Ref. Ares(2021)1370031 - 19/02/2021
DIRECTORATE-GENERAL FOR TRADE
Directorate C - Africa, Caribbean and Pacific, Asia (II), Trade and Sustainable Development, Green Deal
Multilateral Trade and Sustainable Development Policy, Green Deal, Conflict Minerals
Brussels, 1 February 2021
TRADE.C.4 RN-bd (2021)909421
By registered letter with acknowledgment
Mr. Olivier Hoedeman
Corporate Europe Observatory
Rue d'Edimbourg 26,
1050 Brussels, Belgium
Advance copy by email:
Subject: Your application for access to documents – Ref GestDem 2020/7943
I refer to your application dated 22/12/2020, in which you make a request for access to
documents under Regulation (EC) No 1049/20011 (‘Regulation 1049/2001’), registered
GestDem 2020/7943 on the same date under the above mentioned reference number.
Please accept our apologies for the delay in preparing the reply to your request, which is
mainly due to a high number of access to documents requests being processed at the
same time by DG Trade.
1. SCOPE OF YOUR REQUEST
In your request, you asked for access:
- all reports (and other notes) from meetings with representatives of companies, lobby
groups (such as BusinessEurope, Bundesverband der Deutschen Industrie, CSR
Europe and others), consultancies and think-tanks about the European Commission's
1 Regulation (EC) No 1049/2001 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 20 May 2001
regarding public access to European Parliament, Council and Commission documents (OJ L 145,
31.5.2001, p. 43).
Commission européenne/Europese Commissie, 1049 Bruxelles/Brussel, BELGIQUE/BELGIË - Tel. +32 22991111
initiative on sustainable corporate governance and issues around EU corporate due
diligence legislation more generally (since May 1st 2020).
- all correspondence (including emails and their attachments) with representatives of
companies, lobby groups , consultancies and think-tanks about the European
Commission's initiative on sustainable corporate governance and issues around EU
corporate due diligence legislation more generally (since May 1stl 2020).
- a list of all the above-mentioned documents (including dates, names of
2. ASSESSMENT AND CONCLUSIONS UNDER REGULATION 1049/2001
In accordance with settled case law2, when an institution is asked to disclose a document,
it must assess, in each individual case, whether that document falls within the exceptions
to the right of public access to documents set out in Article 4 of Regulation 1049/2001.
Such assessment is carried out in a multi-step approach:
- first, the institution must satisfy itself that the document relates to one of the
exceptions, and if so, decide which parts of it are covered by that exception;
- second, it must examine whether disclosure of the parts of the document in
question pose a "reasonably foreseeable and not purely hypothetical
" risk of
undermining the protection of the interest covered by the exception;
- third, if it takes the view that disclosure would undermine the protection of any of
the interests defined under Article 4(2) and Article 4(3) of Regulation 1049/2001,
the institution is required "to ascertain whether there is any overriding public
interest justifying disclosure
In view of the objectives pursued by Regulation 1049/2001, notably to give the public
the widest possible right of access to documents4, ’the exceptions to that right […] must
be interpreted and applied strictly’
In reply to your request, I can inform you that we have identified one documents
within the scope of your request.
Having examined the requested document under the applicable legal framework, I am
pleased to grant you full access to “Meeting report: TRADE-CSR Europe 4
December 2020” (Ref. trade.c.4(2021)920394).
In this document names and other personal data have been redacted pursuant to article
4(1)(b) of Regulation 1049/2001 and in accordance with Regulation (EC) No 2018/1725.
Hence, the main content of this document relevant to your request is accessible.
Copies of the accessible document enclosed to this letter.
2 Judgment in Sweden and Maurizio Turco v Council,
Joined cases C-39/05 P and C-52/05 P,
EU:C:2008:374, paragraph 35.
paragraphs 37-43. See also judgment in Council v Sophie in ‘t Veld,
C-350/12 P, EU:C:2014:2039,
4 See Regulation 1049/2001, recital (4).
5 Judgment in Sweden v Commission,
C-64/05 P, EU:C:2007:802, paragraph 66.
The reasons justifying the application of the exception concerning personal data are set
Protection of the privacy and integrity of the individual
Pursuant to Article 4(1)(b) of Regulation 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.6 The document
contain personal information, such as names, e-mail addresses, telephone
numbers that allow the identification of natural persons, as well as other personal
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.7 Please note in this
respect that the names, signatures, functions, telephone numbers and/or initials pertaining to
staff members of an institution are to be considered personal data.8
In its judgment in Case C-28/08 P (Bavarian Lager
)9, the Court of Justice ruled that when a
request is made for access to documents containing personal data, the Data Protection
Regulation becomes fully applicable10
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’
6 The applicable legislation is Regulation (EC) No 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
7 Judgment of the Court of Justice of the European Union of 20 December 2017 in Case C-434/16,
Novak v Data Protection Commissioner, request for a preliminary ruling, paragraphs 33-35,
8 Judgment of the General Court of 19 September 2018 in case T-39/17, Port de Brest v Commission
9 Judgment of 29 June 2010 in Case C-28/08 P, European Commission v The Bavarian Lager Co. Ltd
EU:C:2010:378, paragraph 59.
10 Whereas this judgment specifically related to Regulation (EC) No 45/2001 of the European Parliament
and of the Council of 18 December 2000 on the protection of individuals with regard to the processing
of personal data by the Community institutions and bodies and on the free movement of such data, the
principles set out therein are also applicable under the new data protection regime established by
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 European Commission 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
European Commission 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.
If applicable In your application, you do not put forward any arguments to establish the
necessity to have the data transmitted for a specific purpose in the public interest. Therefore,
the European Commission does not have to examine whether there is a reason to assume
that the data subject’s legitimate interests might be prejudiced.
Notwithstanding the above, please note that there are reasons to assume that the legitimate
interests of the data subjects concerned would be prejudiced by disclosure of the personal
data reflected in the documents, as there is a real and non-hypothetical risk that such public
disclosure would harm their privacy and subject them to unsolicited external contacts.
Consequently, I conclude that, pursuant to Article 4(1)(b) of Regulation 1049/2001, access
cannot be granted to the personal data, as the need to obtain access thereto for a purpose in
the public interest has not been substantiated and there is no reason to think that the
legitimate interests of the individuals concerned would not be prejudiced by disclosure of
the personal data concerned.
This document was drawn up for internal use under the responsibility of the relevant
officials of the Directorate-General for TRADE. It solely reflects the author's
interpretation of the interventions made and does not set out any official position of the
third parties to which the document refers, which was not consulted on its content. It does
not reflect the position of the Commission and cannot be quoted as such.
MEANS OF REDRESS
In accordance with Article 7(2) of Regulation 1049/2001, you are entitled to make a
confirmatory application requesting the Commission 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 Commission at the following address:
Transparency, Document Management & Access to Documents
Rue de la Loi 200/Wetstraat 200
or by email to: email@example.com
Electronically signed on 19/02/2021 09:37 (UTC+01) in accordance with article 11 of Commission Decision C(2020) 4482