Working Party Information Participants List

Ihre Anfrage war teilweise erfolgreich.

Dear Council of the EU,

Under the right of access to documents in the EU treaties, as developed in Regulation 1049/2001, I am requesting documents which contain the following information:

The participants in the Working Party on Information meeting held on Friday 9 March 2012.

Yours faithfully,

Helen Darbishire

Postmaster Consilium, Rat der Europäischen Union

Your message has been received by the Transparency and Access to Documents Unit of the General Secretariat of the Council of the European Union. All requests for access to documents are treated on the basis of Regulation (EC) No 1049/2001 of 30 May 2001 regarding public access to
European Parliament, Council and Commission documents. The General Secretariat will reply to your request within 15 working days upon registration of your request. Requests received before 5 PM on a working day are registered on the same day. Requests received after 5 PM are registered on the first following working day.

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SECRETARIAT DGF Access, Rat der Europäischen Union

2 Attachments

Please find attached a letter from the General Secretariat of the Council
concerning your request for access under Regulation 1049/2001.

 

Yours sincerely,

 

General Secretariat of the Council of the European Union

Transparency Service - Access to documents

Attn: Secretariat General of the Council of the EU
Your reference: 12/0470-mi/jj

Dear Jakob Thomsen

Thank you for your letter of 20 March 2012.

This is a confirmatory application to the Secretariat of the Council of the EU, which seeks full access to the document in the request I presented on behalf of the organisation Access Info Europe on 13 March 2012 for a list of the participants in the Working Party on Information meeting held on Friday 9 March 2012. A full history of the request and all correspondence is available on the Internet at this address:
http://www.asktheeu.org/request/working_...

The requested list is a list of persons attending a meeting of the European Union in their capacity as representatives of Member State governments to discuss a matter which is a legislative matter and part of a legislative process. The list contains data which allows for the identification of the persons who participated in the meeting (including in most cases, their names, functions, emails, and phone numbers).

The sign-in form for the meeting advises that the information is susceptible to being made public under Regulation 1049/2001 and requests government representatives to inform the General Secretariat of the Council if they feel that “the acceptance of such a request might affect your legitimate interests.”

It would seem that up to 5 persons (2 from Austria and 3 from the UK) have objected to the publication of their names. The UK delegation has asserted (in handwriting on the sheet) that the disclosure of their names would “seriously affect their legitimate interests” and note that this assertion is made in accordance with UK law although no further specificities are given about which interests are affected nor which provisions of UK law are being invoked.

Based upon these objections the Council has withheld from Access Info Europe the names of these persons, in compliance with the provisions of Regulation (EC) No 45/2001 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 18 December 2000 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, which require that the consent of the persons must be obtained before processing personal data.

It does not seem that the Council has taken into account Article 5.1.a of Regulation 45/2001 which permits the processing of personal data “for the performance of a task carried out in the public interest on the basis of the Treaties establishing the European Communities or other legal instruments adopted on the basis thereof or in the legitimate exercise of official authority vested in the Community institution or body or in a third party to whom the data are disclosed” and Article 5.1.b which permits processing when it is “necessary for compliance with a legal obligation to which the controller is subject”.

Given that responding to requests for information is a legal obligation of the Council and that the right of access to information a right protected by the EU treaties and Regulation 1049/2001, this legal obligation should have been taken into account when deciding whether or not to release the information. In other words, further consideration should have been given to Article 4.1.b of Regulation 1049/2001 which permits withholding of personal data only where disclosure would “disclosure would undermine the protection of ... privacy and the integrity of the individual, in particular in accordance with Community legislation regarding the protection of personal data.”

