In the statement of the Court of Justice of 13 July 2017 addresses the Commission's refusal to issue certain emissions trading documents to Saint-Gobain. Saint-Gobain is a company active in the global glass market. It operates installations falling within the scope of Directive 2003/87 / EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 13 October 2003 establishing a scheme for greenhouse gas emission allowance trading within the Community and amending Directive 96/61 / EC of the Council (OJ 2003 L 275, p. 32). Saint-Gobain had requested the German competent authorities, pursuant to Decree 2011/278, to provide free allocation of allowances for the third period provided for in the emissions trading scheme laid down by this Directive, from 2013 to 2020.
The Commission refused this (first in full, later in part) in relation to the protection of an ongoing decision-making process (Article 4 (3) of Regulation 1049/2001). The court in first instance left the decision of the Commission. The Court of Justice then judges this ruling and the appeal.
In the light of the foregoing, the Court recalls that Regulation No 1049/2001, in accordance with recital 1, follows the wish expressed in the second paragraph of Article 1 of the EU Treaty, as inserted by the Treaty from Amsterdam - to mark a new stage in the process of establishing an ever closer union between the peoples of Europe, in which decisions are taken in as wide a sense of openness and as close as possible to the citizen. As recalled in recital 2 of this Regulation, public access to institutional documents is intertwined with the democratic nature of the institutions (judgment of 1 July 2008, Sweden and Turco v Council, C-39/05 P and C-52/05 P, EU: C: 2008: 374, paragraph 34).
This right of access is subject to restrictions which are public or private interests. As such exceptions differ from the principle of public access to documents as widely as possible, they must be interpreted and applied restrictively. In particular, it follows from the second sentence of Article 6 (1) of Regulation No 1367/2006 that, in particular, the exception to the first sentence of Article 4 (3) of Regulation No 1049/2001, the grounds for refusal to be limited, taking into account the public interest served upon disclosure and the question of whether the requested information relates to emissions into the environment (see, to that effect, LPN and Finland v Commission, 14 November 2013, C-514 / 11P and C-605 / 11P, EU: C: 2013: 738, item 83).
The Court of First Instance, which rejected the Commission's refusal, considered in this connection that the decision-making process was an administrative procedure which aimed at a harmonized free allocation of allowances and that this administrative procedure had not yet been terminated at the date of rejection of the request . The allocation of the request created an increased risk of targeted influence, which could compromise the quality of the final decision and could affect the decision-making mine if, during the procedure, the Commission had to examine the reactions to its internal discussions and answer.
However, the Court judges otherwise. First, the Court finds that the terms 'decision-making process' and 'administrative procedure' are intertwined, which means that the scope of the derogation provided for in this provision is extended to the extent that an institution of the Union can deny access to any document. Next, the Court refers to what the Advocate General noted, namely that a request for environmental information may be refused if disclosure would adversely affect the confidentiality of the action of public authorities when such confidentiality is provided for under national law, and not an administrative procedure as a whole under which these authorities act. Repeatedly becomes the restrictive explanation and it is considered that the single reference to a risk of negative effects related to access to internal documents and the possibility for stakeholders to influence the procedure is not sufficient to demonstrate that disclosure of those documents seriously undermine the decision-making process of the institution concerned. Emphasizes that it is necessary to provide the public with real opportunities for decision-making in environmental matters so that accountability and transparency of decision-making are increased, but in no way required by this regulation - contrary to the Court of First Instance in paragraph 81 of the judgment under appeal - that the Commission is examining and responding to the public's comments in response to the disclosure of environmental information documents relating to an ongoing administrative procedure and from which her internal deliberations appear. In those circumstances, it can not be assumed that such disclosure would jeopardize compliance with the time limits of administrative procedures carried out by the Commission. The judgment of the court is destroyed and the Commission's decision is annulled. In those circumstances, it can not be assumed that such disclosure would jeopardize compliance with the time limits of administrative procedures carried out by the Commission. The judgment of the court is destroyed and the Commission's decision is annulled. In those circumstances, it can not be assumed that such disclosure would jeopardize compliance with the time limits of administrative procedures carried out by the Commission. The judgment of the court is destroyed and the Commission's decision is annulled.
Naar mijn mening moeten we deze uitspraak breder trekken dan alleen een visie op openbaarheid van milieu-informatie. Er is in Europa consensus over dat besluiten in zo groot mogelijke openheid en zo dicht mogelijk bij de burger worden genomen. Verantwoordingsplicht voor en transparantie van de besluitvorming staat voorop. Dat vergt een visie op overheidshandelen die overeenkomt met de algemene visie hierop in de Europese code van Goed Administratief gedrag: “Ambtenaren dienen bereid te zijn om hun activiteiten uit te leggen en redenen te geven voor hun optreden. Ze moeten degelijke dossiers bijhouden en publiek toezicht op hun gedrag verwelkomen, ook wat de naleving van deze beginselen voor de openbare dienst betreft” . Minder handelen vanuit vrees dus, en meer handelen vanuit participatie en respect voor een ieders gerechtvaardigde rol in een besluitvormingsproces. Dat komt het vertrouwen in de overheid, die er immers voor ons allen is, ten goede.