Treaty on the 
Functioning of the European Union. 
 
Yours sincerely, 
 
 
 
For the Commission 
Alexander ITALIANER 
Secretary-General 
 

 
 

Enclosures (2) 
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Document Outline