Dies ist eine HTML Version eines Anhanges der Informationsfreiheitsanfrage 'The travel expenses of Commissioner Crețu, for the period 1 March to 30 April 2016'.


 
EUROPEAN COMMISSION 
 
 
Brussels, 20.7.2017 
C(2017) 5273 final 
 
 
Helen DARBISHIRE  
Access Info Europe 
Calle Cava de San Miguel 8, 4c 
28005 Madrid 
Spain 
Email: 
[Emailadresse] 
 
 
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 2017/4129 

Dear Ms Darbishire, 
I refer to: 
 
-  the  Access Info Europe on-line campaign on Commissioners' travel expenses 
(https://www.access-info.org/commissioners-expenses launched on 25 January 
2017. Through that campaign, access was requested, under Article 6(1) of 
Regulation 1049/2001 regarding public access to European Parliament, Council 
and Commission documents2 ('Regulation 1049/2001'), to individual cost 
statements relating to all missions carried out by the Members of the Commission 
in 2016; 
 
-  your corresponding confirmatory application under Article 7(2) of Regulation 
1049/2001 of 13 March 2017, contesting inter alia the lack of an initial reply. 
 
                                                 

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 

1. 
SCOPE OF YOUR REQUEST 
In each of the 196 separate parts of the above-mentioned campaign, received between 25 
January 2017 and 28 February 2017, access was requested: 
[…]under the same circumstances and with the same arguments put forward in 
requests GESTDEM 2016/5975, 2016/6006, 2016/6010, 2016/6050, […] to the 
following documents: 

The travel expenses of Commissioner [….], for the [two-month] period […], as 
contained in the relevant mission summary fiches/settlement of mission expenses.  

Taken together, these separate parts would cover, for each of the 28 Commissioners, the 
period from 1 January 2016 until 31 December 2016. 
The Secretariat-General of the Commission sent you a first holding reply on 15 February 
2017. As the request concerned a very large number of documents, we subsequently sent 
you, on 27 February 2017, a proposal for a fair solution in the meaning of Article 6(3) of 
Regulation 1049/2001. On 8 June 2017, as the treatment of the request took more time 
than expected, we sent you a second holding reply, inviting you to post it on the Access 
Info Europe
 website.   
 
1.1. Proposal for a fair solution  
In the above-mentioned proposal for a fair solution of 27 February 2017, the Commission 
invited you to narrow down the scope of your request to a two-month period of your 
choice in 2015 or 2016.  
 
Indeed, as explained in that proposal for a fair solution, it was the first time that the 
Commission received such a large number of similarly worded 'requests', on a similar 
subject matter, during such a short period of time (the majority of the requests were 
submitted during the first three days of the campaign).  
 
The proposal for a fair solution therefore explained that, due to the large number of 
documents falling under the scope of the request, it would not be possible to handle the 
request within the statutory deadlines provided for in Regulation 1049/2001. In this 
context, we provided a detailed calculation regarding the estimated workload (in terms of 
number of working days) required for every step of the process.  
 
You rejected that proposal by message of 9 March 2017, inter alia maintaining your 
request that the Commission cover the full, 12-month scope of the campaign. 
 
1.2. Consequence of the failure to reach a fair solution: unilateral restriction 
of the scope of your request 

Article 6(3) of Regulation 1049/2001 states that, in case of an application relating to a 
very long document or to a very large number of documents, the institution may confer 
with the applicant informally, with a view to finding a fair solution
.  
 


However, as the Court recently confirmed in its recent Strack judgment3, in case such a 
fair solution cannot be reached, the institution has a right to unilaterally restrict the scope 
of the application to an amount of documents that can be handled within the statutory 
deadlines. Indeed, as stated by the Court, it flows from the principle of proportionality 
that the institutions may, in particular cases in which the volume of documents for which 
access is applied or in which the number of passages to be censured would involve an 
inappropriate administrative burden, balance the interest of the applicant for access 
against the workload resulting from the processing of the application for access in 
order to safeguard the interests of good administration

 
Thus, an institution may, in exceptional circumstances, refuse access to certain 
documents on the ground that the workload relating to their disclosure would be 
disproportionate as compared to the objectives set by the application for access to those 
documents. However, reliance on the principle of proportionality cannot allow the time-
limits laid down by Regulation No 1049/2001 to be changed without creating a situation 
of legal uncertainty

 
Furthermore, in its Ryanair judgment4, the General Court5 confirmed that Article 6(3) 
may not be evaded by splitting an application into several, seemingly separate, parts. 
 
