Involvement of arms industry actors and private research centres in policy-making concerning the European Defence Industrial Development Programme and the European Defence Fund

Bram Vranken made this access to documents request to Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs

Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs did not have the information requested.

From: Bram Vranken

Delivered

Dear Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs,

I am writing on behalf of Vredesactie, a Member of the European Network Against Arms Trade ("ENAAT"), to exercise my right unders Regulation 1049/2001 to request access to documents as detailed below. As a Member of ENAAT, Vredesactie is actively involved in ensuring transparency within the EU institutions' defence and security policy-making process.

In 2016 the European Union took the unprecedented step and for the first time in its history set up a military research programme, the so-called Preparatory Action on Defence Research, worth €90m. Since then, the Commission has established the European Defence Fund, committing €13 billion for the research, development and procurement of weapons. Given the amounts at stake and potential for conflict of interests, there is a pressing need for transparency in this area to ensure that decisions taken by EU bodies are free from the influence of the arms industry.

With the above in mind, I hereby respectfully request access to:

All documents containing information relating to the involvement of arms industry actors not already disclosed to the public (e.g. arms companies, their lobby groups, etc.) and private research centres in the context of:

(1) the setting up and continuing development of the European Defence Industrial Development Programme ("EDIDP"), including in relation to considering a proposal to cover matters now addressed by the EDIDP, the decision to propose the EDIDP, subsequent legislative consideration of the EDIDP proposal and activities undertaken after the adoption of the EDIDP legislation; and

(2) the decision to propose the European Defence Fund and its subsequent legislative consideration.

For avoidance of doubt, I am seeking documents -- not already disclosed to the public -- which identify Commission interaction with any such arms industry actor and private research centre in relation to the initiatives above. Such documents may comprise minutes of meetings/correspondence with one or more of such stakeholders or otherwise refer to such stakeholders (for example, a document that identifies the type of entities that the Commission wanted to consult in relation to matters covered by the above-mentioned initiatives).

I believe that disclosure of documents containing the above information is crucial for an enhanced public debate and increased accountability concerning the arms industry's influence on EU defence policy. In particular, getting a proper overview of the arms industry's lobbying in respect of EU policies in this area (ultimately funded by EU taxpayers) is essential for the ability of EU citizens and the civil society to participate more fully in those decision-making processes as well as to oversee that the decisions taken by EU bodies faithfully in the interest of EU citizens rather than being beholden to the arms lobby.

Our request should be treated in light of the European Ombudsman's recent decision in this area (concerning the Group of Personalities on Defence Research) which stipulated that: "[t]ransparency in this regard should have been especially important in the case of the Group of Personalities given that companies represented within the group could be eligible for funding under the programmes that it was advising on […]. (emphasis added) (see Decision in case 811/2017/EA)". The Ombudsman's reasoning – essentially that there is a need for increased transparency when it comes to the involvement of arms industry companies in the formulation of EU defence policy given the potential for such companies to subsequently receive funding under such programmes – is directly applicable to the documents requested here. There is therefore a particularly pressing need for the requested documents to be disclosed in full and without undue delay.

Thank you for your consideration in this matter. Please let us know if you have any questions.

Yours faithfully,

Bram Vranken 
On behalf of Vredesactie

Vredesactie
Patriottenstraat 27, 
2600 Berchem 
www.vredesactie.be 
Tel. +32 (0) 3 281 68 39 
Mobile: +32 497 13 14 64

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Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs

Dear Mr Vranken,

Thank you for your e-mail dated 28/01/2019. We hereby acknowledge receipt of your application for access to documents, which was registered on 29/01/2019 under reference number GestDem 2019/0539.

In accordance with Regulation (EC) No 1049/2001 regarding public access to European Parliament, Council and Commission documents, your application will be handled within 15 working days. The time limit will expire on 19/02/2019. In case this time limit needs to be extended, you will be informed in due course.

You have lodged your application via the AsktheEU.org website. Please note that this is a private website which has no link with any institution of the European Union. Therefore the European Commission cannot be held accountable for any technical issues or problems linked to the use of this system.

Please note also that the European Commission is not responsible for any possible processing of personal data by the private organisation running the AsktheEU.org website, through which you have channelled your request. Please refer to their privacy policy.

