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Case Law C-135/11 P (21/06/2012)

Type: Judgment

Authority: European Authorities: Euopean Union' Court of Justice

Date: 06/21/2012

Subject: The Court declared that where a Member State has made use of the option given to it by Article 4(5) of Regulation No 1049/2001 to request that a specific document originating from that State should not be disclosed without its prior agreement, disclosure of that document by the institution requires the prior agreement of that Member State to be obtained. Conversely, an institution which does not have the agreement of the Member State concerned is not entitled to disclose the document. In the present case, the Commission’s decision on the request for access to the German Chancellor’s letter thus depended on the decision taken by the German authorities as part of the process of adoption of the contested decision. However, Article 4(5) of Regulation No 1049/2001 does not confer on the Member State concerned a general and unconditional right of veto, so that it can oppose, in an entirely discretionary manner and without having to give reasons for its decision, the disclosure of any document held by an institution simply because it originates from that Member State. The institution to which the request is made, as the maker of a decision to refuse access to documents, is therefore responsible for the lawfulness of the decision. The Court has thus held that the institution cannot accept a Member State’s objection to disclosure of a document originating from that State if the objection gives no reasons at all or if the reasons relied on by that State for refusing access to the document in question do not refer to the exceptions listed in Article 4(1) to (3) of Regulation No 1049/2001.

Classification: Citizens’ rights - Art. 42 Right to access documents of EU institutions

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