Dear Madam, Sir,

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:

All documents related to the EU-China Friendship Group, including but not limited to the letter to the President about the group's suspension

Sincerely,
Peter Teffer

postal address:
Peter Teffer
Ekko Voorkamer
Bemuurde Weerd WZ 3
3513 BH Utrecht
The Netherlands

AccesDocs, European Parliament

1 Attachment

Dear Mr Teffer,

The European Parliament hereby acknowledges receipt of your application
for public access to documents, which was registered on 26/01/2021, under
the reference A(2021)648.

 

All requests for public access to documents are treated in compliance with
Regulation (EC) No 1049/2001 of 30 May 2001 regarding public access to
European Parliament, Council and Commission documents.

 

In accordance with the above-mentioned Regulation, your application will
be handled within 15 working days upon registration of your request.

 

Your personal data will be processed in accordance with Regulation (EU)
2018/1725 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.

 

The European Parliament reserves the right to ask for additional
information regarding your identity in order to verify compliance with
Regulation (EC) No 1049/2001 and the European Parliament’s implementing
measures.

 

Your attention is drawn to the fact that you have lodged your application
via the AsktheEU.org website, which is a private website not officially
related to the European Parliament. Therefore, the European Parliament
cannot be held accountable for any technical issues or problems linked to
the use of this system.

 

In addition, please note that any personal data that you provide by using
AsktheEU.org website may be disclosed to the general public and visible on
this private website. The European Parliament cannot be held responsible
for such disclosure. Should you need to communicate directly to Parliament
any personal data and would like to avoid public disclosure, you may do so
from your private email address by using the following functional mailbox
address: AccesDocs(at)europarl.europa.eu  

 

Kind regards,

 

 

[1]cid:image001.png@01D69BF7.F4F36EB0 TRANSPARENCY UNIT

 
European Parliament
Directorate-General for the
Presidency
Directorate for Interinstitutional
Affairs and Legislative Coordination
[2][European Parliament request email]
[3]www.europarl.europa.eu/RegistreWeb

 

 

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AccesDocs, European Parliament

1 Attachment

Dear Mr Teffer,

 

The time-limit for responding to your application concerning public access
to documents which was registered 26/01/2021 under reference number
A(2021)648 would expire tomorrow 16/02/2021.

 

However, due to the fact that the inter and extra-institutional
consultations with regard to the detailed analysis of all legal aspects of
your application has not yet been completed and due to the coronavirus
pandemic and containment measures adopted by the European Parliament
affecting the timely handling of your application, Parliament is obliged
to exceptionally extend the time-limit provided for in Article 7(1) of
Regulation (EC) No 1049/2001 by 15 working days, in accordance with
Article 7(3) of that Regulation.

 

Thank you for your attention.

 

Kind regards,

 

 

[1]cid:image001.png@01D69BF7.F4F36EB0 TRANSPARENCY UNIT

 
European Parliament
Directorate-General for the
Presidency
Directorate for Interinstitutional
Affairs and Legislative Coordination
[2][European Parliament request email]
[3]www.europarl.europa.eu/RegistreWeb

 

 

References

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Dear Madam, Sir,

I refer to my access to documents request dated 26 January 2021, which the European Parliament registered that same day under reference A(2021)648, and Parliament's message from 15 February 2021 that it was unable to complete the application within the time-limit of 15 working days, and required an exceptional extension by 15 working days.

That deadline has now also passed, which means there is no legal basis for any further delay.

I therefore urge Parliament to take a decision regarding my request at the earliest opportunity.

Sincerely
Peter Teffer

European Parliament

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Dear Madam, Sir,

In response to my access to documents request registered on 26/01/2021, under
the reference A(2021)648, I received a message which seems to be some kind of error:

"[1]To view this email as a web page, go here

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IMPORTANT: DHL Express does not request payments by cash or any other
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Veuillez ne pas répondre à cet e-mail ; la boîte de réception
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Dear Madam, Sir,

I refer to my application for public access to documents, reference A(2021)648, and the Secretary-General's letter dated 9 March 2021.

The European Parliament has decided to refuse access to the four documents it had identified. The main reason for this decision was that disclosure would undermine the Advisory Committee's examination of a potential breach of the Code of Conduct.

"With the politically charged context of the case, in which on the one hand the press and some politicians question the propriety of the management of the EU-China Friendship Group and on the other hand, the group's chair claims the rules on informal friendship groups were respected, the public disclosure of the requested preliminary documents would undermine the serenity and integrity of the Advisory Committee's work."

This reasoning puzzles me and seems principally as misguided. It suggests that the MEPs in the Advisory Committee cannot make a fair assessment of the documents if they are public. I find it difficult to believe that the Advisory Committee could arrive at different conclusions after their examination depending on whether documents are public or not. The public or private nature of the documents does not change their contents. As for the suggestion that these documents, if made public, may be misused by 'the press and some politicians', this should be irrelevant to the Advisory Committee's decision-making process. MEPs operate in a political ecosphere, and they should be able to ignore certain public comments that are irrelevant.

The idea that the Advisory Committee can work without any comments being ever made in the public is a fiction. The ECR itself has already made part information from these documents public: see https://ecrgroup.eu/article/inta_vice_pr...
The public interest would therefore merit from full disclosure of the documents.

Sincerely
Peter Teffer

Dear Madam, Sir

I refer to my message sent on March 22, 2021. This was a confirmatory application to my initial request for public access to documents, reference A(2021)648. Can you confirm receipt and that the confirmatory application will swiftly be dealt with?

Sincerely
Peter Teffer

AccesDocs, European Parliament

1 Attachment

  • Attachment

    Internal review of access to documents request EU China Friendship Group.txt

    2K Download View as HTML

Dear Mr Teffer,

The Transparency Unit here by acknowledges having received your attached confirmatory application in case A (2021) 648 on 22 March 2021 within the time limit for you to file a confirmatory application. It has been registered today, on 26 April 2021, under the reference A (2021) 648 C, and will be treated as swiftly as possible pursuant to Regulation (EC) No 1049/2001.

When addressing emails to the functional mail box of the Transparency Unit in relation to an ongoing case of yours, could you please make mention of the case's EP reference, in order for the staff of the Transparency Unit to be able to swiftly sort them out and process them.

We apologise for the delay in the registration of this application, it will now be treated with as much celerity as possible.

Kind regards,

The Transparency Unit

TRANSPARENCY UNIT
European Parliament
Directorate General for the Presidency
Directorate for Inter-Institutional Affairs
and Legislative Coordination

Public Register webpage
[email address]

show quoted sections

AccesDocs, European Parliament

Dear Mr Nielsen,

 

In reference to your confirmatory application A(2021)648C, registered on
26 April 2021, due to longer then expected internal consultations, and
pandemic mitigation measures, Parliament hereby extends the time limit to
reply by 15 working days, pursuant to Article 7(2) of Regulation (EC)
1049/2001.

Parliament will be closed on Monday 24 May 2021.

 

We regret this additional delay and apologise for any inconvenience this
may cause.

 

We can assure you that we are doing our utmost to provide you with a final
reply as soon as possible and thank you very much in advance for your kind
understanding.

 

Yours sincerely,

 

 

 

The Transparency Unit

TRANSPARENCY UNIT

European Parliament

Directorate General for the Presidency

Directorate for Inter-Institutional Affairs

and Legislative Coordination

Public Register webpage

 

Dear Madam, Sir,

I write to you in reference to my confirmatory application in case A (2021) 648, which I submitted on 22 March 2021, but which was only registered on 26 April 2021, under the reference A (2021) 648 C.

In its 26 April 2021 letter, the Transparency Unit committed to treating the application "as swiftly as possible" and "with as much celerity as possible".

On 20 May 2021 I was informed that an extended time limit was necessary "due to longer then expected internal consultations, and pandemic mitigation measures".

An extended time limit is allowed under Regulation 1049/2001 in "exceptional cases, for example in the event of an application relating to a very long document or to a very large number of documents" and if the applicant is given "detailed reasons". I believe that these criteria are not fulfilled.

Pandemic mitigation measures have been in place for about a year now, so their impact on the required time to process a confirmatory application should no longer be a surprise to the Parliament's Transparency Unit. I disagree that it can be part of an argument for an "exceptional case".

Equally, the EU institution alone is responsible for its internal consultations. If it is not able to finish such consultations within the required time limit, it should speed up its consultation process - not use that as an excuse to extend the deadline. Failing to adequately assess how long such consultations will take cannot be a valid reason for a delay.

The Parliament has used the required time for "internal consultations" as a reason to extend the deadline on numerous occassions in the past, including initial applications such as A(2020)8557, A(2020)10506 and A(2020)8243, and confirmatory applications A(2021)832C, and EP(2021)003425C.

It is not credible that the expected time period required for internal consultations was wrongly predicted every single time. It is more likely that the Parliament knows that its consultation process takes more time than the 15 working days period, but that it is not informing the applicant of this so that it can use the "longer than expected" excuse as an argument for its extension.

I therefore challenge the notion that there is a legal basis in Regulation 1049/2001 for the current delay.

Looking forward to your response,
Peter Teffer

Dear Madam, Sir,

On 26 May I wrote a reply to your extension of the deadline, in which I challenged the legality of this extension. To date, I have not received any reply.

Please dignify my grievances and questions with a response. For your convenience, I paste a copy of my message below:

Dear Madam, Sir,

I write to you in reference to my confirmatory application in case A (2021) 648, which I submitted on 22 March 2021, but which was only registered on 26 April 2021, under the reference A (2021) 648 C.

In its 26 April 2021 letter, the Transparency Unit committed to treating the application "as swiftly as possible" and "with as much celerity as possible".

On 20 May 2021 I was informed that an extended time limit was necessary "due to longer then expected internal consultations, and pandemic mitigation measures".

An extended time limit is allowed under Regulation 1049/2001 in "exceptional cases, for example in the event of an application relating to a very long document or to a very large number of documents" and if the applicant is given "detailed reasons". I believe that these criteria are not fulfilled.

Pandemic mitigation measures have been in place for about a year now, so their impact on the required time to process a confirmatory application should no longer be a surprise to the Parliament's Transparency Unit. I disagree that it can be part of an argument for an "exceptional case".

Equally, the EU institution alone is responsible for its internal consultations. If it is not able to finish such consultations within the required time limit, it should speed up its consultation process - not use that as an excuse to extend the deadline. Failing to adequately assess how long such consultations will take cannot be a valid reason for a delay.

The Parliament has used the required time for "internal consultations" as a reason to extend the deadline on numerous occassions in the past, including initial applications such as A(2020)8557, A(2020)10506 and A(2020)8243, and confirmatory applications A(2021)832C, and EP(2021)003425C.

It is not credible that the expected time period required for internal consultations was wrongly predicted every single time. It is more likely that the Parliament knows that its consultation process takes more time than the 15 working days period, but that it is not informing the applicant of this so that it can use the "longer than expected" excuse as an argument for its extension.

I therefore challenge the notion that there is a legal basis in Regulation 1049/2001 for the current delay.

Looking forward to your response,
Peter Teffer

AccesDocs, European Parliament

Dear Mr Teffer,

Thank you for your message.

Parliament's Transparency Unit has received and has been processing an important number of applications for access to documents over the last few weeks and months. It has gone through a troubled change in the Parliament documents management system. And at the same time, although the epidemiologic situation is improving, its staff members have now been working confined in their place of residence for many months, which has clearly borne down on at least some of them.

