documents prepared by or submitted to the Council regarding the Article 7(1) TEU hearing on the rule of law in Poland

La demande est réussie.

Dear Council of the EU,

On 26 June 2018, the Council held a hearing under Article 7(1) TEU on the rule of law in Poland.

Disappointingly, the conclusions of the meeting (no. 10519/18) only offer a single sentence account of the hearing: “The hearing offered a possibility for ministers to have an in-depth exchange with Poland on the concerns identified in the Commission's reasoned proposal.”

This cursory account is hard to reconcile with the most elementary understanding of the principles of openness and transparency on an issue which threatens not merely the rights of Polish citizens and businesses but also threatens the very existence of the EU as a community of shared values (Article 2 TEU) as well as the very functioning of its legal order and internal market (see Commission reasoned proposal in accordance with Article 7(1) TEU, COM (2017) 835 final, para. 180).

I am writing therefore to require a copy of the following documents under Regulation no 1049/2001 read in light of relevant provisions of EU primary law such as Article 42 of the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights and Article 15 TFEU:

1/ Any document submitted to the Council by the Commission regarding the hearing held under Article 7(1) TEU on the rule of law in Poland;

2/ Any document produced by the Council/COREPER regarding the hearing held under Article 7(1) TEU on the rule of law in Poland;

3/ The agenda of the hearing and any list of topics which may have been circulated before or at the hearing held under Article 7(1) TEU on the rule of law in Poland;

4/ The minutes of the hearing held under Article 7(1) TEU on the rule of law in Poland and any summary of the said hearing which may have been produced;

5/ The questions submitted by the minister of every single member state present at the hearing held under Article 7(1) TEU on the rule of law in Poland;

6/ The answers to these questions provided either orally or in writing by the representative(s) of the Polish government.

I thank you for your cooperation.

Yours faithfully,

Laurent Pech

Postmaster Consilium, Conseil de l'Union européenne

Your message has been received by the Transparency and Access to Documents Unit of the General Secretariat of the Council of the European Union. All requests for access to documents are treated on the basis of Regulation (EC) No 1049/2001 of 30 May 2001 regarding public access to
European Parliament, Council and Commission documents. The General Secretariat will reply to your request within 15 working days upon registration of your request. Requests received before 5 PM on a working day are registered on the same day. Requests received after 5 PM are registered on the first following working day.

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SECRETARIAT DGF Access, Conseil de l'Union européenne

2 Attachments

Please find attached a letter from the General Secretariat of the Council
concerning your request for access to documents.

 

Yours sincerely,

 

 

 

Transparency

 

 

General Secretariat of the Council

Directorate-General Communication and Information - COMM
Directorate Information and Outreach
Information Services Unit / Transparency

Rue de la Loi/Wetstraat, 175 - B-1048 Bruxelles/Brussel - Belgique/België

[1]www.consilium.europa.eu  |  [2][email address]

 

Disclaimer: The views expressed are solely those of the writer and may not
be regarded as stating an official position of the Council of the EU

Clause de non-responsabilité: Les avis exprimés n'engagent que leur auteur
et ne peuvent être considérés comme une position officielle du Conseil de
l'UE

 

References

Visible links
1. http://www.consilium.europa.eu/
2. mailto:[email address]

SECRETARIAT DGF Access, Conseil de l'Union européenne

5 Attachments

Please find attached a letter from the General Secretariat of the Council
concerning your request for access to documents.

