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Dear European Economic and Social Committee,

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

List of EESC members and staff who attended the 17th meeting of the EU-China Civil Society Round Table in Shanghai, China in July 2019.

A breakdown of r/t flight details, individual ticket costs and seating class assignments (first class, business or economy) for the presidents of each of the three groups and the EESC members and staff who attended the round table.

Any documents that reveal who authorised the trip.

Yours faithfully,

Nikolaj Nielsen

EUobserver
Rue Montoyer / Montoyerstraat 18B
1000 Brussels
Belgium

CourrierArchivesCESE, Comité Económico y Social Europeo

Dear Mr Nielsen,

Thank you for your request sent on 10 September of which we hereby acknowledge receipt.

In accordance with the decision of the European Economic and Social Committee of 1 July 2003 on public access to European Economic and Social Committee documents (2003/603/EC), your request will be handled within 15 working days. The time limit will expire on 02/10/2019. In case this time limit needs to be extended, you will be informed in due course.

Best regards,

Mail & Archives Sector

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CourrierArchivesCESE, Comité Económico y Social Europeo

Dear Mr Nielsen,

Thank you for your request sent on 10 September 2019 of which we hereby acknowledge receipt. It is being processed now.

Best regards,

Mail & Archives Sector

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CourrierArchivesCESE, Comité Económico y Social Europeo

Dear Sir,

 

We refer to the four access to documents requests which you sent on 10
September 2019.

 

Each of your requests is currently being handled. However, due to the
complexity of the subject matters and the number of files involved, we are
not in a position to finalize the processing of your applications within
the time limit.

 

Therefore, we are obliged to extend the deadline by a further 15 working
days in accordance with Article 7(3) of Regulation (EC) No. 1049/2001
regarding public access to documents.

 

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

 

Yours faithfully,

 

Mail & Archives Sector

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In such a case, please delete this message and kindly notify the sender
accordingly.

Dear European Economic and Social Committee,

Please pass this on to the person who reviews confirmatory applications.

I am filing the following confirmatory application with regards to my access to documents request 'EU China Roundtable'.

By law, under all circumstances, the EESC should have responded by now.

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

Yours faithfully,

Nikolaj Nielsen

CourrierArchivesCESE, Comité Económico y Social Europeo

1 Adjuntos

Dear Mr Nielsen,

 

In our email of 2 October 2019 we informed you about the need to extend
the deadline of our reply by a further 15 working days, due to the fact
that the internal consultation process for the relevant documents and the
detailed analysis of all legal aspects linked to the possible disclosure
of these documents was particularly time consuming.

 

In this respect, as a reply to your request for access to documents dated
10 September 2019, please note the following.

 

The remit of the EESC on EU-China relations has been established in the
9th EU-China Summit at the level of the Council, back in 2006, see
paragraph 35 of the Summit Joint Statement below:

 

"Leaders recognized the importance of a healthy and developing civil
society for the sustainability of the reform process both in the EU and
China. Leaders were of the view that the exchanges and cooperation between
the China Economic and Social Council (CESC) and the European Economic and
Social Committee (EESC) constituted a part of the relationship. To
reinforce existing ties, they endorsed and encouraged the establishment of
a regular roundtable to contribute to the enrichment and development of
the EU-China comprehensive strategic partnership."

 

Pursuant to Article 4(1)(b) of Regulation (EC) No 1049/2001, access to a
document has to be refused if its disclosure would undermine the
protection of privacy and the integrity of the individual, in particular
in accordance with European Union legislation regarding the protection of
personal data. The applicable legislation in this field is Regulation (EU)
2018/1725 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 23 October 2018
on the protection of natural persons with regard to the processing of
personal data by the Union institutions, bodies, offices and agencies and
on the free movement of such data, and repealing Regulation (EC) No
45/2001 and Decision No 1247/2002/EC  (Regulation 2018/1725).

 

Flight details, individual ticket costs and seating class assignments
contain personal data, undermining the privacy of the members concerned.
Indeed, Article 3(1) of Regulation 2018/1725 provides that personal data
"means any information relating to an identified or identifiable natural
person […]". The Court of Justice has specified that any information,
which by reason of its content, purpose or effect, is linked to a
particular person is to be considered as personal data.

