Ref. Ares(2020)7687535 - 17/12/2020
ENVIRONMENT Directorate B - Circular Economy & Green Growth
ENV.B.2 - Sustainable Chemicals
7326 AH Apeldoorn
Dear Mr Harmsen, Subject:
Your application for access to documents – Ref GestDem No 2020-5417
We refer to your email of 11/09/2020, in which you make a request for access to documents
registered under the above-mentioned reference number, to our holding reply Ref. Ares(5324011) –
07/10/2020, and to our letter Ref. Ares(2020)5994999 – 27/10/2020 requesting more time for the
processing of your request. We sincerely apologise for the delay in replying and for any
inconvenience this may have caused.
You requested the following: “documents which contain the following information:
- all correspondence (including letters, emails and text messages), agendas, minutes of meetings,
minutes of phone calls, reports and any kind of other policy documents, where the German
laboratory LPT (Laboratory of Pharmacology and Toxicology) was discussed/mentioned/referred
to, especially, but not exclusively, in relation to possible fraud/forgery of test data and/or
mistreatment of test animals. Time frame of this request: Between December 1st 2018 and
September 1st 2020.
Please see in the Annex to this letter a list of the documents that fall in the scope of your request.
Having examined these documents under the provisions of Regulation (EC) No 1049/2001
regarding public access to European Parliament, Council and Commission documents, we have
come to the following conclusions:
- The documents referred to under numbers 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 in the attached Annex contain personal
data, which have been redacted. 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/EC (‘Regulation 2018/1725’).
Commission européenne/Europese Commissie, 1049 Bruxelles/Brussel, BELGIQUE/BELGIË - Tel. +32 22991111
Indeed, Article 3(1) of Regulation 2018/1725 provides that personal data ‘means any information
relating to an identified or identifiable natural person […]’. The Court of Justice has specified that
any information, which by reason of its content, purpose or effect, is linked to a particular person is
to be considered as personal data1.
Please also note in this respect that the names, signatures, functions, telephone numbers and/or
initials pertaining to staff members of an institution are to be considered personal data2.
In its judgment in Case C-28/08 P (Bavarian Lager)3, the Court of Justice ruled that when a request
is made for access to documents containing personal data, the Data Protection Regulation becomes
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’.
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
According to Article 9(1)(b) of Regulation 2018/1725, the European Commission has to examine
the further conditions for a lawful processing of personal data only if the first condition is fulfilled,
namely if the recipient has established that it is necessary to have the data transmitted for a specific
purpose in the public interest. It is only in this case that the European Commission has to examine
whether there is a reason to assume that the data subject’s legitimate interests might be prejudiced
and, in the affirmative, establish the proportionality of the transmission of the personal data for that
specific purpose after having demonstrably weighed the various competing interests.
In your request, you do not put forward any arguments to establish the necessity to have the data
transmitted for a specific purpose in the public interest. Therefore, the European Commission does
not have to examine whether there is a reason to assume that the data subject’s legitimate interests
might be prejudiced.
1 Judgment of the Court of Justice of the European Union of 20 December 2017 in Case C-434/16, Peter Nowak v Data
, request for a preliminary ruling, paragraphs 33-35, ECLI:EU:C:2017:994.
2 Judgment of the General Court of 19 September 2018 in case T-39/17, Port de Brest v Commission
3 Judgment of 29 June 2010 in Case C-28/08 P, European Commission v The Bavarian Lager Co.
, EU:C:2010:378, paragraph 59.
4 Whereas this judgment specifically related to 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, the principles set out therein are also applicable under the new data
protection regime established by Regulation 2018/1725.
Notwithstanding the above, please note that there are reasons to assume that the legitimate interests
of the data subjects concerned would be prejudiced by disclosure of the personal data reflected in
the documents, as there is a real and non-hypothetical risk that such public disclosure would harm
their privacy and subject them to unsolicited external contacts.
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.
As to the handwritten signatures contained in some of the documents, which are biometric data,
there is a risk that their disclosure would prejudice the legitimate interests of the persons concerned.
- Parts of the documents referred to under numbers 5 and 6 in the attached Annex fall out of the
scope of your request, as they are not related to its specific subject. These parts have been therefore
blanked out, with a written indication “out of scope” in the corresponding paragraph(s).
In case you would disagree with the above-mentioned positions, you are entitled, in accordance with
Article 7(2) of Regulation (EC) No 1049/2001, to submit a confirmatory application requesting the
Commission to review these positions.
Such a confirmatory application should be addressed within 15 working days upon receipt of this
letter to the Secretariat-General of the Commission at the following address:
Unit C.1. ‘Transparency, Document Management and Access to Documents’
B-1049 Brussels, or by email to: email@example.com.
ENV B02 ARES (firstname.lastname@example.org)
On behalf of the Head of Unit
Electronically signed on 16/12/2020 20:42 (UTC+01) in accordance with article 11 of Commission Decision C(2020) 4482