 

Yours sincerely,

 

 

 

Transparency

 

 

General Secretariat of the Council

Directorate-General Communication and Information - COMM
Directorate Information and Outreach
Information Services Unit / Transparency

Rue de la Loi/Wetstraat, 175 - B-1048 Bruxelles/Brussel - Belgique/België

[1]www.consilium.europa.eu  |  [2][email address]

 

Disclaimer: The views expressed are solely those of the writer and may not
be regarded as stating an official position of the Council of the EU

Clause de non-responsabilité: Les avis exprimés n'engagent que leur auteur
et ne peuvent être considérés comme une position officielle du Conseil de
l'UE

 

References

Visible links
1. http://www.consilium.europa.eu/
2. mailto:[email address]

Ref. 18/1296-ld/ns
Request made on: 20.06.2018
Deadline extension: 11.07.2018
Reply received on: 01.08.2018

Dear Council of the EU,

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 'documents prepared by or submitted to the Council regarding the Article 7(1) TEU hearing on the rule of law in Poland'.

In accordance with Article 7(2) of Regulation 1049/2001, I am writing to ask you to first please review your position regarding the following two points:

1/ The non-disclosure of document 9997/18 (Note of 15 June 2018 from the Presidency to delegations on the " Rule of Law in Poland / Article 7(1) TEU Reasoned Proposal - Hearing of Poland on 26 June 2018”) which you refer to in your reply without neither explaining nor justifying in any way why I am not given access to this document;

2/ The non-disclosure by the Polish authorities of their annotated version of document 9997/18. A mere laconic reference to Article 4(4) and (5) of Regulation 1049/2001 does not constitute a lawful justification in the absence of any reasoning to support the Polish decision not to disclose the annotated version of the Note of 15 June 2018 from the Presidency to delegations. According to well established case law, exceptions derogating from the principle of the widest possible public access to documents must be interpreted and applied narrowly. In addition, Article 4(4) cannot be applicable in the present instance as a Member State cannot be considered a “third party”. With respect to Article 5(5), I must stress that the said document cannot be considered to be one originating from a Member State but rather a document originating from the President which the Polish government decided to subsequently annotate before sharing it with the Council and delegations. Furthermore, it is for the Council and not the Polish authorities to decide whether to disclose a document which it holds and which originated from it. Poland’s prior agreement is therefore not required.

Last but not least, I should also draw your attention that this document could well be the same one as the document already published by a Polish media organisation: https://oko.press/obrona-przez-atak-kto-... and also made available by a Polish lawyer following a successful freedom of information request made under Polish law: https://onedrive.live.com/?authkey=%21AM.... The unsigned and undated document is 9-page long is entitled “non-paper concerning European Commission contribution prepared for the hearing of Poland in the Council”.

It would seem unjustified not to say irrational to deny me access to a document held by the Council which may have already been disclosed by the Polish government (provided that this is indeed the same document which I cannot be certain of in the absence of any further details on the date or reference of the said document).

Points left unaddressed in your reply

I am also writing to ask you to review your lack of answer regarding the specific points which I raised in my initial request submitted to you on 27 June 2018 on the basis of Regulation no 1049/2001 read in light of relevant provisions of EU primary law such as Article 42 of the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights and Article 15 TFEU:

1/ Any document submitted to the Council by the Commission regarding the hearing held under Article 7(1) TEU on the rule of law in Poland

Your reply does not mention the existence of a document numbered 10351/18 (Rule of Law in Poland / Article 7 (1) TEU Reasoned proposal - European Commission contribution for the hearing of Poland on 26 June 2018) and whose disclosure ought to have been considered. I must therefore reiterate my request to be given access to this document promptly and I would also ask you to please make clear whether any additional documents from the Commission may have been received by the Council regarding the hearing held under Article 7(1) TEU on the rule of law in Poland. Should additional documents exist, I would ask you (as previously requested) to please share them with me.

2/ Any document produced by the Council/COREPER regarding the hearing held under Article 7(1) TEU on the rule of law in Poland

Your reply does not mention the existence of a document numbered 10354/18 from COREPER and whose disclosure ought to have been considered. I must therefore ask you to please review your initial position and give me access to this document promptly. I would also appreciate if you could make clear whether any additional documents from the Council/COREPET may have been produced regarding the hearing held under Article 7(1) TEU on the rule of law in Poland. Should additional document(s) exist, I would ask you (as previously requested) to make them accessible to me.

