Stakeholder meetings DIDP and EDF

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

Waiting for an internal review by Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs of their handling of this request.

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 under 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 this context, I hereby respectfully request access to all documents containing the following information:

1. Details of all stakeholders consulted (including member states, industry, academia and others) on the decision to establish:

a) The European Defence Fund; and
b) The Defence Industrial Development Programme.

2. Details of all meetings, including minutes of meetings, with all stakeholders identified under 1(a) and 1(b) respectively, in relation to:

a) The European Defence Fund; and
b) The Defence Industrial Development Programme.

3. All correspondence with the stakeholders identified under 1(a) and 1(b) respectively, in relation to:

a) The European Defence Fund; and
b) The Defence Industrial Development Programme.

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 Sir,

Thank you for your e-mail dated 15/11/2017. We hereby acknowledge receipt of your application for access to documents, which was registered on 21/11/2017 under reference number GestDem 2017/7033.

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 12/12/2017. 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.

Yours faithfully,

DG GROW – Access to documents team

European Commission
Directorate-General for Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs
DG GROW/A1 – Communication, Access to Documents and Document Management

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Dear Mr Vranken,

We refer to your e-mails dated 15/11/2017 in which you make a request for
access to documents, registered on 21/11/2017 under the above mentioned
reference numbers.

Your applications are 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 12/12/2017.

An extended time limit is needed as your applications concern a large
number of documents and large files have to be examined.

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 11/01/2018.

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

Yours sincerely,

 

DG GROW – Access to documents team

 

[1]cid:479385507@17082012-2045

European Commission
Directorate-General for Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and
SMEs
DG GROW/A1 – Communication, Access to Documents and Document Management

 

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Dear Mr Vranken,

 

We refer to your e-mails dated 15/11/2017 in which you make two requests
for access to documents, registered on 21/11/2017 under the above
mentioned reference numbers.

The reply to your requests could not be finalised today. Therefore, we are
not in a position to complete the handling of your application within the
extended time limit of 15 working days, which expires today (11/01/2018).
Please be reassured that we are doing our best to be able to send you the
reply in the coming days.

 

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

 

Kind 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/A1 – Communication, Access to Documents and Document Management

 

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Attachment GestDem 2017 7033 7037 Ares 6874951 B Vranken.pdf
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Dear Mr Vranken,

 

Please find attached a letter signed by Ms Lowri Evans, Director-General
for Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs.

 

Kind regards

 

Unit I4

Defence, Aeronautic and Maritime Industries

Secretariat

 

 
European Commission
DG GROW
BREY 9/028

1049 Brussels/Belgium
+32 2 299 48 58

 

 

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From: Bram Vranken

Delivered

Dear Sir/Madam,

We refer to your letter of 23 February 2018 concerning access to documents requests 2017/7033 and 2017/7037 submitted to you on 15 November 2017 pursuant to Regulation 1049/2001 ("Regulation"), by which you refuse to disclose the requested documents (see https://www.asktheeu.org/en/request/stak.... The present letter constitutes our confirmatory application in accordance with Article 7 of the Regulation.

We note that you base your decision (in respect of both requests) on two different grounds, namely:

- The disclosure of the requested documents would undermine the protection of the public interest as regards defence and public security matters pursuant to Article 4.1(a) of the Regulation because they are "related in their totality to the EU Defence and public security policy" ("Defence and public security exceptions"); and

- The requested documents separately fall under the exception in Article 4(3) of the Regulation covering disclosure that would seriously undermine the European Commission's decision-making process on the basis that they refer to topics which all "pertain to on-going policy and decision-making initiatives (European Defence fund which is in its implementation phase, Defence Research preparatory action for which the selection of projects is on-going and the Defence Industrial Development Programme which is in the decision-making process (trilogue))" ("Decision-making process exception").

We take the view that the above-mentioned grounds cannot serve as a valid basis to refuse disclosure of the requested documents for the following reasons:

1) Defence and public security exceptions: The reasons you have put forward to justify the application of the exceptions are strikingly vague and thus unsatisfactory. In particular, you have not explained how disclosure can "specifically and actually" undermine the public interest as regards defence and public security matters and why this is "reasonably foreseeable and not purely hypothetical", as required by the established case law of the Court of Justice of the EU (see e.g. Cases 576/12 P, para. 45; C-280/11 P, para. 54; and C-506/08 P, para. 76); and

2) Decision-making process exception:
- You justify the application of the exception by stating that all the documents requested "pertain to on-going policy and decision-making initiatives". However, the scope of the exception is narrower than that. It applies solely to (i) documents "drawn up by an institution for internal use or received by an institution" where the decision-making process is ongoing, and (ii) documents "containing opinions for internal use as part of deliberations and preliminary consultations" where the decision has been taken. The refusal should be therefore revisited and the documents which do not fall within the above categories disclosed. In addition, an explanation should be provided as to why the remaining documents fall prima facie within the scope of the exception (specifying, in particular, whether they relate to an on-going decision-making process or a one where the decision has been already taken).

- In any event, you have failed to show how disclosing the documents would be "likely, specifically and actually" to seriously undermine the protection of the European Commission's decision-making process, and that the risk of that interest being undermined was "reasonably foreseeable and not purely hypothetical", as required by the established case law of the Court of Justice of the EU (see e.g. Case T-471/08, paras. 70-71).