Yours sincerely,
DG GROW – Access to documents team

European Commission
Directorate-General for Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs
DG GROW/03 – The Strategic planning and delivery Unit

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Dear Mr Vranken,

 

We refer to your e-mail dated 28/01/2019 in which you make a request for
access to documents, registered on 29/01/2019 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 on 19/02/2019.

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 12/03/2019.

 

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

 

Yours sincerely,

 

DG GROW – Access to documents team

European Commission
Directorate-General for Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and
SMEs
DG GROW/03 – Strategic Planning and Delivery Unit

 

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Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs


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Attachment GESTDEM 2019 5039 Vranken Ares1158395.pdf
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Attachment C 2018 7681 final.pdf
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Dear Mr Vranken,

 

Please find attached a letter from Mr Timo Pesonen, Director-General for
Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs.

A paper copy will follow by post.

 

Kind regards

 

Secretariat unit I4/Defence

 

 
European Commission
DG GROW
BREY 9/028

1049 Brussels/Belgium
+32 2 299 48 58

 

           

 

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From: Bram Vranken

Delivered

To Whom It May Concern,

We thank you for your response dated 8 March 2019 in respect of the above mentioned access to documents request.

In that letter, the Commission links the Gestdem 2019/0539 request to the Gestdem 2017/7033 request, which covered the period to 14 November 2018. The Commission essentially takes the position that, until 14 November 2018, the scope of the access to documents request covered by Gestdem 2019/0539 is the same as covered by Gestdem 2017/7033. Because the Commission sees no change in legal or factual circumstances since that request, it considers that it does not need to reconsider that reply. As for the period from 15 November 2018 to date, the Commission states that there are no additional documents matching the request.

The Commission's assessment of the request is based on the mistaken assumption that the Gestdem 2019/0539 request is the same in scope as Gestdem 2017/7033. This is not the case and it is requested that the Commission assess the request, in accordance with the explanation below.

The scope of Gestdem 2017/7033

Gestdem 2017/7033 requested documents pertaining to the decision to establish the EDIDP and EDP. Specifically, documents identifying stakeholders who were consulted and any meetings and correspondence with such stakeholders were requested.

In the confirmatory reply to the Gestdem 2018/7033 request dated 14 November 2018, the Commission construed that request as seeking, inter alia, a document or documents with (i) a list of stakeholders consulted; and (ii) a list of meetings with stakeholders. The Commission determined that no such lists existed and therefore provided no documents identifying meetings or consultations with stakeholders. Rather, only documents pertaining to correspondence were provided.

The scope of Gestdem 2019/0539

The request covered by Gestdem 2019/0539 is different from the request covered by Gestdem 2017/7033 in a number of respects (taking into account the Commission's interpretation of the scope of Gestdem 2017/7033).

First, the Gestdem 2019/0539 request is concerned not only with the decisions to set up EDIDP and EDP but also the broader contexts and subsequent stages of the initiatives;

Secondly, the Gestdem 2019/0539 request does not seek any document with a list of stakeholders or list of meetings, as the Commission finally construed Gestdem 2017/7033. Rather, it seeks all documents identifying interactions with the stakeholders subject to the request;

Thirdly, unlike the Gestdem 2017/7033 request, the request covered by Gestdem 2019/0539 does not seek information related to interactions with Member States. Further, it seeks documents that not only identify interactions with specific stakeholders but also documents that refer to actual or contemplated interaction with stakeholders in a more general way; and

Fourthly, as the Commission has rightly recognised, the time period is different since Gestdem 2019/0539 covers documents created since the confirmatory decision in Gestdem 2017/7033 (but also because it extends to documents evidencing interactions beyond any "decision" stages).

With the above in mind, the Commission is requested to reconsider the request covered by Gestdem 2019/0539. Under no circumstances should the Commission understand the request only to ask for documents showing lists of meetings or consultations with stakeholders. Rather, what is requested is documents – not already disclosed to the public – identifying actual or contemplated interaction with arms industry actors and private research centres (in relation to the EDIDP and EDP). Such documents may include, for example, an email confirming a meeting with an arms industry actor or a calendar record showing a meeting with such stakeholders.

To the extent that the request produces documents already identified under point 3 of the Gestdem 2017/7033 request, they may be excluded.

The Commission's prompt attention to this confirmatory application and timely disclosure of covered documents is appreciated.

