The first request
On 6 May 2014, Access Info requested “documents which provide detail on the amounts paid in salaries, travel costs and travel expenses, [and] other expenses to each of the EU Commissioners and to Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso for the years 2012 and 2013.”
The Commission’s first answer contained the global figures for travel and representation costs of the entire Commission for 2012 and 2013. We challenged this in a confirmatory application (appeal), and on 19 August 2014 the Commission eventually disclosed the travel and representation costs per year per Commissioner.
Having learnt from the previous request, on 19 October 2015 Access Info requested “The mission and representation costs (expenses) of the Commissioners in the current (Juncker) Commission from 1 November 2014 to 30 July 2015” specifying that the information be broken down per Commissioner per mission.
The first answer of the Commission provided the global figures of mission and representation costs per Commissioner per year, but not broken down per mission.
Following a confirmatory application (appeal), lengthy correspondence and a proposal for a fair solution which reduced the time period of the request to just a two-week window, the Commission finally disclosed the ‘Settlement of Mission Expenses’ on 14 July 2016, but redacting the names of the Commissioner, the date, and location of the mission – rending the disclosed amounts completely meaningless.
A later request on guidance manuals and the structure of the Commission’s expenses was submitted too: https://www.asktheeu.org/en/request/database_containing_commissioner
Finally, to get around the fact the names of Commissioners appeared to be redacted in previous requests, Access Info members and friends made requests for individual Commissioners for a two-month period in 2015. In doing so, we got access to the information of how much each Commissioner spent on official travel per mission:
» Commission First Vice-president Frans Timmermans: https://www.asktheeu.org/en/request/travel_expenses_for_first_vice_p
» Commissioner Günther H. Oettinger: https://www.asktheeu.org/en/request/travel_expenses_for_commissioner_2
» Commissioner Miguel Arias Cañete: https://www.asktheeu.org/en/request/travel_expenses_for_commissioner
» Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker: https://www.asktheeu.org/en/request/travel_expenses_of_president_of
» Commissioner Christos Stylianides: https://www.asktheeu.org/en/request/travel_expenses_for_commissioner_3
Having established that it was possible to access the Commissioner’s travel expenses per mission, with their names, dates and locations also disclosed, Access Info wanted to engage the public.
We launched our crowd-sourced Commissioner Travel Expenses Campaign on Thursday 26 January 2016. Via the click of a button, citizens are able to send 168 requests for the spending of all 28 Commissioners for two month periods in 2016.
You can check out the results, and maybe make a request or two, here: https://www.access-info.org/commissioners-expenses