3/ The agenda of the hearing and any list of topics which may have been circulated before or at the hearing held under Article 7(1) TEU on the rule of law in Poland

Could you please confirm (as previously requested) whether any agenda/list of discussion topics has been produced and if so I would ask you to please disclose any relevant document to me.

4/ The minutes of the hearing held under Article 7(1) TEU on the rule of law in Poland and any summary of the said hearing which may have been produced

Could you please confirm (as previously requested) whether minutes of the meeting exist and if so I would ask you to please disclose them to me.

I would like to draw your attention to the publication of an overview by Politico.eu on the 10th of July 2018 of the internal notes of a GAC meeting held on 4th of July 2018 which includes a detailed discussion of the Article 7(1) hearing: https://www.politico.eu/newsletter/bruss.... Your reply fails to mention the existence of these notes which one may however reasonably construe as the equivalent of the minutes I previously requested from the Council.

5/ The questions submitted by the minister of every single member state present at the hearing held under Article 7(1) TEU on the rule of law in Poland;

Could you please address the issue above (as previously requested) and provide me with a list of the questions submitted by the relevant national representative to the representatives of the Polish government.

6/ The answers to these questions provided either orally or in writing by the representative(s) of the Polish government.

Could you please address the issue above (as previously requested) and disclose any answers provided orally or in writing by the representatives of the Polish government. It was for instance disappointing to see your reply failing to mention the 50-slide PowerPoint presentation given by representatives of the Polish government on the day of the Article 7(1) hearing entitled “Rule of Law in Poland – Institutional and Legal Guarantees” which has since been disclosed to a Polish lawyer following a successful request for access to documents made under Polish Law: https://onedrive.live.com/?authkey=%21AM...

I look forward to your reply to my confirmatory application.

Yours faithfully,

Laurent Pech

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

SECRETARIAT DGF Access, Conseil de l'Union européenne

1 Attachment

Dear Mr Perch,

 

Please  note that this is not a formal reaction to your request for review
of your request 18/1296.

 

Nevertheless  I would like to draw your attention to some inconsistencies
in your confirmatory application before transforming it into an official
Council note for circulation with delegations, CRP and Council.

 

Your request for review seems to ignore that you have entered TWO separate
requests for access to documents  i.e. 18/1296 on 20 June 2018 and another
one 18/1355 made on 27 June 2018.

 

In the first request 18/1296 you only asked for access to:

 

" I am writing to request access to any document transmitted to the
Council by the Polish government in relation the ongoing Article 7(1) TEU
procedure activated by the European Commission last December:
[1]http://europa.eu/rapid/press-release_IP-...

It was for instance revealed that the Polish government circulated a
"non-paper" on 8 June 2018
([2]https://archiwumosiatynskiego.pl/images/...)
and yet I see no sign of it on the Council's website or document database.

 

In our reply of 1 August 2018 to your first request, we gave access to the
non-paper on the hearing in  accordance with Article 7 TEU which was
transmitted to the Council by the Polish Government and identified as
further document (not a "non-paper") the annotated version of document
9997/18 to which after consultation the Polish authorities refused access.

 

Since these are the two only documents the Council received from the
Polish Government, our reply as regards your request 18/1296 for which you
entered this confirmatory application was complete.

 

The rest of your request for review concerns your second more exhaustive
request for access to documents related to the "Polish hearing" for which
we sent you a separate reply on 8 August 2018.

