Madrid, 9 May 2016 – On Europe Day, Access Info’s Executive Director Helen Darbishire was happy to open a DHL package from the European Commission with the response to a request submitted on 16 November 2015 for information about the database in which the travel and entertainment expenses of the European Commissioners are stored.
We asked about the database because we’ve been told it’s not possible to provide numerical data on how much each Commissioner spends on travel and entertainment without also providing personal data, which would take many days to redact. In the modern information era this seems odd.
The shiny yellow envelope contained a letter with the name of the database – named MiPS – the Mission Processing System – as well as documentation on how to enter expenses claims.
Even this information was only provided after various exchanges and clarifications about what we were asking for, and two formal appeals (“confirmatory applications”) to the Secretariat General of the European Commission.
What was not provided – even though we had asked for it – was a simple listing of the fields that the MiPS database contains. However, having the name of the database, Access Info was able to find, via a quick Google search, a document on an EU website listing the fields.
“It’s rather like Christmas,” commented Helen Darbishire, “you wait and wait for it and then you find the wrapping paper is rather more exciting than the present inside.”
In a further twist in this frustrating saga to obtain detailed expenses of the European Commissioners, the request for the name of the database was not answered as a documents request but rather as a request for information, something which does not have the same possibilities of a legal challenge before the European Court of Justice, although an appeal can be made to the European Ombudsman, something which Access Info Europe plans to do.
The letter from the Commission can be found here:
The documentation on the MiPS database is here and here
The details of the request can be found here.
A related request on the Commissioners’ expenses can be found here.
For more information, please contact:
Helen Darbishire | Access Info Europe
Send an e-mail or call +34 913 656 558