As stated by the Court in the above-mentioned case law, the Commission needs to 
respect the principle of proportionality and ensure that the interest of the applicant for 
access is balanced against the workload resulting from the processing of the application 
for access in order to safeguard the interests of good administration

Accordingly, and in line with the earlier replies already provided on the same subject 
matter, the Commission has decided to restrict the temporal scope of the 'requests', taken 
together as one, to the months of January and February 2016. This balances the interest 
of the applicant for access against the workload resulting from the processing of the 
application for access and, in so doing, safeguards the interests of good administration. 
The above-mentioned temporal scope (January-February 2016) corresponds to the one 
relied on in the context of your earlier access request on the same subject, relating to 
Commissioner Jourová's mission cost statements. 
Against this background, the following documents have been identified:  
257 summary cost statements relating to the missions effected during the period 1 
January 2016 – 29 February 2016 by the President, Vice-Presidents and 
Commissioners then in office. 
                                                 
3   Judgment of the Court of 2 October 2014 in Case C-127/13, Guido Strack v Commission
ECLI:EU:C:2014:2250, paragraphs 27-28. 
4   Judgment of the General Court of 10 December 2010 in Case T-494/08, Ryanair v Commission
ECLI:EU:T:2010:511, paragraph 34. 
5   Then 'Court of First Instance'. 


1.3. Your wish that the Commission deal with all 196 parts of the campaign 
separately 

In your above-mentioned message of 9 March 2017, you insisted that the Commission 
deal with all 196 parts of your campaign, to which you referred as 'individual 
applications', separately. 
 
I would like to recall in this respect that, through the above-mentioned campaign 
launched on 25 January 2017, Access Info Europe invited citizens via a dedicated website 
to submit, under Regulation 1049/2001, parts of its request for access to individual 
mission cost statements of all Commissioners, presented to the Commission as (pre-
prepared) individual 'initial applications'. 
 
By 28 February 2017, the Commission had received 196 such 'requests' (including 28 
duplicates), the large majority of which were launched in the first three days of the 
campaign). Each of these 'requests' covered the mission cost statements relating to the 
missions carried out by a given Commissioner during a two-month period. 
 
From your above-mentioned correspondence with the Secretariat-General, I understand 
that you consider that those 196 'requests' should be registered and replied to separately. 
However, as clearly transpires from the above-mentioned website and from your 
correspondence with the Commission and its services, these 'requests' are undoubtedly 
part of a campaign. The objective of that campaign seems to be, to obtain more pro-
active publication of information about Commissioners' mission costs by the 
Commission.  
 
Indeed, the specific campaign website which Access Info Europe set up for that purpose, 
entitled  Our campaign to make transparent the travel expenses of EU Commissioners
states that: Citizens have a right to know how public funds are spent, yet until recently 
the travel costs for official trips by EU Commissioners was not public. Access Info has 
now won the right to access this information! Help us get all travel expenses of all EU 
Commissioners for 2016
 by submitting a request
.  
 
In this context, it is also important to note that, in December 2016 and January 2017, 
Access Info Europe had already received mission cost statements regarding six  
Commissioners (President Juncker, First Vice-President Timmermans and 
Commissioners Oettinger, Cañete, Stylianides, Jourová), following earlier requests for 
access to documents submitted (with the exception of one request) by Access Info 
Europe
6.  
 
Following the Commission's positive reply to the latter requests, Access Info Europe
                                                 
6   Under reference numbers GestDem 2016/5975, 2016/5981, 2016/6006, 2016/6010 (this request was 
not submitted by Access Info Europe but was sent from an e-mail address generated by Access Info 
Europe
's website Ask the EU, and is therefore publicly accessible on the latter website) and 2016/6050. 