- Separately, you have failed properly to take into account the existence of an overriding public interest in disclosure, stemming from the enhanced public debate and increased accountability concerning the arms industry's influence on EU defence policy (in particular on the setting up the Group of Personalities on Defence Research, the European Defence Fund and the Defence Industrial Development Programme). In particular, getting a proper overview of the arms industry's lobbying in respect of these initiatives (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 the European Commission are in the sole interest of EU citizens rather than being beholden to the arms lobby. As such, there is clearly an overriding public interest in disclosure of the documents requested.

On that basis, we respectfully request that you reconsider your decision, fully comply with your obligations under the Regulation, and disclose the requested documents accordingly.

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 Sir,

Thank you for your email dated 08/03/2018, 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 2017/7033 & 2017/7037.

We hereby acknowledge receipt of your confirmatory application for access to documents which was registered on 09/03/2018 (Ares(2018)1309419).

Your application will be handled within 15 working days (04/04/2018). 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.

We kindly offer you the possibility to provide us a contact phone number (by email to [email address]), 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.

Kind regards,

Carlos Remis
SG.B.4
Transparence
Berl. 05/315

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From: EC ARES NOREPLY


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[5]Ares(2018)1763239 - 1st Holding reply - VRANKEN - Gestdem 2017/7033 &
2017/7037

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.

Subject: Your confirmatory application for access to documents under
Regulation (EC) No 1049/2001 – GESTDEM 2017/7033 & 2017/7037

 

Dear Mr Vranken,

I refer to your email of 8 March 2018, registered on 9 March 2018, through
which you submit a confirmatory application in accordance with Article
7(2) of Regulation (EC) No 1049/2001 regarding public access to European
Parliament, Council and Commission documents ('Regulation 1049/2001').

Your confirmatory application is currently being handled. Unfortunately,
we have not yet been able to gather all the elements we need to carry out
a full analysis of your request in order to take a final decision and,
therefore, we are not in a position to reply to your confirmatory request
within the prescribed time limit expiring 4 April 2018.

Consequently, we have to extend the deadline for handling it by another 15
working days in accordance with Article 8(2) of Regulation 1049/2001. The
new deadline expires on 24 April 2018.

We apologise for any inconvenience this may cause.

 

 

Martine Fouwels

Deputy Head of Unit

[6]Flag

European Commission

Secretariat General

Unit B4 (Transparency)

 

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From: EC ARES NOREPLY


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[5]Ares(2018)2181452 - Your confirmatory application for access to
documents under Regulation (EC) No 1049/2001 - GestDem 2017/7033 and 7037

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,

 

I refer to your email of 8 March 2018, registered on 9 March 2018, in
which you submit a confirmatory application in accordance with Article
7(2) of Regulation (EC) No 1049/2001 regarding public access to European
Parliament, Council and Commission documents ('Regulation 1049/2001').

 

I also refer to our holding reply dated 2 April 2018, by which the time
limit for replying to your confirmatory request was extended by 15 working
days, pursuant to Article 8(2) of the Regulation. This extended time limit
expires on 25 April 2018.

 

We are still assessing your application. Consequently, we will not be able
to respond within the extended time limit.

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

 

 

Martin Kröger

Head of Unit

[6]Flag

European Commission

Secretariat-General

Unit B4 (Transparency)

 

References

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From: Bram Vranken

Failed

Dear Martin Kröger,

Many thanks for your response.

I would like to point out that according to Regulation (EC) No 1049/2001 Article 8 a confirmatory application shall be handled promptly. As the Commission has failed to do so, it would be appreciated if the Commission could provide an indication of the time frame the confirmatory application will be handled in?

Yours sincerely,

Bram Vranken

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From: Bram Vranken

Delivered

Dear Mr. Kröger,

This letter concerns the above-mentioned access to documents request submitted to the Commission by Vredesactie on 15 November 2017 pursuant to Regulation 1049/2001.

The Commission refused to disclose the requested documents in its Initial Reply dated 23 February 2018. The deadline to reply to the confirmatory application was 25 April 2018. On 24 April 2018, the Commission informed Vredesactie that it would not be able to respond by 25 April 2018.

In the letter dated 24 April 2018, the Commission did not provide any indication of when it would provide a response or the specific reasons delaying the response. To date, Vredesactie has received responses to similar questions from other EU actors. It is now more than two months later than the deadline for the confirmatory application and no further information has been received from the Commission.

Vredesactie's requests are motivated by the desire to understand who the Commission has contact with when formulating key policies in the area of defence. While the Commission may be a well-intending actor, the public should be able to have a basic understanding of who might be interacting with the Commission in relation to the development of important policies, and how those stakeholders might be influencing the development of those policies. This is essential for an open and democratic society.

Vredesactie would appreciate further information from the Commission on the status of its application as soon as possible and requests that a formal confirmatory reply be provided by 17 September 2018 at the latest. If the Commission fails to reply by that date, Vredesactie will be forced to consider further action, including making a complaint to the Ombudsman.

Yours faithfully,

Bram Vranken

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