Yours faithfully,

Bram Vranken

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From: ve_sg.accessdoc (SG)
Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs

[1]Ares(2019)1908061 - FW: Internal review of access to documents request
- Involvement of arms industry actors and private research centres in
policy-making concerning the European Defence Industrial Development
Programme and the European Defence Fund

Sent by ve_sg.accessdoc (SG) <[email address]>. All responses have
to be sent to this email address.
Envoyé par ve_sg.accessdoc (SG) <[email address]>. Toutes les
réponses doivent être effectuées à cette adresse électronique.

Dear Sir,

Thank you for your email dated 20/03/2019 by which you request, pursuant
to Regulation No 1049/2001 regarding public access to European Parliament,
Council and Commission documents, a review of the position taken by DG
GROW in reply to your initial application GESTDEM 2019/539.

We hereby acknowledge receipt of your confirmatory application for access
to documents which was registered on 21/03/2019 (Ares(2019)1907635).

Your application will be handled within 15 working days (11/04/2019).  In
case this time limit needs to be extended, you will be informed in due
course.

Please be informed that the answer to your confirmatory application is a
formal Commission decision that will be notified to you by express
delivery. Thank you for providing your contact phone number, so that the
external delivery service can contact you in case of absence.

Please note that the Commission will not use your phone number for any
other purpose than for informing the delivery service, and that it will
delete it immediately thereafter.

Yours faithfully,

Carlos Remis
SG.C.1
Transparence
Charl. 03/21

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Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs


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Attachment GESTDEM 2019 5039 Vranken Ares1158395.pdf
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Attachment C 2018 7681 final.pdf
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Dear Mr Vranken,

FYI - Please note that we sent you a paper copy of our reply letter on 7
March 2019. Today, we got back the envelope unopen. The acknowledgement of
receipt states 'non réclamé' .

Best regards,

 

 

DG GROW – Access to documents team

 

[1]cid:479385507@17082012-2045

European Commission
Directorate-General for Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and
SMEs
DG  GROW/03 – The Strategic planning and delivery Unit

 

 

 

From: BEKCHIEVA Polina (GROW) On Behalf Of GROW I4
Sent: Thursday, March 7, 2019 12:15 PM
To: '[FOI #6334 email]'
<[FOI #6334 email]>
Cc: GROW ACCES DOCUMENTS <[DG GROW request email]>
Subject: Your application for access to documents Ref. GestDem No
2018/0539

 

Dear Mr Vranken,

 

Please find attached a letter from Mr Timo Pesonen, Director-General for
Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs.

A paper copy will follow by post.

 

Kind regards

 

Secretariat unit I4/Defence

 

European Commission
DG GROW
BREY 9/028

1049 Brussels/Belgium
+32 2 299 48 58

 

 

 

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From: Bram Vranken

Delivered

Dear Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs,

Many thanks for the notification. We have well received the documents attached digitally on the 7th of March, but it seems something has gone wrong with the paper copy.

Please note that we have filed a confirmatory application on the 20th of March against the initial decision sent by you on the 7th of March.

Yours faithfully,

Bram Vranken

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From: ve_sg.accessdoc (SG)
Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs


Attachment Vranken 2019 539.pdf
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[5]Ares(2019)2391006 - Your confirmatory application for access to
documents under Regulation (EC) No 1049/2001 - GESTDEM 2019/539

Sent by ve_sg.accessdoc (SG) <[email address]>. All responses have
to be sent to this email address.
Envoyé par ve_sg.accessdoc (SG) <[email address]>. Toutes les
réponses doivent être effectuées à cette adresse électronique.

Dear Mr Vranken,

 

Please find attached an advance copy of a letter in accordance with
Regulation (EC) N° 1049/2001 regarding public access to European
Parliament, Council and Commission documents – GESTDEM 2019/539.

Please note that the paper copy will be hand delivered.

 

Yours sincerely,

 

 

ACCESS TO DOCUMENTS TEAM (MN)

 

[6]cid:image001.png@01D3BD42.20769590

 

European Commission

Secretariat-General

SG C.1 – Transparency, Document Managemet

& Access to documents

[7][email address]

 

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4. file:///tmp/~~colorschememapping~~
5. https://webgate.ec.testa.eu/Ares/ext/doc...
7. mailto:[email address]

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