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The Hague, 8 July 2009
Management Board  
EDOC# 360875 v9
 
File no. 3550-95r3
 
 
DECISION OF THE MANAGEMENT BOARD OF 
EUROPOL  
laying down the rules concerning access to Europol 
documents 
 
THE MANAGEMENT BOARD OF EUROPOL, 
Having regard to the Council Decision establishing the European Police Office 
(EUROPOL) of 06 April 2009 (hereinafter “the Europol Decision”)  1 and in 
particular Article 45 thereof, 
 
Whereas: 
(1)   According to Article 45 of the Europol Decision, on the basis of a 
 
proposal by the Director of Europol, the Management Board, shall   adopt 
rules concerning access to Europol documents, taking into   account 
the 
principles and limits set out in Regulation (EC) No  
1049/2001 
of 
the 
European Parliament and of the Council of 30 May  
2001 
regarding 
public 
access to European Parliament, Council and   Commission 
documents 
(hereinafter referred to as “Regulation   1049/2001”). 
(2) 
 The second subparagraph of Article 1 of the Treaty on European   Union 
(hereinafter referred to as “the EU Treaty”) enshrines the  
concept 
of 
openness, stating that the Treaty marks a new stage in the   process of creating 
an ever closer union among the peoples of Europe,   in  which  decisions  are 
taken as openly as possible and as closely as   possible to the citizen. 
(3)  
Openness guarantees that the administration enjoys greater legitimacy 
   
and is more effective and more accountable to the citizen in a  
   
democratic system. Openness contributes to strengthening the  
   
principles of democracy and respect for fundamental rights as laid  
   
down in Article 6 of the EU Treaty, in Article 255 of the Treaty  
   
establishing the European Community and in Article 42 of the Charter 
   
of Fundamental Rights of the European Union. 
(4)  
In accordance with Article 41(1) of the EU Treaty, the right of access 
 
also applies to documents relating to police and judicial cooperation in 
 criminal 
matters. 
                                            
(1) OJ L 121, 15.05.2009, p.37.  
 
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(5)  
In principle, all documents should be accessible to the public. However, 
 
public and private interests should be protected by way of exceptions. 
 
Europol should be entitled where necessary to safeguard its ability to 
 
carry out its tasks. 
(6) 
 In order to ensure that the right of access is fully respected, a two-  stage 
administrative procedure should apply. 
(7)  
These rules are without prejudice to Article 30 of the Europol Decision 
 
on the right of access, 
 
HAS ADOPTED THE FOLLOWING DECISION: 
 
Article 1 
Definitions 
 
For the purpose of these rules: 
(a) “Europol document” or “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 Europol’s activities, 
policies and decisions; 
(b) “Third parties” means third States and organisations as referred to in Article 
23(1) of the Europol Decision;  
(c) “EU bodies“ means institutions, bodies, offices and agencies set up by, or on 
the basis of, the Treaty on European Union and the Treaties establishing the 
European Communities, as referred to in Article 22(1) of the Europol 
Decision; 
(d) “Private parties or private persons” shall mean any legal or natural parties or 
persons as referred to in Article 25(1) of the Europol Decision; 
(e) 
“Europol classified documents” shall mean documents which contain 
information requiring additional security measures and which are marked with 
one of the classification levels “Europol RESTRICTED”, “Europol 
CONFIDENTIAL”, “Europol SECRET” or “Europol TOP SECRET” in 
accordance with the Rules on the confidentiality of Europol information.  
 
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Article 2 
Purpose 
 
The purpose of these rules is: 
(a) to define the principles, conditions and limits on grounds of public or private 
interest governing the right of access to Europol documents in such a way as 
to ensure the widest possible access to documents; 
(b) to establish rules ensuring the easiest possible exercise of this right; and 
(c) to promote good administrative practice on access to documents. 
 
