Monday, 29 August 2011

Commission rejects request for EASO's Greece Operating Plan

Following our post regarding the EASO Monitor's request to the EU Commission to share the Operating Plan for EASO's activities in Greece, today we received the Commission's a final rejection.

The letter, from Director General Stefano Manservisi, states the following:

"I refer to your e-mail dated 27 April 2011, registered on 28 April, requesting access to the 'Operating Plan for the deployment of EU Asylum Support Teams to Greece' under Regulation No 1049/20011 regarding public access to European Parliament, Council and Commission documents. On 19 May, I sent you a holding reply pending consultation with the Executive Director of the European Asylum Support Office (EASO).

I regret to inform you that the document requested is covered by the exceptions provided for by the policy relating to access to documents and that it cannot be made available to you.

The first exception that applies to the document you requested falls under Article 4 (4) and (5) of the Regulation 1049/2001. Indeed, both the EASO from where the document originated, and the Hellenic authorities - co-authors of the document - when consulted by the EASO, have opposed its disclosure. They base their opposition on the fact that the document you requested falls under the exceptions in Article 4(1 )(a) of EU Regulation No 1049/2001.

Furthermore, the document relates to issues where a number of decisions are in the process of being taken by the EASO. Its disclosure could seriously undermine the EASO's decision-making process therefore also the first subparagraph of Article 4(3) of the said Regulation applies."

The exceptions quoted from Regulation 1049/2001 "regarding public access to European Parliament, Council and Commission documents" are as follows:

  • Article 4(4) - for 3rd party documents, the institution shall consult the 3rd party to assess whether the document falls under the exceptions listed in Article 4(1) or (2).  The Commission's letter explained that, having consulted EASO and the Greek authorities, the conclusion is that the Operating Plan does in fact fall under one of these paragraphs...;
  • Article 4(1)(a) - access shall be refused where it "would undermine the protection of the public interested as regards public security, defence and military matters, international relations, the financial, monetary or economic policy of the Community or a MS"; and
  • Article 4(3) - access shall be refused where it could "seriously undermine the institution's decision-making process".

Do we need to specify that we are extremely disappointed?  Do we need to highlight our hopes that transparency and accountability will be key features of EASO's approach?  

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