Ref. Ares(2015)1350426 - 27/03/2015
Ref. Ares(2016)4162935 - 05/08/2016
Unit B4 - Transparency
ACCESS TO NAMES AND FUNCTIONS OF COMMISSION STAFF
Commission services receive a large number of requests each year under Regulation
1049/2001, for access to documents (e.g. e-mails1, copies of correspondence, meeting
minutes) which include the names and functions of Commission staff.
This note sets out the approach to follow in such cases.
It aims to strike a fair balance between the right of access to documents2 and the right to
personal data protection3. It also takes into account the fact that, in most cases, requestors
are interested in the substance of the documents rather than in the personal data
This approach consists of granting, in principle, access to the names and functions of
Commissioners and their cabinet members and staff in senior management positions4.
This access is exceptionally extended to the names and functions of staff not occupying
any senior management position, if the need thereto has been clearly substantiated and
there are no reasons to assume that the legitimate rights of the individuals concerned
might be prejudiced5.
1 These are only considered documents to the extent that they are registered or should have been
registered in Ares in accordance with the document management rules.
2 As defined in Article 15(3) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU) and
Regulation 1049/2001 of 30 May 2001 regarding public access to European Parliament, Council and
3 As defined in Article 16(1) of the TFEU and Regulation 45/2001 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 Court of Justice confirmed that there is no
reason of principle to justify excluding activities of a professional […] nature from the notion of
: 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
4 Secretary-General, Directors-General, Directors.
5 As required by Article 8(b) of Regulation 45/2001.
Commission européenne/Europese Commissie, 1049 Bruxelles/Brussel, BELGIQUE/BELGIË - Tel. +32 22991111
Office: BERL 5/340
2. BASIC PRINCIPLE: REFUSAL FOR STAFF NOT OCCUPYING ANY SENIOR MANAGEMENT
Both at the initial and at confirmatory stage, no access should, in principle, be granted to
the names and functions6 of staff which do not form part of senior management, unless a
thereto is established and there are no reasons to assume that the legitimate
of the individuals concerned might be prejudiced.
2.1. How to assess the need for the data transfer
The need to obtain the personal data must be clearly demonstrated by the applicant. It
should be distinguished from a mere interest in obtaining these data7.
For instance, some applicants request access to the names of members of a tender or project
evaluation committee to verify whether there have been any conflicts of interests. However,
it can be questioned whether this constitutes a “need” to obtain the personal data concerned,
given that the Financial Regulation and its Rules of Application already establish the
necessary procedural guarantees to avoid such conflicts of interests.
The necessity of the data transfer must be demonstrated by express and legitimate
justifications or convincing arguments8, and there must be no less invasive measures, taking
into account the principle of proportionality9.
2.2. How to assess the absence of any risks to the data subjects’ rights
As regards the possible risks to the legitimate rights of the data subjects concerned, and
hence to the privacy and integrity of these individuals in the meaning of Article 4(1)(b)
of Regulation 1049/2001, these can in a limited number of cases be established without a
need to consult the staff members concerned, in particular:
for members of tender or project evaluation committees, for whom there is a real
and non-hypothetical risk of being the subject of unsolicited contacts by
unsuccessful, current or future tenderers or project promoters;
for staff members tasked with investigative functions (e.g. investigative staff
working on antidumping or competition files, auditors, OLAF investigators, etc.).
for staff members forming part of an administrative entity which has been the
subject of targeted physical or verbal attacks or defamatory actions by outside
6 To the extent that they enable the individual staff members to be identified. If this is not the case, these
functions are not to be considered “personal data”, and access can in principle be granted if no other
exceptions of Article 4 of Regulation 1049/2001 are applicable.
7 E.g. for the purpose of verifying the absence of any conflicts of interest, a balanced composition of
recruitment and evaluation committees etc. The applicable rules and regulations normally provide sufficient
guarantees to ensure that Commission procedures are implemented under the fairest and most equitable
conditions possible. It will therefore be difficult to substantiate a need to publicly release the personal data
concerned for that purpose. Cf also the judgment of the General Court in case T-6/10, Sviluppo v
, paragraph 88.
8 Judgment of the Court of Justice of 29 June 2010, Case C-28/08P, European Commission v The
Bavarian Lager Co
. Ltd, European Court reports 2010, paragraphs 77-78.
9 Judgment of the General Court of 23 November 2011 in case T-82/09, Gert-Jan Dennekamp v
European Parliament, paragraphs 30-34.
In those cases, access should normally be denied.
In all other cases, the risks to the privacy and the integrity of the individuals can normally
only be identified with the requisite degree of certainty by the data subjects themselves.
it appears that there is a need to disclose the names and functions of staff
not forming part of senior management, those staff members should normally be
consulted before disclosure takes place, unless this is practically impossible.
2.3. Practical implications
Unless it is clearly evident, based on the assessment described above, that the two
conditions of Article 8(b) of Regulation 45/2001 are fulfilled, services are invited to
redact the names and functions10 appearing in the documents to which (full or partial)
access is granted, with reference to Article 4(1)(b) of Regulation 1049/2001.
The detailed reasoning should indicate that, based on the information available, the
necessity of disclosing the personal data has not been established and it cannot be assumed
that such disclosure would not prejudice the legitimate rights of the persons concerned. The
applicant should be invited, if he/she wishes to receive these personal data, to demonstrate
the need for having these personal data transferred and the absence of any adverse effects to
the legitimate rights of the individuals concerned in the meaning of Article 8(b) of
Regulation 45/2001. 11
As the possible release of Commission staff names and functions is conditional upon the
prior indication, by the applicant, of a need thereto, the number of cases where a specific
risk assessment has to be made, and hence the resulting administrative burden and the
risk of errors, is expected to remain limited.
10 To the extent that these enable the individuals concerned to be identified.
11 Cf standard letter "Personal data expunged", available on the dedicated website:
This letter also provides for
the possibility to introduce a confirmatory request if the applicant contests the qualification of the
redacted data as "personal data".