EU investment policy - correspondence and meetings with business lobby groups

Pia Eberhardt made this access to documents request to Trade

The request was partially successful.

From: Pia Eberhardt

Delivered

Dear Madams & Sirs,

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:

1) a list of meetings of DG Trade officials and/or representatives (including the Commissioner and the Cabinet) and representatives of individual companies and/or industry federations such as BusinessEurope, the European Services Forum (ESF), the Federation of German Industries (BDI) and/or law firms such as Freshfields, White & Case, Herbert Smith, Lovells and Sidley, in which the EU's foreign investment policy, and in particular the EU-US investment policy was discussed (since March 2012);

2) minutes and other reports of these meetings;

3) all correspondence (including emails) between DG Trade officials and/or representatives (including the Commissioner and the Cabinet) and representatives of companies, business associations and law firms, in which the EU's foreign investment policy, and in particular the EU-US investment policy was discussed (since March 2012).

Yours faithfully,

Pia Eberhardt

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Trade

Dear Ms Eberhardt,

We refer to your e-mail dated 19/03/2013 in which you make a request for access to documents, registered the same day under the above mentioned reference number.

Your application is currently being handled. However, we will not be in a position to complete the handling of your application within the time limit of 15 working days, which expires today, 15/04/2013.

An extended time limit is needed as your application concerns documents held by different Services which must be consulted.

Therefore, we have to extend the time limit with 15 working days in accordance with Article 7(3) of Regulation (EC) No 1049/2001 regarding public access to documents. The new time limit expires on 07/05/2013.

We apologize for this delay and for any inconvenience this may cause.

Yours faithfully,

Raluca MOLDOVAN
Access to Documents

European Commission
DG TRADE
Unit A3 - Information, communication and civil society
CHAR 7/90
B-1049 Brussels/Belgium
+32 2 2984 177
[email address]

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From: Pia Eberhardt

Delivered

Dear Ms. Raluca MOLDOVAN,

the extended deadline for responding to my request for access to documents above expired yesterday.

Could you update me on the state of this request? Is there any chance to receive the documents this week? If not, I might consider filing a confirmatory application.

Yours faithfully,

Pia Eberhardt

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Trade

Dear Ms Eberhardt,

Thank you for your email regarding the access to documents request 2013/1521.

Your application is currently being handled. However, we have not be in a position to complete the handling of your application within the time limit of 30 working days, which expired yesterday, 07/05/2013.

An extended time limit is needed as your application concerns more than 40 documents, which we have already been identified but we need, however to screen them carefully before getting the signature of our hierarchy.

Unfortunately because of the holiday on 09/05 and 10/05 we will not be able to send them to you this week. I will keep you updated at the beginning of next week. We apologize for this delay and for any inconvenience this may cause.

Yours faithfully,

Raluca MOLDOVAN
Access to Documents

European Commission
DG TRADE
Unit A3 - Information, communication and civil society
CHAR 7/90
B-1049 Brussels/Belgium
+32 2 2984 177
[email address]

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Trade

Dear Ms Eberhardt,

I refer to your Access to Documents request 2013/1521.

Your application is currently being handled and we apologise again for not being in a position to complete the handling of your application within the time limit. As mentioned before, we have already screened all the documents , but as some of them originate from third parties we have to consult them and we would therefore need a little more time.

Nevertheless I will keep you informed on where we are.

We apologize for this delay and for any inconvenience this may cause.

Kind regards,

Raluca MOLDOVAN
Access to Documents

European Commission
DG TRADE
Unit A3 - Information, communication and civil society
CHAR 7/90
B-1049 Brussels/Belgium
+32 2 2984 177
[email address]

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From: Pia Eberhardt

Delivered

Dear Ms. Raluca MOLDOVAN,

thank you for the recent update.

I had already responded to it last week, but apparently, the message got lost.

I had proposed that you already send me the documents, which do not originate from third parties and which have already been approved by your services now and the remaining documents as soon as you have the approval from the third parties.

May I also draw your attention to your internal guide for dealing with access to documents requests, the Vademecum. According to a 2010 version, which DG Trade services provided to me, consultation of third parties should only take place in rare instances and be linked to clear and short deadlines for responses from these third parties.