Article 3 
Beneficiaries and scope 
 
1.  Any citizen of the Union and any natural or legal person residing or having its 
registered office in a Member State, has a right of access to documents of 
Europol, subject to the principles, conditions and limits defined in these rules. 
2.  Europol may, subject to the same principles, conditions and limits, grant access 
to documents to any natural or legal person not residing or not having its 
registered office in a Member State. 
3. These rules shall apply to all documents held by Europol, that is to say, 
documents drawn up or received by it and in its possession, in all areas of 
activity of Europol.  
4. Individuals specifically requesting data only related to them shall not be covered 
by these rules. In such cases individuals shall be referred to the procedure 
mentioned in Article 30 of the Europol Decision. 
5.  Without prejudice to Article 4, documents shall be made accessible to the public 
either following a written application or directly in electronic form in accordance 
with Article 11. 
 
Article 4 
Exceptions 
 
1.  Europol shall refuse access to a document where disclosure would undermine 
the protection of: 
(a)  the public interest as regards: 
  public security including the safety of natural and legal persons,  
  the proper fulfilment of Europol’s tasks, 
  investigations and operational activities of Member States, third 
parties or EU bodies,  
  defence and military matters, 
 
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  international relations,  
  the financial, monetary or economic policy of the Community or a 
Member State, 
(b) the privacy and integrity of the individual. 
2.  Europol shall refuse access to a document where disclosure would undermine 
the protection of: 
  commercial interests of a natural or legal person, including 
intellectual property, 
  court, arbitration and dispute settlement proceedings and legal 
advice, 
  the purpose of inspections, investigations and audits, other than 
those mentioned under paragraph 1 (a), 
unless there is an overriding public interest in disclosure. 
3.  Access to a document, drawn up for internal use or received by Europol, which 
relates to a matter where the decision has not been taken by Europol, shall be 
refused if disclosure of the document would undermine Europol’s decision-
making process, unless there is an overriding public interest in disclosure. 
Access to a document containing opinions for internal use as part of 
deliberations and preliminary consultations within Europol shall be refused even 
after the decision has been taken if disclosure of the document would undermine 
Europol’s decision-making process, unless there is an overriding public interest 
in disclosure.   
4.  As regards documents originating in whole or in part from Member States, third 
parties, EU bodies, private parties or private persons, Europol shall consult them 
with a view to assessing whether paragraphs 1, 2 or 3 are applicable. If the 
document originates from a Member State, third party or EU body with which 
Europol has concluded a cooperation agreement, Europol will not disclose the 
document without their written consent. 
5.  If only parts of the requested document are covered by any of the exceptions, 
the remaining parts of the document shall be released.  
6.  The exceptions as laid down in paragraph 1 to 3 shall only apply to the period 
during which protection is justified on the basis of the content of the document. 
The exceptions may apply for a maximum period of 30 years. In the case of 
documents covered by the exceptions relating to integrity or privacy of individuals 
or commercial interests and in the case of Europol classified documents, the 
exceptions may, if necessary, continue to apply after this period.  
 
 
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Article 5 
Europol documents in the Member States, third parties and EU bodies with which 
Europol has concluded a cooperation agreement 
 
Where a Member State, a third party or EU body with which Europol has 
concluded a cooperation agreement receives a request for a document in its 
possession originating from Europol, Europol shall undertake that these parties 
consult with Europol in order to take a decision that does not jeopardise the 
objectives of these rules. Europol shall also undertake that the third parties and 
EU bodies with which Europol has concluded a cooperation agreement do not 
disclose the document without Europol’s written consent. Europol shall ensure 
that this obligation is reflected in the cooperation agreements concluded between 
Europol and third parties and EU bodies.  
Member States may, as an alternative, refer the request to Europol. 
 
Article 6 
Applications 
 
1. Applications for access to a document shall be made in any written form, 
including electronic form, in one of the languages referred to in Article 47(1) of 
the Europol Decision and in a sufficiently precise manner to enable Europol to 
identify the document. The applicant is not obliged to state reasons for the 
application. 
2.  If any application is not sufficiently precise, Europol shall invite the applicant to 
provide additional information making it possible to identify the documents 
requested. The deadline for reply as established in Article 7 and 8 shall begin 
when Europol has received the additional information. 
3.  In the event of an application relating to a very long document or to a very large 
number of documents, Europol may confer with the applicant, with a view to 
finding a fair solution. 
4.  Europol shall provide information and assistance to citizens on how and where 
applications for access to documents can be made. Guidance shall be set up on 
the Europol website. 
 
