Involvement of arms industry actors and private research centres in policy-making concerning the Preparatory Action on Defence Research

Bram Vranken made this access to documents request to European Defence Agency

Currently waiting for a response from European Defence Agency, they must respond promptly and normally no later than (details).

From: Bram Vranken

Delivered

Dear European Defence Agency,

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. Given the amount 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 the setting up and continuing development of the Preparatory Action on Defence Research.

For avoidance of doubt, I am seeking documents -- not already disclosed to the public -- which identify EDA interaction with any such arms industry actor and private research centre in relation to the Preparatory Action on Defence Research. 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 EDA wanted to consult in relation to matters covered by this initiative).

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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From: EDA Information
European Defence Agency

Dear Sir

Thank you for your e-mail dated 28 January 2019. We hereby acknowledge receipt of your application for access to documents.

Before addressing your application, please note the following:
•You have lodged your application via the AsktheEU.org website. Please note that this is a private third-party website, which has no link with any institution, agency or body of the European Union. Therefore, the European Defence Agency (EDA) cannot be held accountable for any technical issues or problems linked to the use of this system.

•Please further note that the private third party running the AsktheEU.org website is responsible for the processing of your personal data via that website, and not the EDA. For further information on your rights, please refer to the third party’s privacy policy.

•Please note that EDA cannot be held liable for any loss and damage you might suffer from using the third party website AsktheEU.org.

As regards your application, please note that the description given in your application does not enable us to identify concrete documents, which would correspond to your request, which is drafted in very broad terms.

We therefore invite you, pursuant to Article 6(2) of Regulation (EC) No 1049/2001 regarding public access to documents, to provide us with more detailed information on the documents which you seek to obtain, such as references, dates or periods during which the documents would have been produced, etc…Such additional elements should allow us to identify any documents, which we have not already shared under previous applications, which fall under the scope of your request.

Please be informed that the 15 working days’ time limit for handling your application will start running when we receive the requested clarifications.

Thank you in advance for your understanding.

Kind Regards,
EDA

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From: Bram Vranken

Delivered

Dear EDA,

On 30/01 you asked me to clarify my request regarding industry involvement in the decision making process of the Preparatory Action on Defence Research. You stated that the request is "is drafted in very broad terms".

The request covers all documents covering:
1. All documents containing information regarding the interaction between industry actors and the European Defence agency (such documents may comprise minutes of meetings/correspondence/etc.);
2. In relation to the Preparatory Action on Defence Research;
3. The request excludes documents which have already been disclosed or are already in the public domain. As a similar FOI request was filed on 15/02/17 (https://www.asktheeu.org/en/request/indu..., the current request does not cover the documents already disclosed in response to that request.

I hope this clarifies the scope of my request.

Yours sincerely,

Bram Vranken

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From: EDA Information
European Defence Agency

Dear Mr Vranken,

We refer to your email of 28/01 wherein you submit a request for access to documents.

We further refer to our request for clarification dated 30/01.

We finally refer to your reply of 01/02.

In your reply you refer to a request for access to documents you submitted on 15/02/2017, but you do not clarify the scope of your request. As it stands, it appears your application covers the same scope as the previous one.

As a result, we kindly ask you once more to please indicate references, dates or periods during which the documents would have been produced as well as any other information that would enable us to deal with your request (e.g. do you seek access to documents from that date - 15/02/2017 - until now?).

Once again, please be informed that the 15 working days’ time limit for handling your application will start running when we receive the requested clarifications.

Thank you in advance for your understanding.

Kind Regards,
EDA

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From: Bram Vranken

Delivered

Dear EDA,

Many thanks for your answer and your request for clarification. I would like to clarify that the current FOI request covers the period 01/01/2015 until the date of the application (28/01/19).

We believe the request is already very specific in its scope as it only relates to the involvement of defence industry actors and private research centres specifically in relation to the PADR and excludes any documents available to the public or previously disclosed.

We believe that 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. We would like to remind you about the recent decision taken by the European Ombudsman (case 811/2017/EA) which confirms the pressing need for transparency in this regard: https://www.ombudsman.europa.eu/en/decis....

Yours sincerely,

Bram Vranken

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Things to do with this request

Anyone:
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