-  contacted the Commission's Secretariat-General (unit B4) on 20 December 2016, 
making reference to one of those earlier access requests, and asking whether, in 
the event that other people would submit similar requests, they would receive a 
similar reply;  
-  launched the above-mentioned campaign on 25 January 2017, inviting citizens to 
submit, via dedicated website, pre-prepared initial requests for access under 
Regulation 1049/2001 to individual Commissioners' mission cost statements for 
2016; 
-  sent, in parallel, a letter to First Vice-President Timmermans, on 31 January 2017, 
calling for pro-active publication of detailed information regarding 
Commissioners' mission expenditure. I am responding separately and in parallel 
to this letter. 
Indeed, you split your current request into several quasi-simultaneous requests, 
articulated in such a way that, taken together, they cover a far wider scope than each of 
the above-mentioned earlier requests, both in terms of content and temporal scope7. Your 
wide-scope request, misleadingly presented as separate 'applications', thereby trying to 
evade the requirements of Article 6(3) of Regulation 1049/2001, covers all 
Commissioners' mission cost statements relating to missions carried out in 2016 and 
potentially amounts to thousands of documents. 
 
2. 
THE COMMISSION'S ASSESSMENT UNDER REGULATION 1049/2001 
Following the Commission's assessment, wide partial access is granted to all 257 mission 
summary fiches identified (covering all Commissioners' missions in January and 
February 2016, except those of Commissioner Jourová, for which the summary fiches 
were already released following your above-mentioned earlier request).  
Please find copies of the documents annexed. You may reuse the documents requested 
free of charge for non-commercial and commercial purposes, provided that the source is 
acknowledged and that you do not distort the original meaning or message of the 
document. Please note that the Commission does not assume liability stemming from the 
reuse. 
As was the case for the Commission's replies to the above-mentioned earlier requests, the 
undisclosed parts of the documents: 
-  are either covered by the exception concerning protection of privacy and the 
integrity of the individual, provided for in Article 4(1)(b) of Regulation 
1049/2001, as explained below; or 
                                                 
7As mentioned on your website: 'We launched our crowd-sourced Commissioner Travel Expenses 
Campaign on Thursday 26 January 2016. Via the click of a button, citizens are able to send 168 requests 
for the spending of all 28 Commissioners for two month periods in 2016.' 


-  contain information falling outside the scope of your request, i.e. going beyond 
the requested information to be able to ascertain how much was spent by each 
Commissioner on each mission 
[and representation cost] they have undertaken. 
Consequently, this additional information (such as such as details regarding the 
documentation provided, the reimbursement limits applied in specific cases, etc.) 
has also been redacted. 
The mission summary fiches contain the names, surnames and telephone numbers of 
Commission staff members not holding senior management positions, or of external 
individuals.   
These are undoubtedly personal data in the meaning of Article 2(a) of Regulation 
45/20018. It follows that public disclosure of the above-mentioned information would 
constitute processing (transfer) of personal data within the meaning of Article 8(b) of 
Regulation 45/2001.  
In the recent judgment 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 access
9. I refer also to the Strack case, where the Court of 
Justice ruled that the Institution does not have to examine by itself the existence of a need 
for transferring personal data10. 
In your application, you do not establish the necessity of having the data in question 
transferred.  
Furthermore, based on the information available, it cannot be presumed that the 
legitimate interests of the individuals concerned would not be prejudiced by the release 
of the personal data concerned. 
Therefore, the use of the exception under Article 4(1)(b) of Regulation 1049/2001 is 
justified, as there is no need to publicly disclose the personal data in question, and it 
cannot be assumed that the legitimate rights of the data subjects concerned would not be 
prejudiced by such disclosure. 
                                                 
8   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. 
9   Judgment of 16 July 2015, ClientEarth v EFSA, C-615/13P, EU:C:2015:489, paragraph 47. 
10   Judgment of 2 October 2014, Strack v Commission, C-127/13 P, EU:C:2014:2250, paragraph 106. 



3. 
PARTIAL ACCESS 
As explained above, the access which is granted is partial access in the meaning of 
Article 4(6) of Regulation 1049/2001. No further access is possible without undermining 
the interests referred to above. 
4. 
NO OVERRIDING PUBLIC INTEREST IN DISCLOSURE 
The exception provided for in Article 4(1)(b) of Regulation 1049/2001 does not require 
any assessment of the possible existence of an overriding public interest in disclosure.  
5. 
MEANS OF REDRESS 
Finally, 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. 
I would be grateful if you would post this decision on the Access Info Europe website, in 
order to allow all interested parties in the campaign to take note of it. 
 
Yours sincerely, 
 
 
 
 
For the Commission 
Alexander ITALIANER 
Secretary-General 

 
   
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
   
 
 
 
 
 


Document Outline