Ref. Ares(2019)4482866 - 11/07/2019
OFFICE FOR THE ADMINISTRATION AND PAYMENT OF INDIVIDUAL ENTITLEMENTS
The Acting Director
Mrs N. L. Prevost
Access Info Europe
Calle Cava de San Miguel 8, 4c
28005 Madrid, Spain
Your application for access to documents under Regulation (EC) No
1049/2001 - GESTDEM 2019/3565
Dear Mrs Prevost,
We refer to your email dated 19.06.2019, in which you make a request for access to
documents, registered under the above-mentioned reference number.
You request access to documents which contain information on the travel expenses of the
Director General Jean-Eric Paquet, the Deputy Director General Wolfgang Burtscher, the
Deputy Director General Patrick Anthony Child, the Deputy Director General Signe
Ratso for the period 1 January 2017 to 31 December 2018 inclusive.
More specifically, you seek to obtain documents that contain, for each of the trips, the
- Place of origin and destination, and the amount spent on travel or transportation;
- Exact dates and duration of the trip;
- Amount spent on accommodation;
- Amount spent on subsistence;
- Other information, such as possible miscellaneous costs.
You also request that if the travel was by air taxi and a team of people were travelling, to
have documents with details on the other travellers (at a minimum, names and job titles).
The Commission has identified the mission costs summary fiches relating to the official
missions of Mr Paquet, Mr Burtscher, Mr Child and Ms Ratso carried out during the
European Commission - B-1049 Brussels – Belgium - Telephone: (32-2) 299 11 11
Office: MERO 09/P074- Telephone: direct line (32-2) 295 27 99
period 1 January 2017 to 31 December 2018 inclusive as falling under the scope of your
Having examined your request under the provisions of Regulation (EC) No 1049/2001
regarding public access to documents, I regret to inform you that access to the documents
requested cannot be granted, as disclosure is prevented by an exception to the right of access
laid down in Article 4 of this Regulation.
Pursuant to Article 4(1)(b) of Regulation (EC) No 1049/2001, access to a document has to
be refused if its disclosure would undermine the protection of privacy and the integrity of
the individual, in particular in accordance with European Union legislation regarding the
protection of personal data.
The applicable legislation in this field is Regulation (EU) 2018/1725 of the European
Parliament and of the Council of 23 October 2018 on the protection of natural persons
with regard to the processing of personal data by the Union institutions, bodies, offices and
agencies and on the free movement of such data, and repealing Regulation (EC) No 45/2001
and Decision No 1247/2002/EC1 (‘Regulation 2018/1725’).
In its judgment in Case C-28/08 P (Bavarian Lager
)2, the Court of Justice ruled that when a
request is made for access to documents containing personal data, the Data Protection
Regulation becomes fully applicable.
The mission cost data of a Director General and/or Deputy Director General of the
Commission, to which you request access, are undoubtedly personal data in the meaning
of Article 3(1) of Regulation 2018/1725 which provides that personal data ‘means any
information relating to an identified or identifiable natural person […]’.
As the Court of Justice confirmed in Case C-465/00 (Rechnungshof
)3, there is no reason
of principle to justify excluding activities of a professional […] nature from the notion of
Pursuant to Article 9(1)(b) of Regulation 2018/1725, ‘personal data shall only be
transmitted to recipients established in the Union other than Union institutions and bodies
if ‘[t]he recipient establishes that it is necessary to have the data transmitted for a
specific purpose in the public interest and the controller, where there is any reason to
assume that the data subject’s legitimate interests might be prejudiced, establishes that it
is proportionate to transmit the personal data for that specific purpose after having
demonstrably weighed the various competing interests’.
1 Official Journal L 205 of 21.11.2018, p. 39.
2 Judgment of 29 June 2010 in Case C-28/08 P, European Commission v The Bavarian Lager Co. Ltd
EU:C:2010:378, paragraph 59.
3 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
, paragraph 73.
Only if these conditions are fulfilled and the processing constitutes lawful processing in
accordance with the requirements of Article 5 of Regulation 2018/1725, can the
transmission of personal data occur.
You have not put forward any arguments supporting the necessity of disclosing any of
the above-mentioned personal data. I also refer to the Strack
case, where the Court of
Justice ruled that, if an applicant does not substantiate the need for obtaining access to
personal data, the institution does not have to examine by itself the existence of a need
for transferring such data4.
Nevertheless, please allow me to emphasise that the travel costs of Commission staff are
subject to the audit and control procedures established by the EU Treaties, and that a
Director General and a Deputy Director General are not public office holders.
Consequently, I conclude that, pursuant to Article 4(1)(b) of Regulation (EC) No
1049/2001, access cannot be granted to the personal data, as the need to obtain access
thereto for a purpose in the public interest has not been substantiated and there is no
reason to think that the legitimate interests of the individuals concerned would not be
prejudiced by disclosure of the personal data concerned.
In case you would disagree with the assessment that the withheld data are personal data
which can only be disclosed if such disclosure is legitimate under the applicable rules on
the protection of personal data, you are entitled, in accordance with Article 7(2) of
Regulation 1049/2001, to make a confirmatory application requesting the Commission to
review this position.
Such a confirmatory application should be addressed within 15 working days upon
receipt of this letter to the Secretary-General of the Commission at the following address:
Transparency, Document Management & Access to Documents (SG.C.1)
or by email to: firstname.lastname@example.org
4 Judgment of the Court of Justice of 2 October 2014 in case C-127/13 P, Strack v Commission
(ECLI:EU:C:2014:2250), paragraph 106.
Electronically signed on 11/07/2019 17:27 (UTC+02) in accordance with article 4.2 (Validity of electronic documents) of Commission Decision 2004/563