Madrid, 10 March 2017 – Access Info Europe today condemned the European Commission’s refusal to process 189 requests for data on EU Commissioner’s travel expenses submitted by 120 people in January 2017.
In a formal complaint sent today, Access Info alleges a serious violation of the access to documents rights of these 120 individuals by lumping all 189 requests together and then claiming that the time needed to answer would be unreasonable for one request – a total of 75.5 working days according to the Commission.
The complaint rejects the “fair solution” offered by the Secretariat General of the Commission, in an email Access Info’s Director Helen Darbishire, to provide just a two-month slice of the 2016 travel expenses of some Commissioners.
“It is unprecedented for the Commission to attempt to deny the reality that 120 European citizens and residents exercised their right of access to EU documents,” stated Helen Darbishire, Executive Director of Access Info Europe.
In a further, unusual, twist, the Commission’s mail states that it will not even consider providing data for President Juncker, First Vice President Timmermans and Commissioners Cañete, Stylianides, and Oettinger. The argument here is that it had previously provided some travel expenses data for these Commissioners (although in fact these were 2015 expenses, not 2016 as per the scope of the requests sent in January).
“Not only is it shocking to have to defend the rule of law within European Union institutions, but this arbitrary refusal to even process requests for the travel expenses of specific Commissioners is particularly problematic, if not suspicious,” added Darbishire.
Access Info’s complaint alleges a series of violations of the rights of all the requesters of the EU’s access to documents rules (known as Regulation 1049/2001), and of the Code of Good Administrative Practice. The complaint also questions the time it would take to respond to the requests, and has said that it will communicate with the requesters as to their rights to appeal.
Access Info further raised the concern that it’s rights to freedom of expression and association have been undermined by the Commissions’ implication that this request campaign is illegitimate.
The communication of a “fair solution” from the Commission, as well as Access Info Europe’s reply containing the formal complaint can be found here:
For more information, please contact:
Luisa Izuzquiza, Communications Officer | Access Info Europe
Andreas Pavlou, RTI Campaigner and Researcher | Access Info Europe
Send an e-mail or call +34 913 656 558