Meetings between DG MARKT and industry

Olivier Hoedeman made this access to documents request to Financial Stability, Financial Services and Capital Markets Union

The request was partially successful.

From: Olivier Hoedeman

Dear Internal Market and Services (MARKT),

Under the right of access to documents in the EU treaties, as developed in Regulation 1049/2001, I am requesting the following documents:

- a list of meetings of DG MARKT officials/representatives (including the European Commissioner and the Cabinet) and representatives of industry (including individual companies, including lobby consultancies and law firms, and/or industry associations) between January 1st 2013 and today;

- minutes and other reports of these meetings;

- all correspondence (including emails) between DG MARKT officials/representatives (including the European Commissioner and the Cabinet) and representatives of industry (including individual companies, including lobby consultancies and law firms, and/or industry associations) between January 1st 2013 and today.

Yours faithfully,

Olivier Hoedeman
on behalf of Corporate Europe Observatory (CEO)

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Financial Stability, Financial Services and Capital Markets Union

Dear Mr Hoedeman,
 
We refer to your e-mail dated 18 March 2013 in which you make a request
for access to documents.
 
The description given in your application relating to our Directorate
General is excessively broad (our Directorate general is composed of 24
operational units in charge of different sectors of activity according to
our organisation chart
([1]http://ec.europa.eu/dgs/internal_market/...) and
your questions involve all the units and all files of each unit in our
Directorate General. For these reasons, it is not possible to respond to
your request in its current form. With regard to our Cabinet, the same
remarks apply.
 
Regarding Commissioner Barnier, his agenda is publicly available on the
following website:
[2]http://ec.europa.eu/commission_2010-2014...
 
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. Your
request should mention a specific file in our Directorate General and/or
identify these individual companies, including lobby consultancies and law
firms, and/or industry associations to whose documents you wish to have
access. 
 
 
If you need assistance clarifying your application, you can contact us:
•       by email to: Didier [3][email address]
•       by telephone on: (+32) (0) 22 95 08 14
The time limit of 15 working days for handling your application will start
running once we receive the requested clarifications.
Thank you in advance for your understanding.
 
Yours faithfully,
 
Alvydas Stancikas
Head of Unit
 
 
 

References

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1. http://ec.europa.eu/dgs/internal_market/...
2. http://ec.europa.eu/commission_2010-2014...
3. mailto:[email address]

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From: Olivier Hoedeman

Dear Internal Market and Services (MARKT),

thank you for your response. We were very surprised by your statement that you consider our request to be "excessively broad". Our request, after all, only concerned documents related to meetings between DG MARKT officials and lobbyists (moreover, limited to the period since January 2013). We had expected that DG MARKT would keep an overview of such meetings, but this appears not to be the case. Your suggestion of narrowing down the request to cover a smaller part of DG MARKT is at odds with our objective of obtaining a full overview of meetings between DG MARKT officials and lobbyists.

We would therefore like to ask you to clarify whether there is really no central overview in DG Markt of such meetings? If this is not the case, then we would like to suggest to change this for the future.

If you insist that fulfilling our request is impossible, then we suggest to narrow down the request to cover Directorates F, G and H of DG Markt, the main directorates that deal with financial market regulation.

Yours faithfully,

Olivier Hoedeman
on behalf of Corporate Europe Observatory (CEO)

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Financial Stability, Financial Services and Capital Markets Union

Thank you for your message. I am out of the office untill 22 April. For
urgent matters, please contact our secretariat Tel. +322 2991567

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From: Olivier Hoedeman

Dear DG Internal Market and Services (MARKT),

I would like remind you that the deadline for responding to my request for access to documents has (long) passed. I submitted my request on March 18th (eight weeks ago) and provided clarification on April 17th. Since then I have not heard anything. I look forward to a swift response.

Yours faithfully,

Olivier Hoedeman
on behalf of Corporate Europe Observatory (CEO)

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Financial Stability, Financial Services and Capital Markets Union


Attachment image001.gif
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Attachment Access do documents 2013 1683.PDF.pdf
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Dear Mr Hoedeman,

 

Please find enclosed DG MARKT's reply to your email of 17/04/2014,
concerning the request registered under GESTDEM number 2014/1683.

 

Kind Regards

 

LUKASZ MICHALSKI
Unit B3 Secretary
 
European Commission

Directorate-General for Internal Market and Services
Unit B3: Application of single market law and European Parliament

SPA2 07/065
B-1049 Brussels/Belgium
+32 (0)229 21145
[1][email address]

 

References

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1. mailto:[email address]

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Financial Stability, Financial Services and Capital Markets Union

This e-mail was sent on 10 July but undeliverable

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Financial Stability, Financial Services and Capital Markets Union


Attachment Copy of CEO list meetings.xls
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Dear Mr Hoedeman,
Please find the enclosure linked to the previous message.
Yours sincerely,

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From: Olivier Hoedeman

Dear Internal Market and Services (MARKT),

Please pass this on to the person who conducts Freedom of Information reviews.

I am writing to request an internal review of Internal Market and Services (MARKT)'s handling of my FOI request 'Meetings between DG MARKT and industry'.

