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General Court confirms rejection of access to the confidential version of a decision of the Commission

On 13 September 2006, the European Commission (“Commission”) imposed fines in the amount of EUR 267 million to companies for their antitrust infringements regarding road bitumen in the Netherlands.

On 7 March 2008 the Netherlands applied access to the confidential version of this decision, aiming the retrieval of relevant information to be used at national courts to file compensation claims. However, the Commission rejected the application.

The Commission argued that the requested information would fall into the scope of the exceptions to the right of access to documents in view of the protection of commercial interests, inspection, investigation and audits according to Regulation No. 1049/2001 regarding public access to European Parliament, Council and Commission documents. According to Article 4 para. 2 of this regulation, these exceptions shall not apply only when there is an overriding public interest in disclosure. However, the interest of compensation claims is private and therefore not public. Hence, based on this regulation, access to the requested information was not approved.

This rejection to access to the confidential version of the Commission’s decision was confirmed on the basis of the same argument by the General Court on 13 September 2013 in case T-380/08.

Authors:

Dr. Christina Hummer
Ori Kahn