 

In its judgment in Case C-28/08 P (Bavarian Lager), the Court of Justice
ruled that when a request is made for access to documents containing
personal data, the Data Protection Regulation becomes fully applicable.

 

Pursuant to Article 9(1)(b) of Regulation 2018/1725, "personal data shall
only be transmitted to recipients established in the Union other than
Union institutions and bodies if [t]he recipient establishes that it is
necessary to have the data transmitted for a specific purpose in the
public interest and the controller, where there is any reason to assume
that the data subject’s legitimate interests might be prejudiced,
establishes that it is proportionate to transmit the personal data for
that specific purpose after having demonstrably weighed the various
competing interests".

 

Only if these conditions are fulfilled and the processing constitutes
lawful processing in accordance with the requirements of Article 5 of
Regulation 2018/1725, can the transmission of personal data occur.

 

According to Article 9(1)(b) of Regulation 2018/1725, the EESC has to
examine the further conditions for a lawful processing of personal data
only if the first condition is fulfilled, namely if the recipient has
established that it is necessary to have the data transmitted for a
specific purpose in the public interest. It is only in this case that the
EESC has to examine whether there is a reason to assume that the data
subject’s legitimate interests might be prejudiced and, in the
affirmative, establish the proportionality of the transmission of the
personal data for that specific purpose after having demonstrably weighed
the various competing interests.

 

As a result of our assessment, please find attached the list of EESC
members and staff who attended the 17th meeting of the EU-China Civil
Society Round Table in Shanghai, China in July 2019.

 

Moreover, we inform you that the 17th meeting of the EU-China Civil
Society Round Table, held in Shanghai, China, in July 2019, was approved
by a decision of the EESC Bureau of 11 December 2018.

 

Please note that this is the reply to your initial request. As it was
already under approval when you introduced a confirmatory request earlier
today, we do not take this confirmatory into account. We apologize for any
inconvenience this may have caused.

 

In accordance with Article 7(2) of Regulation (EC) No 1049/2001, you are
entitled to make a confirmatory application requesting the Committee to
review this position.

 

Such a confirmatory application should be addressed within 15 working days
upon receipt of this letter to the Secretary-General of the EESC or to the
following email address: [1][email address] .

 

Kind regards.

 

The EESC Mail/Archives Sector

 

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Dear European Economic and Social Committee,

Please pass this on to the person who reviews confirmatory applications.

I am filing the following confirmatory application with regards to my access to documents request 'EU China Roundtable'.

I fail to see how individual ticket costs purchased with public funds is a violation of privacy, especially since you have already released the names of the people.

You have in the past released detailed information when it comes to per diems of individual members. I fail to see how this is somehow different.

I would like to remind you that the European Court of Justice also said that documents containing personal data may be released provided necessity is demonstrated.

My necessity is predicated on my work as a journalist, whose job includes accessing information on how public funds are spent. By understanding how this money is used allows me to assess and explain to the wider public how their taxes are used.

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

Yours faithfully,

Nikolaj Nielsen

CourrierArchivesCESE, Comité Económico y Social Europeo

Dear Mr Nielsen,
 
Thank you for your confirmatory request sent on 27 October 2019 of which
we hereby acknowledge receipt. It is being processed now.
 
Best regards,
 
The Mail/Archives Sector
 
 

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CourrierArchivesCESE, Comité Económico y Social Europeo

Dear Sir,
 
We refer to your confirmatory request with regard to access to documents
below, of which we acknowledged receipt on 29 October.
 
Your request is currently being handled. However, due to the complexity of
the subject and to the large number of files to be examined, we will not
be in a position to finalize the processing of your application within the
time limit of 15 working days.
 
Therefore, we are obliged to extend the deadline by a further 15 working
days in accordance with Article 7(3) of Regulation (EC) No. 1049/2001
regarding public access to documents.
 
We apologize for this delay and for any inconvenience this may cause.
 
Yours faithfully,
 
The Mail/Archives Sector
_____________________________________________
From: Lechner Barbara On Behalf Of CourrierArchivesCESE
Sent: mardi, 29 octobre, 2019 18:16
To: '[FOI #7276 email]'
<[FOI #7276 email]>
Cc: access2documents <[email address]>
Subject: RE: Internal review of access to documents request - EU China
Roundtable: Acknowledgment of receipt
 
 
Dear Mr Nielsen,
 
Thank you for your confirmatory request sent on 27 October 2019 of which
we hereby acknowledge receipt. It is being processed now.
 