Returning to the office after the summer break I saw a new response to our request for access to documents (registered under number 2014/1683): a list of meetings between management of DG MARKT dealing with financial services and "industry representatives" between 1 January 2013 and 16 June 2014.

The reply included a very interesting list of such meetings. The list, however, is very rudimentary and does not mention which officials were present at the meetings, nor what topics were discussed. I also note the formulation "management of DG MARKT". Could you clarify whether the list indeed includes all meetings of DG MARKT officials/representatives (including the European Commissioner and the Cabinet) and representatives of industry (the wording of our request)?

In your reply, you write that concerning the second request "regarding the minutes and reports of these meetings, we have a system of internal debriefing, which does not give rise to formal documents." I would like to ask for an internal review of this claim.

There is no basis in the EU's access for documents rules to distinguish between "formal documents" and other documents. The definition of a “document” (in Article 3 of Regulation 1049/2001) is that “’Document’ shall mean any content whatever its medium (written on paper or stored in electronic form or as a sound, visual or audiovisual recording) concerning a matter relating to the policies, activities and decisions falling within the institution’s sphere of responsibility”. It is very hard to imagine that DG MARKT has no minutes and reports at all of its meetings with industry. I would therefore like to repeat my request for the release of these documents, whether they are considered formal or not.

A full history of my FOI request and all correspondence is available on the Internet at this address: http://www.asktheeu.org/en/request/meeti...

Yours faithfully,

Olivier Hoedeman
on behalf of Corporate Europe Observatory (CEO)

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From: Olivier Hoedeman

Dear Internal Market and Services (MARKT),

on September 5th 2014 I requested an internal review of Internal Market and Services (MARKT)'s handling of my FOI request 'Meetings between DG MARKT and industry'. The deadline for responding to this passed a week ago and I haven't even received a confirmation of receipt yet. Could you please look into this?

Yours faithfully,

Olivier Hoedeman
on behalf of Corporate Europe Observatory (CEO)

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Financial Stability, Financial Services and Capital Markets Union


Attachment annexes BOULODI 2014 11 10 10 52 17 5C4N7308 1.pdf
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Attachment BOULODI 2014 11 10 11 30 06 5C4N8012 1.pdf
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Dear Mr Hoedeman,

Please find enclosed our first answer signed by our Director General concerning your request above mentioned.
You will receive this answer by mail.

Yours sincerely,
Didier Boulouque
DG Financial Stability, Financial Services and Capital Markets Union

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Financial Stability, Financial Services and Capital Markets Union


Attachment Letter Hoedeman.pdf
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Attachment Annex 1 Hoedeman.pdf
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Attachment Annex 2 Hoedeman.pdf
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Dear Mr Hoedeman,
 
Please see attachments:
 
Best regards,
 
Didier Boulouque
MARKT B3
 
 
 

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Olivier Hoedeman left an annotation () %>

Subject: confirmatory application in relation to access to information request GESTDEM 3967/2014
Date: Tue, 23 Dec 2014 15:48:18 +0100
From: Olivier Hoedeman <olivier@corporateeurope.org>
To: sg-acc-doc@ec.europa.eu

Catherine Day
Secretary-General
European Commission
Rue de la Loi 200
B-1049 Brussels
Belgium

By email: Sg-Acc-Doc@ec.europa.eu

Confirmatory application in relation to access to information request GESTDEM 3967/2014

Dear Madam,

herewith I submit a confirmatory application inviting the Commission to review its position on my request for access to documents submitted to DG Internal Market and Services (MARKT) on March 18 2014 via http://www.asktheeu.org (GESTDEM 3967/2014). A full history of the request and all correspondence is available on the Internet at this address: http://www.asktheeu.org/en/request/meeti...

Referring to Regulation 1049/2001, I requested the following documents:
- a list of meetings of DG MARKT officials/representatives (including the European Commissioner and the Cabinet) and representatives of industry (including individual companies, including lobby consultancies and law firms, and/or industry associations) between January 1st 2013 and today;
- minutes and other reports of these meetings;
- all correspondence (including emails) between DG MARKT officials/representatives (including the European Commissioner and the Cabinet) and representatives of industry (including individual companies, including lobby consultancies and law firms, and/or industry associations) between January 1st 2013 and today.

On March 27th, DG Markt responded that they found the request to be "excessively broad", arguing that the request should "mention a specific file in our Directorate General and/or identify these individual companies, including lobby consultancies and law firms, and/or industry associations to whose documents you wish to have access." We replied (via http://www.asktheeu.org) arguing that the request was quite focused as it only concerned documents related to meetings between DG MARKT officials and lobbyists (moreover, limited to the period since January 2013). We had expected that DG MARKT would keep an overview of such meetings, but this appeared not to be the case. The suggestion of narrowing down the request to cover a smaller part of DG MARKT, we pointed out, was at odds with our objective of obtaining a full overview of meetings between DG MARKT officials and lobbyists. We asked DG Markt to clarify whether there is really no central overview of such meetings and stated that if this is not the case, then we would like to suggest to change this for the future. At the same time, we mentioned that if DG Markt insists that fulfilling our request is impossible, then we suggest to narrow down the request to cover Directorates F, G and H of DG Markt, the main directorates that deal with financial market regulation.