Yours faithfully,

Pia Eberhardt

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Trade

Dear Ms Eberhardt,

Thank you for your email regarding the access to documents request 2013/1521.

As discussed over the phone on 22/05/2013, your application concerns many documents which need to be carefully screened. As agreed, to avoid further delays, we are separating them in two batches and we are doing our best to send the first batch to you today or early next week.

Thank you for your understanding and we apologize for this delay and for any inconvenience this may cause.

Kind regards,

Raluca MOLDOVAN
Access to Documents

European Commission
DG TRADE
Unit A3 - Information, communication and civil society
CHAR 7/90
B-1049 Brussels/Belgium
+32 2 2984 177
[email address]

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Trade

Dear Ms Eberhardt,

Thank you for your patience regarding your Access to Documents request. As agreed on the phone and in the email exchanges, we are currently working on the first batch of documents (18 documents) that we want to send to you as soon as possible. Unfortunately the screening takes longer than we thought and we were not able to finish them yet. Nevertheless, we are just missing one signature before we send them out, so it should move quickly.

Thank you for your patience and understanding and we apologise again for any inconvenience this might cause.

Kind regards,

Raluca MOLDOVAN
Access to Documents

European Commission
DG TRADE
Unit A3 - Information, communication and civil society
CHAR 7/90
B-1049 Brussels/Belgium
+32 2 2984 177
[email address]

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Dear Ms Eberhardt,

 

Further to your request for access to documents, please find herewith, the
first batch of documents together with a letter signed by Leopoldo
Rubinacci, Head of Unit. The remaining  documents are currently being
reviewed by DG TRADE management and will be sent to you shortly in a
second batch.

Kind regards,

Raluca MOLDOVAN
Access to Documents

[1]Description:
http://ec.europa.eu/trade/images/ec-logo...
European Commission
DG TRADE
Unit A3 - Information, communication and civil society

CHAR 7/90
B-1049 Brussels/Belgium
+32 2 2984 177
[2][email address]

 

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From: Pia Eberhardt

Delivered

Dear Raluca MOLDOVAN,

as another two weeks have passed since you sent me the first batch of documents, would you be so kind to inform me when the rest of the documents will arrive? I would appreciate a specific and realistic date so that I can make an informed decision regarding the merits of immediately making a confirmatory application.

Yours faithfully,

Pia Eberhardt

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Trade

Dear Ms Eberhardt,

Thank you for your email regarding your Access to documents request.

On 30/05 we have sent to you 18 documents out of 43. The remaining 25 documents are carefully being screened by our colleagues for partial release in order to provide the widest possible access according to the Regulation 1049.

At the moment we are dealing with a high number of access to documents requests, many of which like yours involve numerous documents. We are doing our maximum to handle them in an efficient and even-handed way between different applicants and taking into account varying timing constraints. We are doing our best to put your reply into circulation for the signature of our hierarchy at the beginning of next week.

Further, I would like to advise you, that introducing a confirmatory application will not accelerate the process but rather slow it down, as your application will be handled from the beginning by a different service (Secretary General) and by new people who do not have the expertise in the investment policy as DG Trade does. However, it is entirely up to you to decide whether or not you should make a confirmatory application immediately.

Please contact us if you have any further questions.

Kind regards,

Indre VAICEKAUSKAITE
Access to Documents

European Commission
DG TRADE
Unit A3 - Information, communication and civil society
CHAR 7/90
B-1049 Brussels/Belgium
+32 2 295 61 07
[email address]

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From: Pia Eberhardt

Delivered

Dear Trade (TRADE),

thank you for your response.

Let me kindly remind you of a ruling by the European Ombudsman (1302/2009/TS) in a complaint about the Commission's practice of unneccessarily delaying responses to access to documents requests.

In this complaint, the Ombudsman concluded: "The Commission should, if it cannot deal with an initial application within the time limits of Regulation 1049/2001, provide the applicant with reasons for the delay and an indication of how long it will take to deal with the initial application. This would allow the applicant to make an informed decision regarding the merits of immediately making a confirmatory application."