Best regards,
 
The Mail/Archives Sector
 
 

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CourrierArchivesCESE, Comité Económico y Social Europeo

1 Adjuntos

Dear Mr Nielsen,

 

1.       We refer to your email of 27 October 2019, by which you request,
pursuant to Regulation No 1049/2001, a review of the position taken by the
European economic and Social Committee in reply to your initial
application of 10 September 2018. In your confirmatory application, you
state, "I fail to see how individual ticket costs purchased with public
funds is a violation of privacy, especially since you have already
released the names of the people". Therefore, we assume that the documents
you are requesting are the individual flight tickets of EESC members and
staff who attended the 17th meeting of the EU-China Civil Society Round
Table, held in Shanghai, China, in July 2019. 

 

2.      At the outset, it should be noted that Regulation 1049/2001[1][1]
relates to public access to the European Parliament, Council and
Commission documents, and not to the EESC documents; public access to the
EESC documents is ensured by decision EESC 2003/603 of 1^st July
2003[2][2].

 

3.      Article 1 of this decision provides that, "any citizens of the
Union and any natural or legal person residing or having its registered
office in a Member State shall have a right of access to European Economic
and Social Committee documents, subject to the principles, conditions and
limits set out in Regulation (EC) No 1049/2001 and the specific provisions
laid down in this Decision". Moreover, according to Article 4 (1) of the
same EESC decision, "all documents drawn up by the Committee under the
consultative procedure must be accessible to citizens in electronic form,
as far as possible, subject to the limits laid down in Articles 4 and 9 of
Regulation (EC) No 1049/2001."

 

4.      It follows that EESC applies the principles, conditions and limits
defined in Regulation 1049/2001, including Article 4 of the later. In
order to give the fullest possible effect to the right of the public
access to its documents, the EESC admits applications of citizens under
the Regulation 1049/2001 as if they were made under the EESC decision
2003/603.

 

5.       Through EESC reply of 23 October to your initial request for
access to documents dated 10 September, you have been granted access to
the list of the EESC delegation of members and staff who attended the 17th
meeting of the EU-China Civil Society Round Table in Shanghai, China in
July 2019. You have also be informed that the 17th meeting of the EU-China
Civil Society Round Table, held in Shanghai, China, in July 2019, was
approved by a decision of the EESC Bureau of 11 December 2018.

 

6.       After careful consideration of your confirmatory application,
EESC regrets to inform you that no further access to documents can be
granted, as the disclosure of the identified documents is prevented by the
exception to the right of public access to documents, laid down in Article
4(1)(b) of Regulation 1049/20011.

 

7.       Indeed, as referred in our initial reply, Article 4(1)(b) of
Regulation 1049/2001 provides that the EU institutions shall refuse access
to a document where disclosure would undermine the protection of privacy
and the integrity of the individual, which provision must be implemented
in accordance with the relevant EU law on the protection of personal data.

 

8.       According to Article 3(1) of Regulation 2018/1725, personal data
means any information relating to an identified or identifiable natural
person (‘data subject’); an identifiable natural person is one who can be
identified, directly or indirectly, in particular by reference to an
identifier such as a name, an identification number, location data, an
online identifier or to one or more factors specific to the physical,
physiological, genetic, mental, economic, cultural or social identity of
that natural person[3][3].

 

9.       The information that you have requested is included in the cost
statements relating to the official assignment (business trips) of the
EESC delegation of members and staff who attended the 17th meeting of the
EU-China Civil Society Round Table. It is obvious that the documents
requested contain information concerning these identified natural persons.
By its very nature, this information constitutes personal data within the
meaning of the provision quoted above.

 

10.   Public disclosure of these personal data, through the release of the
documents (i.e. the cost statements) containing them, or through
disclosure of a general description, would constitute processing
(transfer) of personal data within the meaning of Article 3(3) of
Regulation 2018/1725. Furthermore, release of these documents would allow
tracking the behaviour of the EESC delegation members, thus contrasting
with the protection of their privacy.

 

11.   Indeed, since EESC members do not all travel from the EESC
headquarters in Brussels, but each of them follows a different flight
route according to their points of departure (usually, but not
necessarily, in their home countries), the information included in travel
tickets, flight details and status, potentially allows monitoring and
tracking the behavioural patterns of individuals.

 

12.   Furthermore, in its judgment in case C-28/08 P, Bavarian
Lager[4][4], the Court of Justice ruled that, when a request is made for
access to documents containing personal data, Regulation 45/2001 (now
replaced by Regulation 2018/1725 referred to above) becomes fully
applicable.

 

13.   Article 9(1)(b) of Regulation 2018/1725 provides that personal data
shall only be transmitted to recipients established in the Union other
than Union institutions and bodies if the recipient establishes that it is
necessary to have the data transmitted for a specific purpose in the
public interest and the controller, where there is any reason to assume
that the data subject’s legitimate interests might be prejudiced,
establishes that it is proportionate to transmit the personal data for
that specific purpose after having demonstrably weighed the various
competing interests. The processing (transfer) of personal data can occur
only if the conditions set out under Article 9(1)(b) of Regulation
2018/1725 are fulfilled and if the transfer constitutes lawful processing
in accordance with the requirements of Article 5 of that Regulation.

 

14.   EESC has carefully examined the reasons you put forward in your
confirmatory application to explain why, in your view, it is necessary to
disclose the requested documents.

 

15.   In that regard, you mentioned that, your necessity is predicated on
your work as a journalist, "whose job includes accessing information on
how public funds are spent. By understanding how this money is used allows
me to assess and explain to the wider public how their taxes are used".

 

16.   However, the EU Courts have confirmed that a mere interest of
members of the public in obtaining certain personal data cannot be equated
with a necessity to obtain the said data in the meaning of Regulation
2018/1725[5][5]. The requirement for necessity requires from the applicant
to show that the transfer of personal data is the most appropriate of the
possible measures for attaining the applicant's objective and that it is
proportionate to that objective, which requires the applicant to provide
express and legitimate reasons to that effect.[6][6]

 

17.   In your application, you put forward the objective in broad and
general wording: to assess and explain to the wider public how their taxes
are used. In that regard, it must first be held that, because of its
excessively broad and general wording, this objective cannot, in itself,
establish the need for the transfer of the personal data in
question[7][7].  It should also be recalled that no automatic priority can
be conferred on the objective of transparency over the right to protection
of personal data[8][8].

 

18.   You have also not submitted any express and legitimate reasons
proving that the transfer of personal data at issue is the most
appropriate of the possible measures in order to achieve the objective you
pursue and that it is proportionate to that objective[9][9].

 

19.   Moreover, three of the persons whose travel costs you are seeking
access to are officials; they exercise supportive functions allowing the
Institutions to perform their mission. Even if the travel costs are
incurred in their professional functions, the information requested
nevertheless constitutes personal data[10][10].

 

20.   For these reasons, EESC considers that the necessity to grant access
to a breakdown of r/t flight details, individual ticket costs and seating
class assignments (first class, business or economy) for the presidents of
each of the three groups and the EESC members and staff who attended the
round table has not been established.

 

21.   In any event, the disclosure of the documents requested is not the
most appropriate means for attaining the stated objective as extensive
controls already apply.

 

22.   Nonetheless, you can find enclosed the consolidated version of the
decision of the Bureau of the European Economic and Social Committee of 26
April 2016, as amended by the Bureau decisions of 11 December 2018 and 18
June 2019, providing a detailed outline of the Committee's internal rules
and procedure on the reimbursement of travel expenses incurred by
Committee members, delegates of the Committee's consultative commissions,
their respective alternates and the Committee's experts.

 

23.   According to its Article 5 ("Amount of reimbursement"), "travel
expenses shall be reimbursed on the basis of the expenses actually
incurred, up to a maximum of: a) in the case of air travel, any
economy-class fare regardless of the price or a business-class fare,
subject to [a series of] stipulations". This general provision is subject
to further conditions which are also detailed in the text.

 

24.   In particular, according to article 7 ("Routes"), "the reimbursement
of travel expenses for journeys between the beneficiary's declared place
of residence and the meeting venue shall be calculated on the basis of the
most direct route". A beneficiary's "declared place of residence" "is
understood to be his/her usual place of residence in the European Union.
Beneficiaries shall only have one place of residence, which they are free
to choose with due regard for the legal criteria laid down by their
country of residence in the EU". Finally, the most direct route "shall be
determined by taking into account: a) for journeys by air: the airport,
either closest to the beneficiary's point of departure which can issue an
air ticket at the tariff referred to in Articles 5 and 6 and the distance
between the airport and the destination, or the most convenient airport,
taking into account, if applicable, layover airports (…)".

 

25.   In implementation of the above principles, the EESC approved the
travel costs of its delegation to the 17th meeting of the EU-China Civil
Society Round Table, held in Shanghai, China, in July 2019, amounting to
69.685,80 EUR.

 

26.   Furthermore, since two of the persons whose travel costs you are
seeking access to have given their consent to the transfer of the personal
data concerning them, as foreseen by Article 5(1)(d) of Regulation
2018/1725, the documents containing their own travel expenses are provided
herewith.

 

27.   EESC draws your attention to the possible means of redress available
against this decision. You may either bring proceedings before the Court
of Justice of the European Union or file a complaint with the European
Ombudsman under the conditions specified respectively in Articles 263 and
228 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union.

 

Yours sincerely.

 

The EESC Mail/Archives Service

 

*             *             *

 

[1] 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, OJ L 145, 31.5.2001, p. 43–48.

2 DECISION OF THE EUROPEAN ECONOMIC AND SOCIAL COMMITTEE of 1 July 2003 on
public access to European Economic and Social Committee documents, OJ L
205, 14.8.2003, p. 19–23.

3 Regulation (EU) 2018/1725 of the European Parliament and of the Council
of 23 October 2018 on the protection of natural persons with regard to the
processing of personal data by the Union institutions, bodies, offices and
agencies and on

the free movement of such data, and repealing Regulation (EC) No 45/2001
and Decision No 1247/2002/EC, OJ L 295, 21.11.2018, p. 39–98

4 Judgement of the Court of Justice of 29 June 2010, European Commission v
The Bavarian Lager Co. Ltd, C-28/08 P, EU:C:2010:378, par. 59.

5 Judgement of the Court of Justice of 2 October 2014, Strack v
Commission, C-127/13 P, EU:C:2014:2250, par. 106-108.

6Judgement of the General Court of 15 July 2015, Dennekamp v European
Parliament, T-115/13, EU:T:2015:497, par.72

7 Judgement of the General Court of 25 September 2018, Psara et al. v
European Parliament, Joined Cases T639/ 15 to T-666/15 and T-94/16,
EU:T:2018:602, par. 73-76.

8 Ibidem, par. 91.

9 Ibidem, par. 93.

10 Judgement of the Court of 16 July 2015, ClientEarth and PAN Europe v
EFSA, C-615/13 P, EU:C:2015:489, par.31.

 

____________________________________________________________________________________

 

From: Nikolaj Nielsen <[11][FOI #7276 email]>

Sent: dimanche, 27 octobre, 2019 17:51

To: Infoces <[12][EESC request email]>

Subject: Internal review of access to documents request - EU China
Roundtable

 

Dear European Economic and Social Committee,

 

Please pass this on to the person who reviews confirmatory applications.

 

I am filing the following confirmatory application with regards to my
access to documents request 'EU China Roundtable'.

 

I fail to see how  individual ticket costs purchased with public funds is
a violation of privacy, especially since you have already released the
names of the people. 

 

You have in the past released detailed information when it comes to per
diems of individual members.  I fail to see how this is somehow different.

 

I would like to remind you that the European Court of Justice also said
that documents containing personal data may be released provided necessity
is demonstrated.

 

My necessity is predicated on my work as a journalist, whose job includes
accessing information on how public funds are spent. By understanding how
this money is used allows me to assess and explain to the wider public how
their taxes are used.

 

A full history of my request and all correspondence is available on the
Internet at this address:
[13]https://www.asktheeu.org/en/request/eu_c...

 

Yours faithfully,

 

Nikolaj Nielsen

 

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Please use this email address for all replies to this request:

[14][FOI #7276 email]

 

This message and all replies from European Economic and Social Committee
will be published on the AsktheEU.org website. For more information see
our dedicated page for EU public officials at
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No sabemos si la última respuesta a esta solicitud contiene información o no – si eres Nikolaj Nielsen por favor abre una sesión y háznoslo saber.