Ref. Ares(2017)6233736 - 19/12/2017
DIRECTORATE-GENERAL FOR AGRICULTURE AND RURAL DEVELOPMENT
DG/JP/I.3/KVK/VA D(2017) 958096
Rue Montoyer 18B
By registered letter with acknowledgment of
Advance copy by email:
[FOI #4756 email]
Your application for access to documents – Ref GestDem No 2017/6695
We refer to your e-mail dated 01/11/2017 in which you make a request for access to
documents, registered on 03/11/2017 under the above mentioned reference number.
You request access to: All documents - including but not limited to e-mails, minutes and
4-column tables - related to the trilogue meetings between the Parliament and the Council
on the organic farming regulation.
We have identified 88 documents as referring to the 18 trilogues which took place to
reach a political agreement in June 2017, a list of which you will find attached to this
You will also find attached a copy of documents n. 1, 2 and 88.
As regards document n. 85, I would like to inform you that it is publicly available at the
Having examined the remaining documents under the provisions of Regulation (EC) No
1049/2001 regarding public access to documents, I regret to inform you that your
application cannot be granted, as disclosure is prevented by one of the exceptions to the
right of access laid down in Article 4 of this Regulation.
According to Article 4 (3) first subparagraph of Regulation 1049/2001 "Access to a
document, drawn up by an institution for internal use or received by an institution, which
relates to a matter where the decision has not been taken by the institution, shall be
Commission européenne/Europese Commissie, 1049 Bruxelles/Brussel, BELGIQUE/BELGIË - Tel. +32 22991111
refused if disclosure of the document would seriously undermine the institution's
decision-making process, unless there is an overriding public interest in disclosure."
As you know the Regulation on the organic production reform has not been adopted yet,
as it has neither been voted by the European Parliament plenary neither adopted by the
Council of the European Union yet.
Trilogue meetings took place in a sphere of confidence and trust, with the aim of finding
a ground for compromise between the respective institutions. As long as the inter-
institutional decision-making process has not been finalised, disclosure to the public of
the preliminary views and the positions expressed in the trilogue meetings by the
representatives from the Commission, the Council and the Parliament would entail a
reasonably foreseeable and specific risk of putting the inter-institutional decision-making
process under external pressure, thereby jeopardising the compromises reached.
With regards to documents 3, 4, 6, 9, 14, 18, 22, 27, 34, 40, 46, 57, 63, 70, 73, 75, 79 and
84, referring to the agendas, they contain explicit references to the negotiation procedure
and therefore could undermine the finalisation of the decision making process.
Concerning the documents identified with numbers n. 21, 26, 31, 32, 33, 37, 38, 39, 45,
50, 51, 52, 53, 54, 55, 56, 59, 60, 61, 62, 64, 65, 66, 67, 68, 69, 74, 78, 82, 83, 86 and
87, these are informal documents or non-papers drafted by the Commission, the Council
or the European Parliament in the framework of preliminary discussions and served as a
preparation in order to clarify discussion points and facilitate the reach of a compromise.
They contain therefore preliminary views on specific aspects which cannot be disclosed
in order not to jeopardise the decision making process. These documents will furthermore
be also relevant for the preparation of the secondary legislation: delegated and
The exception provided for in Article 4(3) first subparagraph of Regulation (EC) No
1049/2001 therefore applies to all these documents.
We have considered whether partial access could be granted to the documents mentioned
above, but they are entirely covered by the exception in Article 4 (3), first subparagraph
of Regulation 1049/2001.
As regards documents 5, 7, 8, 10, 11, 12, 13, 15, 16, 17, 19, 20, 23, 24, 25, 28, 29, 30,
35, 36, 41, 42, 43, 44, 47, 48, 49, 58, 71, 72, 76, 77, 80 and 81, identified for the purpose
of your request, refer to the so-called 4-column table, an informal document produced by
the Council which keeps records of the progression of the decision making process until
the final decision.
In this document the positions of the three institutions are reported:
The first Column reports the Commission proposal COM (2014) 180: Proposal for a
Regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council on organic production and
labelling of organic products, amending Regulation (EU) No XXX/XXX of the European
Parliament and of the Council [Official controls Regulation] and repealing Council
Regulation (EC) No 834/2007, which you can find at the following link:
The second column reports the Council General Approach on a regulation on organic
production and labelling of organic products repealing Council Regulation (EC) No
834/2007 which can be found at the following link: http://data.consilium.europa.eu/doc/document/ST-9750-2015-INIT/en/pdf
Finally the third column is the European Parliament amendments that can be found here: http://www.europarl.europa.eu/sides/getDoc.do?type=REPORT&mode=XML&reference
The fourth column drafts the progress of the compromise. As regards in particular this
fourth column, the same arguments provided above apply and therefore it cannot be
disclosed to the public, according to the exemption laid down in article 4,(3) first
subparagraph, of Regulation (EC) No 1049/2001 on access to documents.
We assessed the possibility to provide partial access to these documents. As the
information included in the first three columns is public, we consider that a redaction of
the 4th column in all the documents referring to the trilogue would be administratively too
burdensome due to the size of the documents (around 600 pages per trilogue) and would
not bring any substantial added value to your application.
The exception laid down in Article 4(3) first subparagraph of Regulation (EC) No
1049/2001 applies unless there is an overriding public interest in disclosure. However,
we were not able to identify such an interest.
In case you would disagree with our assessment, 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 unit SG-B-4
or by email to: [email address]
Encl.: 3 documents and a list
Electronically signed on 18/12/2017 16:39 (UTC+01) in accordance with article 4.2 (Validity of electronic documents) of Commission Decision 2004/563