Ref. Ares(2019)2103981 - 26/03/2019
Directorate C - Transparency, Efficiency & Resources
SG.C.1-Transparency, Document Management & Access to Documents
Ms Laura Kayali
Rue de la Loi 62,
Copy per e-mail
Your applications for access to documents – GESTDEM 2019/1316,
2019/1317, 2019/1321, 2019/1323, 2019/1326, 2019/1351, 2019/1355,
2019/1356, 2019/1357, 2019/1360, 2019/1387, 2019/1389, 2019/1391,
2019/1395, 2019/1407, 2019/1413, 2019/1433, 2019/1475, 2019/1479,
2019/1482, 2019/1485, 2019/1486, 2019/1517, 2019/1534, 2019/1535
Dear Mrs Kayali,
We refer to your e-mails sent to the European Commission on 7 March 2019 in which
you make 25 requests for access to documents, registered under the above-mentioned
Your requests cover a period between November 2014 and March 2019 and concern:
‘- List of lobby meetings held with the DG with [Amazon, Google, Microsoft or
Facebook] or its intermediaries. The list should include: date, individuals attending +
organizational affiliation, the issues discussed,
- Minutes and other reports of these meetings
- All correspondence including attachments (i.e. any emails, correspondence or
telephone call notes) between this DG (including the Commissioner and the Cabinet) and
[Amazon, Google, Microsoft or Facebook] or any intermediaries representing its interests.
- All documents prepared for the meetings and exchanged in the course of the
meetings between both parties.’
Commission européenne/Europese Commissie, 1049 Bruxelles/Brussel, BELGIQUE/BELGIË - Tel. +32 22991111
Office: CHAR 03/003 ‐ Tel. direct line +32 229 94975
Your applications, referenced above, concern:
15 Directorates-General (AGRI, CLIMA, CNECT, COMP, ECFIN, EMPL, ENER,
FISMA, GROW, HOME, JUST, MOVE, SANTE, TAXUD, TRADE), Directors-
General, Commissioners and members of their Cabinet;
Have an almost identical wording;
- Cover a period between November 2014 and March 2019;
- Cover the same category of documents, namely documents relating to lobby
meetings of the European Commission and Amazon, Google, Microsoft or
Facebook or any intermediaries representing their interests.
Please note that a search in the document management systems of the European
Commission for ‘intermediaries’ of the companies you are interested in is not precise
enough to yield results.
We would like to inform you that the European Commission has received a very high
number of very similar requests for access to documents submitted by you but also by
other applicants concerning lobby meetings held within the European Commission with
Amazon, Google, Microsoft or Facebook or persons representing their interests. Although
the applicants are different entities, the requests are almost identical and were made at the
same time. The circumstances of the introduction of these requests, their timing, their
scope, as well as their wording give the impression that they result from a coordinated
action. It seems that you made a very wide-scoped request by introducing parts of it as
seemingly separate requests.
In this respect, the Court of First Instance1 confirmed that in its Ryanair
Article 6(3) may not be evaded by splitting an application into several, seemingly
separate, parts. As stated by the EU Courts, the European Commission needs to respect
the principle of proportionality and ensure that the interest of the applicant for access is
balanced against the workload resulting from the processing of the application for access
in order to safeguard the interests of good administration.
Similarly to the above-mentioned cases underlying the case-law of the EU Courts on
wide-scoped requests, the European Commission cannot, in this case, accept an artificial
splitting of a wide-scoped request into simultaneous, seemingly separate individual
applications, as this would result in a circumvention of Article 6(3) of Regulation
1049/2001, and the need for the Commission to ensure that to balance the interest in
public access to the documents against the burden of work so caused, in order to
safeguard the interests of good administration3.
1 Now 'General Court'.
2 Judgment of the General Court of 10 December 2010, Ryanair v Commission
EU:T:2010:511, paragraph 34.
3 Judgment of the Court of First Instance of 13 April 2005, Verein für Konsumenteninformation v
, T-2/03, EU:T:2005:125, paragraph 102.
The work needed to deal with your applications would entail multiple searches for
documents, which have to be undertaken simultaneously by 15 Directorates-General and
the Cabinets of the Commissioners. The work would cover the following steps:
• Contacts/exchanges consultations within the Directorates-General and the
services concerned and with other Directorates-General, services or Cabinets
which have received similar requests with the view of proposing a fair solution;
• Search for documents relating to meetings with Google, Facebook, Microsoft and
Amazon both at the level of the Directorate-General or the service concerned and
at the level of the Commissioner and his Cabinet in several document
management systems of the Commission;
• Retrieval and establishment of a complete list of the documents falling under the
scope of your requests;
• Scanning of the documents which are not in pdf format;
• Preliminary assessment of the content of the documents in light of the exceptions
of Article 4 of Regulation EC (No) 1049/2001;
• Assessment of the further procedural steps to undertake, for example whether
third party consultations should be made;
• (possibly) third-party consultations under Article 4(4) of Regulation 1049/2001
and (possibly) a further dialogue with the third party originators of documents
falling within the scope of your request;
• Final assessment of the documents in light of the comments received, including
of the possibility of granting (partial) access;
• Redactions of the relevant parts falling under exceptions of Regulation EC (No)
• Preparation of the draft reply for each of your requests by each of the services
• (possible) Consultation of the Legal Service ;
• Finalisation of the replies at administrative level and formal approvals of the draft
• Final check of the documents to be (partially) released (if applicable) (scanning of
the redacted versions, administrative treatment,…) and dispatch of the replies.
The handling of your numerous simultaneous requests involves the simultaneous work of
multiple Commission services and Cabinets. The search and analysis of the documents,
which fall within the scope of your requests, together with the need to possibly consult the
third parties concerned in accordance with Article 4(4) of Regulation (EC) No
1049/2001, cannot be expected to be completed within the normal time limits set out in
Article 7 of Regulation 1049/2001.
Article 6(3) of Regulation (EC) No 1049/2001 provides that
in the event of an
application relating to a very long document or to very large number of documents, the
institution concerned may confer with the applicant informally, with a view to finding a
fair solution. This article shall apply per analogy also to your requests, which, due to
their high number, wide-scope and time frame, they cover a multitude of Directorates-
General and services in the Commission, require numerous separate searches in several
document management systems of the Commission and potentially concern a very large
number of documents.
In accordance with the case law of the EU Courts, a fair solution can only concern the
content or the number of documents applied for, not the deadline for replying.4 This
means that the scope of your requests must be reduced in a way that would enable its
treatment within the extended deadline of 15 + 15 working days.
Based on the above-mentioned provision, we would kindly ask you to specify the objective
of your wide-scoped request and your specific interest in the documents requested5, and
whether you could narrow down the scope of your request, so as to reduce it to a more
In order to help you to narrow down your wide-scoped request, we attach lists of the lobby
meetings, which took place since 1.12.2014 between the Director-General concerned, the
Commissioner or a member of his Cabinet and Amazon, Google, Microsoft or Facebook
or any intermediaries representing their interests. These meetings are published in the
Transparency Register. 6
We propose one of the following alternative options for limiting the excessive
administrative burden relating to the handling of your wide-scoped request, made as
seemingly separate 25 simultaneous requests:
Restrict the temporary scope of your wide-scoped request to a period of your
choice not exceeding six months and limit its scope only to the meetings published
in the Transparency Register;
Limit the number of your seemingly separate requests to 8 requests of your choice;
- Limit the scope of your requests to 15 meetings of your choice published in the
Transparency Register for each one of the companies you are interested in
(Google, Amazon, Microsoft and Facebook).
4 Judgment of the Court of Justice of 2 October 2014, Guido Strack v Commission
, C-127/13 (hereafter
‘Guido Strack v Commission’
EU:C:2014:2250, paragraphs 26-28.
5 Ibid, paragraph 28; Judgment of the Court of First Instance, (now 'General Court') of 22 May 2012,
EnBW Energie Baden-Württemberg v Commission
, T-344/08, EU:T:2012:242, paragraph 105.
In order to enable us to provide you with a reply as soon as possible, we would ask you
for a swift response to our proposal for a fair solution within five working days at the
latest, by email to email@example.com.
In the absence of a reply within five working days, we we will unilaterally restrict the
scope of your application to those parts that can be dealt with within the extended deadline
of 30 working days, counting from the registration of your application.7
Thank you in advance for your cooperation.
Maria OLIVAN AVILES
Head of Unit
7 Guido Strack v Commission,
cited above, paragraph 27.
Electronically signed on 25/03/2019 18:58 (UTC+01) in accordance with article 4.2 (Validity of electronic documents) of Commission Decision 2004/563