It is our assertion that the members of the Working Party on Information are acting in their capacity as public officials and therefore not acting in a private capacity. Indeed, the last paragraph of Article 15 of the TFEU requires that “the Council shall ensure publication of the documents relating to the legislative procedures”, a requirement which should also be read in the light of Article 15 paragraph 1 which states that “In order to promote good governance and ensure the participation of civil society, the Union institutions, bodies, offices and agencies shall conduct their work as openly as possible” and Article 15 paragraph 2 which requires that “The European Parliament shall meet in public, as shall the Council when considering and voting on a draft legislative act.” Hence, full information of the process in the Working Parties should be public and disclosure of the names of the participants cannot be construed as undermining the privacy of these individuals, as the data provided is data which relates exclusively to their public function: their names as public officials and work-related contact information.

Furthermore, Article 8 of Regulation 45/2001 permits the transfer of personal data to recipients, other than Community institutions and bodies, if either (a) if the recipient establishes that the data are necessary for the performance of a task carried out in the public interest or subject to the exercise of public authority, or (b) 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.
The refusal of this information prejudices the ability of Access Info Europe to provide views and to participate in legislative decision making, which is contingent upon such openness.

As a non-governmental organisation whose mandate it to promote the right of access to information and public participation in decision making, and which works specifically on the EU access to documents rules, Access Info Europe has a strong interest in knowing about and participating in the decision-making processes around the reform of Regulation 1049 which is one of the main agenda items being considered at the meeting for which we are seeking the participants list.

The possibility to form an opinion about the process of reform of Regulation 1049/2001 and to exercise the right to freedom of expression is hampered by not knowing who attends the meeting, information which would tell what level of government representative is participating, and who the individuals are so that we can assess their competence and stance on this issue.

Furthermore, the denial of this information blocks the right to participate because Access Info Europe is unable to provide the participants with materials containing our expert analysis of the process of the reform of Regulation 1049, materials summarizing the position of the organisation which I direct, Access Info Europe, and that of other organisations which have also expressed an opinion on the reform of Regulation 1049 /2001, a legal text which regulates a fundamental human right.

I request that the Secretariat General of the Council therefore gives due weight to these considerations and accepts that there is a necessity and prevailing interest in full access to the requested document.

I confirm that I am happy for my confirmatory application, my name, and any related documents and data pertinent to this rquest to be made public by the Council of the EU.

Yours sincerely

Helen Darbishire
Executive Director
Access Info Europe

SECRETARIAT DGF Access, Rat der Europäischen Union

1 Attachment

Dear Ms Darbishire,

Please find attached a letter from the General Secretariat of the Council
extending the time limit for the Council to reply to your confirmatory
application for public access under Regulation 1049/2001.

Yours sincerely,

General Secretariat of the Council of the European Union

Transparency Service - Access to documents

 
 

SECRETARIAT DGF Access, Rat der Europäischen Union

Dear Ms Darbishire,
 
Today, the Council is going to adopt the reply to your confirmatory
application dated 13 April 2012. Could you please send us your postal
address so that we can send you the official Council reply by registered
mail?
 
Yours sincerely
General Secretariat of the Council of the European Union
Transparency Service - Access to documents

SECRETARIAT DGF Access, Rat der Europäischen Union

2 Attachments

Dear Ms Darbishire,
 
Attached is the reply of the Council to your confirmatory application
dated 13 April2012. Could you please acknowledge receipt of this message?

 

Yours sincerely,

 

General Secretariat of the Council of the European Union

Transparency Service - Access to documents

 
 

Helen Darbishire

Dear Reijo

Thank you for your message with the refusal to release the full document. I confirm that I have received it.

I will keep you informed about our plans to appeal.

Yours sincerely,

Helen Darbishire

Helen Darbishire

Dear General Secretariat of the Council of the European Union,

A small request in respect to your message of 30 May, your ref 11/c/01/12: could you kindly send me the final decision in machine-readable format such as Word or open office?

Thank you in advance!

Best,

Helen Darbishire

SECRETARIAT DGF Access, Rat der Europäischen Union

1 Attachment

Dear Ms Darbishire,
Attached is a Word version of the decision sent to you on 30 May 2012.
Kind regards
General Secretariat of the Council of the European Union
Transparency Service - Access to documents

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