Let me note that while you have provided me with numerous reasons for the delay ("documents held by different Services which must be consulted", "more than 40 documents" and the need to "screen them carefully before getting the signature of our hierarchy", "some of them originate from third parties we have to consult them and we would therefore need a little more time", "Unfortunately the screening takes longer than we thought and we were not able to finish them yet" etc.), you have provided me with contradictory and imprecise indications of how long it will take to deal with the initial application:

- on 15 April you extended the time limit for another 15 working days
- on 8 May you informed me (only after I had asked about the status of my request) that you would get back to me "at the beginning of next week"
- on 15 May you informed me that you would "need a little more time" and will keep me "informed on where we are"
- on 24 May, after another email from my side and a phone call, you informed me that "we are doing our best to send the first batch to you today or early next week."
- on 29 May you informed me: "we are currently working on the first batch of documents (18 documents) that we want to send to you as soon as possible. Unfortunately the screening takes longer than we thought and we were not able to finish them yet. Nevertheless, we are just missing one signature before we send them out, so it should move quickly."
- on 30 May you sent me this first batch of 18 documents (out of which 5 can be found on the internet, while the list of documents and meetings, which was mentioned in the accompanying letter seems to have been forgotten completely); you also informed me that "the remaining documents are currently being reviewed by DG TRADE management and will be sent to you shortly in a second batch."

Looking at this history of the request, you might understand why, on 13 June, after another two weeks have passed, I decided to ask you for a "a specific and realistic date" on which I could expect the second batch of documents. I was just asking you to comply with the above mentioned Ombudsman ruling so that I could make an informed decision about the next steps in this so far rather unsuccessful attempt to realise my right to know.

Unfortunately, in your last response, you did not suggest a specific and realistic date.

Three months after my initial request, long after the expiration of all the time limits set by Regulation 1049/2001 and several assurances of imminent decision on access, I am starting to feel mislead by what to me now seems like a deliberate delay tactic.

In these circumstances, I request to the Commission to release the remaining documents related to my application of 19 March 2013 by Friday 28 June 2013.

Yours faithfully,

Pia Eberhardt

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Trade

Dear Pia,

Thank you for your message. As I told you last Friday, we were trying to put the 2nd batch of documents under your request in circulation for approval of our hierarchy. For your information signataire containing documents requested is already in circulation and we should be able to meet a deadline of next Friday 28/06/2013 set in your email.

Kind regards,
Indre

Indre VAICEKAUSKAITE
Access to Documents

European Commission
DG TRADE
Unit A3 - Information, communication and civil society
CHAR 7/90
B-1049 Brussels/Belgium
+32 2 295 61 07
[email address]

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Trade

Dear Pia,

Following my message sent to you last Friday, unfortunately we will not be able to send the 2nd batch of documents to you today, nevertheless you will receive them on Monday.

Kind regards,
Indre

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Dear Ms Eberhardt,

 

Please find attached the reply to your request for Access to Documents
registered under the above mentioned number.

 

The email has to be split into three parts due to the size of the annexes.

 

 

Best regards,

 

 

Leopoldo RUBINACCI
Head of Unit
 
[1]cid:image001.gif@01CE7738.0297A690
European Commission
DG TRADE
Unit B2 - Investment
CHAR 6/128
B-1049 Brussels/Belgium
+32 2 299 03 03

 

[2][email address]

Web : [3]http://ec.europa.eu/trade/

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Trade


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Dear Ms Eberhardt,

 

Please find attached the second part of the Annexes.

 

Best regards,

 

 

Leopoldo RUBINACCI
Head of Unit
 
[1]cid:image001.gif@01CE7738.933DD520
European Commission
DG TRADE
Unit B2 - Investment
CHAR 6/128
B-1049 Brussels/Belgium
+32 2 299 03 03

 

[2][email address]

Web : [3]http://ec.europa.eu/trade/

 

 

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Trade


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Dear Ms Eberhardt,

 

Please find attached the third and last part of the Annexes.

 

 

Best regards,

 

 

Leopoldo RUBINACCI
Head of Unit
 
[1]cid:image001.gif@01CE7738.D3B017D0
European Commission
DG TRADE
Unit B2 - Investment
CHAR 6/128
B-1049 Brussels/Belgium
+32 2 299 03 03

 

[2][email address]

Web : [3]http://ec.europa.eu/trade/

 

 

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3. http://ec.europa.eu/trade/

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