 

Therefore we believe the following comments are de facto NOT justified:

 

The non-disclosure of document 9997/18 (Note of 15 June 2018 from the
Presidency to delegations on the " Rule of Law in Poland / Article 7(1)
TEU Reasoned Proposal - Hearing of Poland on 26 June 2018”) which you
refer to in your reply without neither explaining nor justifying in any
way why I am not given access to this document;

 

You have been given access to this document

 

Any document submitted to the Council by the Commission regarding the
hearing held under Article 7(1) TEU on the rule of law in Poland

 

You have been given access to document 10351/18 which is the European
Commission's contribution for the hearing of Poland on 26 June 2018

 

Your reply does not mention the existence of a document numbered 10354/18
from COREPER and whose disclosure ought to have been considered. I must
therefore ask you to please review your initial position and give me
access to this document promptly. I would also appreciate if you could
make clear whether any additional documents from the Council/COREPET may
have been produced regarding the hearing held under Article 7(1) TEU on
the rule of law in Poland. Should additional document(s) exist, I would
ask you (as previously requested) to make them accessible to me.

 

You have been given large partial access to this document

 

The agenda of the hearing and any list of topics which may have been
circulated before or at the hearing held under Article 7(1) TEU on the
rule of law in Poland

Could you please confirm (as previously requested) whether any agenda/list
of discussion topics has been produced and if so I would ask you to please
disclose any relevant document to me.

 

You have been given access to the list of topics which is in the Annex to
document  10354/18

 

The minutes of the hearing held under Article 7(1) TEU on the rule of law
in Poland and any summary of the said hearing which may have been produced

 

We informed you that the minutes of the hearing which, as stipulated in
the adopted modalities of the hearing, will reflect the procedural
conclusions without being a transcript of the hearing, have not been
issued yet.

 

The questions submitted by the minister of every single member state
present at the hearing held under Article 7(1) TEU on the rule of law in
Poland;

The answers to these questions provided either orally or in writing by the
representative(s) of the Polish government.

 

See above on Minutes and see our reply of 8 August 2018 stating that
"Together with the reply given for your request 18/1296 on 1 August 2018,
all documents held by the General Secretariat of the Council related to
your requests, have been identified and assessed" which means that the
Council does not held any other documents than those identified in our two
replies.

 

In the light of the above, you may want to consider amending your
confirmatory application and we will wait until 13 August cob before
submitting your current request to delegations.

 

Kind regards,

 

 

Transparency

 

[3]cid:image001.jpg@01CFD3F6.0B583760

 

Council of the European Union

General Secretariat

Directorate-General Communication and Information - COMM

Directorate Information and Outreach

Information Services Unit

 

Rue de la Loi/Wetstraat, 175 - B-1048 Bruxelles/Brussel - Belgique/België

[4]www.consilium.europa.eu  |  [5][email address]

 

Disclaimer: The views expressed are solely those of the writer and may not
be regarded as stating an official position of the Council of the EU

Clause de non-responsabilité: Les avis exprimés n'engagent que leur auteur
et ne peuvent être considérés comme une position officielle du Conseil de
l'UE

 

 

 

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Afficher les sections citées

Dear SECRETARIAT DGF Access,

Thank you very much for your helpful reply dated 9 August 2018.

Please disregard my confirmatory application submitted on 8 August 2018.

I thank you for your time and assistance.

Yours sincerely,

Laurent Pech

Postmaster Consilium, Conseil de l'Union européenne

Your message has been received by the Transparency and Access to Documents Unit of the General Secretariat of the Council of the European Union. All requests for access to documents are treated on the basis of Regulation (EC) No 1049/2001 of 30 May 2001 regarding public access to
European Parliament, Council and Commission documents. The General Secretariat will reply to your request within 15 working days upon registration of your request. Requests received before 5 PM on a working day are registered on the same day. Requests received after 5 PM are registered on the first following working day.

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Postmaster Consilium, Conseil de l'Union européenne

Your message has been received by the Transparency and Access to Documents Unit of the General Secretariat of the Council of the European Union. All requests for access to documents are treated on the basis of Regulation (EC) No 1049/2001 of 30 May 2001 regarding public access to
European Parliament, Council and Commission documents. The General Secretariat will reply to your request within 15 working days upon registration of your request. Requests received before 5 PM on a working day are registered on the same day. Requests received after 5 PM are registered on the first following working day.

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