On July 16, 2014 we received a list of 434 meetings. The list is very interesting, also because it is probably the first time such information has been disclosed to the public. At the same time, it has to be said that the list is very rudimentary and does not mention which officials were present at the meetings, nor what topics were discussed. In the accompanying letter, DG Markt wrote that "regarding the minutes and reports of these meetings, we have a system of internal debriefing, which does not give rise to formal documents." On September 5th, we asked DG Markt for an internal review of this claim, mentioning that there is no basis in the EU's access for documents rules to distinguish between "formal documents" and other documents. The definition of a “document” (in Article 3 of Regulation 1049/2001) is that “’Document’ shall mean any content whatever its medium (written on paper or stored in electronic form or as a sound, visual or audiovisual recording) concerning a matter relating to the policies, activities and decisions falling within the institution’s sphere of responsibility”. As it is very hard to imagine that DG MARKT has no minutes and reports at all of its meetings with industry, we repeated our request for the release of these documents, whether they are considered formal or not.

In two letters dated 10 November and 27 November, we were informed that a total of 67 notes of meetings had been identified. With the letter of November 10th, five notes were released. However, most names were removed from the documents. The letter explains that "names of individuals from the Commission below the level of head of unit and of meetings participants have been withdrawn. The removal of such data prevents their use for direct marketing purposes in compliance with Article 38(2) of Regulation 45/2001". We believe the removal of these names is unjustified. There is a public interst in knowing which Commission offiicals met with which financial industry lobbyists. The reference to preventing "their use for direct marketing purposes" makes no sense in this context. We would therefore like to request the release of these names.

The letter dated 27 November argues that none of the remaining 62 documents can be fully disclosed, with reference to exceptions for disclosure provided in Article 4 of Regulation 1049/2001. Access is refused to half of the documents, due to "protection of commercial interests", "protection of the financial, monetary or economic policy" and "protection for the purpose of inspections, investigations and audits". Regarding "protection of commercial interests", DG Markt argues that they "cannot release meetings notes that reflect views expressed by companies or organisations that are not publicly available views, but opinions on the strategy of the companies or our comments thereon". We would like ask for a review of this approach and the decision to fully refuse access to half of the documents, which is far too restrictive and at odds with Regulation 45/2001 (as further explained below).

Regarding "protection of the financial, monetary or economic policy", DG Markt argues that the disclosure of eight documents cannot be released because this may have implications for financial stability. We would like to ask for a review of this decision, also because these were meetings that took place back in 2013 and during a previous Commission term. Information that could have caused financial instability is likely to now be so outdated that there is no risk anymore.

For the other half of the documents, DG Markt argues that full release is not possible due to "protection of commercial interests" and therefore only part of the text is released. A look at the released documents shows that virtually all substantial information has been removed, leaving so little in most of the documents that they become almost meaningless. In many cases not even the topic discussion is left included. DG Markt has clearly gone much too far in censoring the documents. Its interpretation of what falls under "protection of commercial interests" is far too broad. This exception should be used only in specific cases and not in the sweeping manner applied by DG Markt. Notes from meetings where companies or organisation express their views on EU policy-making should be released. DG Markt appears to these views to be confidential, which is at odds with Regulation 45/2001. We would like to appeal DG Markt's decision on these documents.

Also names of most individuals have been removed ("Commission staff below the level of head of unit and companies or organisations participants"). This is an excessive and a misinterpretation of data protection rules. As mentioned above, there is a public interest in knowing which Commission officials met with which financial industry lobbyists.

Yours sincerely,

Olivier Hoedeman
on behalf of Corporate Europe Observatory (CEO)

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Financial Stability, Financial Services and Capital Markets Union


Attachment Hoedeman 2014 3967 EN.pdf
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Attachment List of documents.pdf
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Attachment Scan Annexes redacted.pdf
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Dear Sir,
 
Please find attached an advance copy of our reply to your confirmatory
application for access to documents (GestDem 2014/3967).
 
 
The original document will also be sent to you by registered mail. Please
note however that the annexes are only sent electronically.
 
Kind regards,
 
ACCESS TO DOCUMENTS TEAM (PS)
European Commission
Secretariat General
Unit SG.B4 – Transparency
 
 
 
 

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Pam Bartlett Quintanilla left an annotation () %>

Corporate Europe Observatory have published an excellent piece that summarises this request process: http://corporateeurope.org/economy-finan...

They note that in 366 cases, records of meetings with lobbyists are not even kept. Where there is a record, the documents were erroneously redacted in many cases.

The most frequently used exceptions in this case were:
- Need to protect the “financial, monetary or economic policy of the Community or a Member State”,
- Need to protect “the purpose of inspection, investigations and audits”
- Need to protect the “commercial interest” of the companies concerned

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Things to do with this request

Anyone:
Financial Stability, Financial Services and Capital Markets Union only: