On November 8, 2007, the Court of First Instance (CFI) ruled in Case T-194/04 (Bavarian Lager v. Commission) that disclosing the names of individuals attending a European Commission meeting is vital to preserve transparency and the rule of law. The right of access to EU documents overrides privacy rights under data protection laws in the European Union. The CFI added that objection by individuals against disclosure of their names should not hinder the right of access. Consequently, the CFI overruled the Commission decision refusing to disclose lobbyists’ names. The Court based its reasoning on Article 255 EC according to which any EU citizen and any natural or legal person residing in a Member State has a right of access to documents of the Community institutions. This right of access is subject to restrictions under Regulation No. 1049/2001/EC, which provides that “certain public and private interests should be protected by way of exceptions where necessary to safeguard their ability to carry out their tasks. In assessing the exceptions, the institutions should take account of the principles under Community legislation concerning the protection of personal data, in all areas of Union activities. The right to public access to documents under Regulation No. 1049/2001 is generally unrestricted and therefore the person making the request is not normally obliged to state reasons justifying it.”

The judgment is available at: http://curia.europa.eu/jurisp/cgi-bin/formpl?lang=en&Submit=Rechercher&alldocs=alldocs&docj=docj&docop=docop&docor=docor&docjo=docjo&numaff=T-194/04&datefs=&datefe=&nomusuel=&domaine=&mots=&resmax=100