Ref. Ares(2020)3944962 - 27/07/2020
DIRECTORATE-GENERAL FOR MOBILITY AND TRANSPORT
Directorate B - Investment, Innovative & Sustainable Transport
B.4 - Sustainable & Intelligent Transport
Bemuurde Weerd WZ 3
3513 BH Utrecht
Your application for access to documents – GESTDEM 2020/4309
Dear Mr Teffer,
I refer to your e-mail of 14/07/2020 in which you make a request for access to
documents, registered on 15/07/2020 under the above reference number GESTDEM
In particular, you request access to the following: “All documents - including but not
limited to minutes, (hand-written) notes, audio recordings, verbatim reports, operational
conclusions, lines to take, briefings, e-mails, and presentations related to the meeting
between Director-General Henrik Hololei and Volkswagen Aktiengesellschaft
(VOLKSWAGEN AG) that took place on 03/12/2019
Having examined your request, please find enclosed the following documents in the
possession of Directorate-General for Mobility and Transport that we have identified as
corresponding to your request:
1. Email correspondence of 29/10/2020 from Volkswagen AG to DG MOVE
2. Briefing prepared for Mr Hololei for the meeting
Having examined the documents requested under the provisions of Regulation (EC) No
1049/2001 regarding public access to European Parliament, Council and Commission
documents1 (hereinafter ‘Regulation (EC) No 1049/2001’), I have come to the conclusion
that they may be partially disclosed. Some parts of the documents have been blanked out as
their disclosure is prevented by exception to the right of access laid down in Article 4 of this
With regard to the two documents listed above, a complete disclosure of the identified
documents is prevented by the exception concerning the protection of privacy and the
1 Regulation (EC) No 1049/2001 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 30 May 2001 regarding public
access to European Parliament, Council and Commission documents, OJ L 145, 31.5.2001, p. 43.
Commission européenne/Europese Commissie, 1049 Bruxelles/Brussel, BELGIQUE/BELGIË - Tel. +32 22991111
integrity of the individual outlined in Article 4(1)(b) of Regulation (EC) No 1049/2001,
because they contain the following personal data:
the names/initials and contact information of Commission staff members not
pertaining to the senior management;
the names/initials and contact details of other natural persons.
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/EC2 (‘Regulation 2018/1725’).
In particular, 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 data3.
In its judgment in Case C-28/08 P (Bavarian Lager)4, the Court of Justice ruled that when a
request is made for access to documents containing personal data, the Data Protection
Regulation becomes fully applicable5.
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 occur.
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
2 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,
OC L 205 of 21.11.2018, p. 39.
3 Judgment of the Court of Justice of the European Union of 20 December 2017 in Case C-434/16, Peter Nowak v Data
Protection Commissioner, ECLI:EU:C:2017:994, paragraphs 33-35.
4 Judgment of 29 June 2010 in Case C-28/08 P, European Commission v The Bavarian Lager Co. Ltd,
EU:C:2010:378, paragraph 59.
5 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.
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.
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 contained in the requested
documents, 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.
In case you would disagree with this position, 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 this position.
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’
or by email to: email@example.com
Head of Unit
Electronically signed on 24/07/2020 19:12 (UTC+02) in accordance with article 4.2 (Validity of electronic documents) of Commission Decision 2004/563