The handling of your confirmatory application has unfortunately suffered from those circumstances. Although the time limit to reply to your confirmatory application, registered on 26 April 2021, has now expired, it is still being processed. And you should be receiving a reply from the Vice President in charge of access to documents as soon as possible.

Time limits aim to achieve, first, the swift and straightforward processing of applications for access to documents of the institutions concerned and, second, as a priority, a friendly settlement of the disputes which may arise. For cases in which such a dispute cannot be resolved by the parties, Article 8(1) of Regulation (EC) 1049/2001 provides two remedies, namely the institution of court proceedings or the lodging of a complaint with the Ombudsman.

Nevertheless, it must be noted that the institution can reply to the applicant even after the expiry of those time-limits. In fact, it is apparent from the case-law that the time-limits laid down in Articles 7 and 8 of Regulation (EC) 1049/2001 merely aim to achieve the swift processing of applications for access to documents and to expedite the disclosure of the documents requested where their disclosure is possible Besides, failure to comply with the time-limits laid down in Articles 7 and 8 of Regulation (EC) 1049/2001 does not have the effect of depriving the institution of the power to adopt a decision and does not in itself taint a decision with unlawfulness justifying its annulment (Judgment of the General Court of 3 May 2018 Malta v Commission, T-653/16, EU:T:2018:241, paragraph 85 and 86).

In view of the above, we sincerely apologise for the issues in the handling of your application and the delay in the reply, but we would invite you to wait for the confirmatory application to be decided on and communicated to you.

Please do not hesitate to come back to us, should you have other queries.

Kind regards,

The Transparency Unit's coordinator for access to documents,

TRANSPARENCY UNIT
European Parliament
Directorate General for the Presidency
Directorate for Inter-Institutional Affairs
and Legislative Coordination

Public Register webpage
[email address]

show quoted sections

Dear Madam, Sir,

I write to you in reference to my confirmatory application in case A (2021) 648, which I submitted on 22 March 2021, but which was only registered on 26 April 2021, under the reference A (2021) 648 C.

On 20 May 2021, you informed me of the necessity to extend the time limit to reply to my request by 15 working days. Since that date - excluding Monday 24 May 2021, when Parliament was closed - no less than 26(!) working days have expired. I have not received a reply within the extended time limit.

Please reply to my request without delay, but in any case by Tuesday 29 June the latest. Failing that, I will make use of my rights under Regulation 1049/2001 by filing a complaint with the European Ombudsman.

Hoping to hear from Parliament soon,
Peter Teffer

AccesDocs, European Parliament

Dear Mr Teffer,

Thank you for your follow up email quering about the status of your confirmatory application A(2021)648 C.

Article 8(3) of Regulation (EC) NO 1049/2001 provides that "failure by the institution to reply within the prescribed time limit shall be considered as a negative reply and entitle the applicant to institute court proceedings against the institution and/or make a complaint to the Ombudsman, under the relevant provisions of the EC Treaty". Hence in principle the opportunity to file a complaint with the Ombudsman is open to applicants from the moment the time limit for the institution to reply expired. Pursuant Article 2(4) of the Ombudsman's Statute (https://www.ombudsman.europa.eu/en/legal...) this opportunity to file a complaint with the Ombudsman remains open for two years. You may very well consider opportune to press ahead with a complaint to the Ombudsman as soon as possible. This is your right.

But you may also consider waiting for a while more. As explained below in the emails, the handling of your application has suffered from a string of unfortunate circumstances, and we wholeheartedly apologise for the delay. Parliament is going to keep processing your file, a decision will be taken, hopefully very soon, and that decision will be notified to you by registered mail. After notification of the decision a new window of two years for filing a complaint with the Ombudsman will open.

Best regards,

TRANSPARENCY UNIT
European Parliament
Directorate General for the Presidency
Directorate for Inter-Institutional Affairs
and Legislative Coordination

Public Register webpage
[email address]

show quoted sections

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