This is an HTML version of an attachment to the Freedom of Information request 'Minutes High level group on fake news'.



 
Ref. Ares(2019)4026631 - 25/06/2019
EUROPEAN COMMISSION 
DIRECTORATE-GENERAL FOR COMMUNICATIONS NETWORKS, CONTENT AND 
TECHNOLOGY 
 
 
The Director-General 
 
Brussels,  
CONNECT/R4 
Mr Thomas Spekschoor 
Wetstraat 155 
1040 Brussels 
Belgium 
 
                                                                                     Advance copy via email:  
                                                                                                      xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx@xxxxxxxx.xxx 
                                                                             
 
REGISTERED LETTER WITH ACKNOWLEDGEMENT OF RECEIPT 
 
Subject: Your application for access to documents- Ref GestDem 2019/2740 
Dear Mr Spekschoor,  
We refer to your e-mail dated 9 May 2019 in which you make a request for access to 
documents, registered on 10 May 2019 under the abovementioned reference number. We 
also refer to our holding reply dated 4 June 2019, our reference Ares(2019)3595623, 
whereby we informed you that the time limit for handling your application was extended 
by 15 working days pursuant to Article 7(3) of Regulation (EC) No 1049/2001 on public 
access to documents (hereinafter 'Regulation 1049/2001').     
1. 
SCOPE OF YOUR APPLICATION 
You requested access to: 
 ‘documents which contain the following information on the ‘‘high level group on fake 
news and online disinformation’’: 

- All minutes of meetings of the high level group 
- All communication between the European Commission and the high level group 
- All communication within the high level group, for example letters from participants to 
the president of the high level group’ 

 
Commission européenne/Europese Commissie, 1049 Bruxelles/Brussel, BELGIQUE/BELGIË - Tel. +32 22991111 
xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx@xx.xxxxxx.xx 
 

 
 
2. 
DOCUMENTS FALLING WITHIN THE SCOPE OF THE REQUEST 
We have identified the following documents:  
a. All minutes of meetings of the High-Level Expert Group 
- Minutes of the First Meeting of the High-Level Expert Group on Fake News, 15 
January 2018 (Document No 1) 
- Minutes of the Second Meeting of the High-Level Expert Group on Fake News, 7 
February 2018 (Document No 2) 
- Minutes of the Third Meeting of the High-Level Expert Group on Fake News, 23 
February 2018 (Document No 3) 
- Minutes of the Fourth Meeting of the High-Level Expert Group on Fake News, 7 March 
2018 (Document No 4) 
b.  All communication between the European Commission and the High-Level 
Expert  Group 

Invitation to High Level Expert Group, 22 December 2017 (Document No 5) 
- Letter to the members of the High- High-Level Expert Group on Fake News, 10 
January 2018 (Document No 6) and its Annexes: Agenda (Document No 7),  Background 
Note on Fake News and Disinformation online (Document No 8) and Rules of Procedure 
of the High-Level Group of Experts on Fake News (Document No 9) 
- Standard privacy statement (Document No 10) 
- Note to the attention of High-Level Expert Group on Fake News: Rules on 
Reimbursement, 16 January 2018 (Document No 11) and the attached information sheet 
(Document No 12) 
- Email to the members of the High Level Expert Group on Fake News, 17 January 2018 
(Document No 13) 
- Email to the Chair and members of the High-Level Expert Group on Fake News, 22 
January 2019 and the attached list of subgroups (Document No 14) 
-  Agenda of the second High-Level Expert Group Meeting (Document No 15) 
- Note to the attention of High-Level Expert Group on Fake News: Rules on 
Reimbursement, 19 February 2018 (Document No 16) and the abovementioned 
(Document No 12) attached information sheet  
- Agenda of the third High-Level Expert Group Meeting (Document No 17) 
- Note to the attention of High-Level Expert Group on Fake News: Rules on 
Reimbursement, 2 March 2018 (Document No 18) and the abovementioned (Document 
No 12) attached information sheet  


 
- Agenda of the fourth High-Level Expert Group Meeting (Document No 19) 
c. All communication within the High-Level Expert Group 
We regret to inform you that we have not identified any documents relating to the 
communication within the High-Level Expert Group. 
3. 
ASSESSMENT UNDER REGULATION 1049/2001 
Having assessed the identified documents under the provisions of Regulation 1049/2001, 
we have arrived at the conclusion that full disclosure can be granted for twelve 
documents. Partial access with only personal data redacted can be granted to all other 
documents.  
A. Full disclosure 
Documents No 1, 2, 3, 4, 7, 8, 9, 10, 12, 15, 17 and 19 are fully disclosed. 
Please note that these Documents are publicly available on the Register of Commission 
Expert Groups via the following link:  
http://ec.europa.eu/transparency/regexpert/index.cfm?do=groupDetail.groupDetail&grou
pID=3567 

B. Partial access with only personal data redacted  
Parts of documents No 5, 6, 11, 13, 14, 16 and 18 contain personal data, in particular 
names, initials, contact details, functions, handwritten signatures of the Commission 
staff. They also contain contact details (email addresses and telephone numbers) of the 
members of the High-Level Expert Group. Pursuant to Article 4(1)(b) Regulation 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 (EC) No 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’). 
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 data2 . Please 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 data3.  
                                                 
1 Official Journal L 205 of 21.11.2018, p. 39. 
2 Judgment of the Court of Justice of the European Union of 20 December 2017 in Case C-434/16, Peter 
Novak v Data Protection Commissioner, request for a preliminary ruling, paragraphs 33-35, 
ECLI:EU:T:2018:560 
3 Judgment of the General Court of 19 September 2018 in case T-39/17, Port de Brest v Commission, 
paragraphs 43-44, ECLI:EU:T:2018:560 


 
Pursuant to Article 9(1)(b) of Regulation 2018/1725, personal data shall only be 
transmitted 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 occur. 
In your application, you do not put forward any arguments to establish the necessity to 
have the personal 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. 
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.  
Consequently, I conclude that access cannot be granted to the abovementioned 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. 
You may reuse the documents free of charge, for non-commercial and commercial 
purposes provided that the source is acknowledged, that you do not distort the original 
meaning or message of the documents. Please note that the Commission does not assume 
liability stemming from the reuse. 
C. No documents identified  
Regarding communication within the High-Level Expert group we were not able to 
identify any documents. 
As specified in Article 2(3) of Regulation (EC) No 1049/2001, the right of access as 
defined in that regulation applies only to existing documents in the possession of the 
institution. 
In the light of the above, we are not in a position to further fulfil your request. 
4. 
CONFIRMATORY APPLICATION 
In accordance with Article 7(2) of Regulation 1049/2001, you are entitled to make a 
confirmatory application requesting the Commission to review the above positions.  
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:  



 
European Commission 
Secretary-General 
Transparency, Document Management & Access to Documents (SG.C.1)  
BERL 5/282 
B-1049 Bruxelles 
or by email to: xxxxxxxxxx@xx.xxxxxx.xx 
 
 
 
Yours sincerely, 
(e-Signed) 
Roberto Viola 
 
 
 
 
Enclosures: (19) 

Electronically signed on 24/06/2019 17:54 (UTC+02) in accordance with article 4.2 (Validity of electronic documents) of Commission Decision 2004/563

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