Article 7 
Processing of initial applications 
 
1. An application for access to a document shall be handled promptly. An 
acknowledgement of receipt shall be sent to the applicant. Within 30 working 
days from registration of the application, Europol shall either grant access to the 
document requested and provide access in accordance with Article 10 within that 
period or, in a written reply, state the reasons for the total or partial refusal and 
inform the applicant of his or her right to make a confirmatory application in 
accordance with paragraph 3 of this Article.  
 
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2. In exceptional cases, for example in the event of an application relating to a very 
long document or to a very large number of documents, the time-limit provided 
for in paragraph 1 may be extended by 30 working days, provided that the 
applicant is notified in advance and that detailed reasons are given. 
3. In the event of a total or partial refusal, the applicant may, within 30 working days 
of receiving Europol’s reply, make a confirmatory application asking Europol to 
reconsider its position. 
4. Failure by Europol to reply within the prescribed time-limit shall entitle the 
applicant to make a confirmatory application.  
 
Article 8 
Processing of confirmatory applications 
 
1. A confirmatory application shall be handled promptly. Within 30 working days 
from registration of such an application, Europol shall either grant access to the 
document requested and provide access in accordance with Article 10 within that 
period, or in a written reply, state the reasons for the total or partial refusal.  
2. In exceptional cases, for example in the event of an application relating to a very 
long document or to a very large number of documents, the time limit provided 
for in paragraph 1 may be extended by 30 working days, provided that the 
applicant receives reasoned notice in advance. 
 
Article 9 
Europol classified documents 
 
1.  Applications for access to Europol classified documents under the procedures 
laid down in Articles 7 and 8 shall be handled only by those persons within 
Europol who have a right to acquaint themselves with those documents in 
accordance with the provisions of the Europol Security Manual.  
2.  Europol classified documents shall not automatically be subject to refusal of 
access. Every classified document shall be examined whether any of the 
exceptions provided for by Article 4 apply. Classified documents can not be 
disclosed, unless they have been declassified in accordance with Article 10 of 
the Rules on confidentiality. Access to classified Member State, third party and 
EU body documents shall be subject to the consultation mechanism referred to in 
Article 4(4).  
3.  If Europol decides to totally or partially refuse access to a classified document it 
shall give the reasons for its decision in a manner which does not harm the 
interests protected in Article 4. 
 
 
 
 

 
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Article 10 
Access following an application 
 
1.  The applicant shall have access to documents by receiving a copy, including 
where available in electronic form, according to the applicant’s preference. 
Copies of less than 20 A4 pages and direct access in electronic form shall be 
free of charge. Otherwise, the real cost of producing and sending the copies will 
be charged to the applicant.  
2.  If a document has already been released by Europol, the Member State, third 
party or EU body concerned and is easily accessible to the applicant, Europol 
may fulfil its obligation of granting access to documents by informing the 
applicant how to obtain the requested document.  
3. Documents shall be supplied in an existing version and format (including 
electronically or in an alternative format such as Braille, large print or tape) and in 
one of the available linguistic versions in accordance with the applicant’s 
preference.  
 
Article 11 
Direct access in electronic form  
 
1.  Europol shall provide access to a register of publicly accessible documents and 
shall as far as possible make documents directly accessible in electronic form. 
2. In particular, legislative documents, that is to say, documents drawn up or 
received in the course of procedures for the adoption of acts which are legally 
binding, shall, subject to Article 4, be made directly accessible.  
 
Article 12 
Implementation 
 
The implementation of these rules shall be subject to a decision of the Director of 
Europol, which will in particular outline the involvement of Europol’s organs in the 
handling of public access requests to these documents. 
 
Article 13 
Information 
 
Europol shall take the requisite measures to inform the public of the rights they 
enjoy under these rules. 
 
 
 

 
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Article 14 
Reproduction of documents 
 
These rules shall be without prejudice to any existing rules on copyright which 
may limit the right to reproduce or exploit released documents of Member States, 
third parties, EU bodies, private parties and private persons. 
 
Article 15 
Entry into force 
 
These rules shall enter into force on the same day as the date of application of 
the Europol Decision. 
 
 
 
Done at The Hague on 08/07/2009  
Signed by Mr Sören Clerton 
                              For the Management Board 
The Chairman 
 
 
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