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23.9.

98 EN Official Journal of the European Communities C 295/1

I
(Information)

COURT OF AUDITORS

DECISION No 18/97

laying down internal rules for the treatment of applications for access to documents held by the
Court

(98/C 295/01)

THE EUROPEAN COURT OF AUDITORS, HAS DECIDED AS FOLLOWS:

Having regard to the declaration regarding the right of Article 1
access to information annexed to the final act of the
Treaty on European Union, which emphasises that General Principle
transparency in the decision-making process strengthens
the democratic nature of the institutions and the public's Within the framework and limits of the provisions laid
confidence in the administration, down by these internal rules and of the standards
governing the confidentiality of audits, the public shall
have access to the Court of Auditors' documents, whether
Having regard to the conclusions of the Birmingham and on paper or in electronic form.
Edinburgh European Council meetings in favour of a
Community which is closer to its citizens, Article 2

Preliminary procedures for responding to requests
Having regard to the Financial Regulation applicable to
the general budget of the European Communities, in 1. Applications for access to a document must be
particular Article 88 thereof, submitted in writing and worded in a sufficiently precise
fashion; they must contain, in particular, all the
information which is required to identify the relevant
Whereas the Court considers it advisable to adopt internal document or documents.
rules regarding the treatment of requests for access to the
documents it holds;
2. All applications received by the Court of Auditors
shall be forwarded to the Director of the External
Relations Department and Legal Service, with copies to
Having regard to the provisions of Council Regulation
the President and the Secretary-General. After consultation
(EEC, Euratom) No 354/83 of 1 February 1983 regarding
with the Member of the Court concerned, the Director of
the opening to the public of the historical archives of the
the External Relations Department and Legal Service shall
European Economic Community and the European
examine the admissibility of the application and decide
Atomic Energy Community (1),
what action shall be taken.

3. Where appropriate, the Director of the External
Whereas these internal rules form part of the framework
Relations Department and Legal Service shall ask the
of the European Communities' policy of communication
applicant to formulate the application in greater detail.
and information;
This must be done within one month of receipt of the
application.
Whereas these rules will have to be implemented with due
respect for the provisions concerning the confidential 4. Access to documents shall take the form either of
nature of certain information, inspection thereof at the Court or delivery of a copy to the
applicant at his/her expense. Inspections of documents
shall take place on the premises of the Court of Auditors
(1) OJ L 43, 15.2.1983, p. 1. in Luxembourg; the date and time shall be agreed between
C 295/2 EN Official Journal of the European Communities 23.9.98

the applicant and the Director of the External Relations 2. If the requested document was or will be published
Department and Legal Service. A standard fee of ECU 10 in the year of application, the applicant will be asked to
plus ECU 0,05 per sheet of paper shall be charged for the direct his application to the Office for Official
delivery of a copy of a paper document exceeding 30 Publications of the European Communities in
pages, plus any postage costs incurred. The fees to be Luxembourg.
charged for other media shall be decided case by case and
the applicant shall be informed in advance. 3. The Court of Auditors may refuse access to
documents on the basis of the following criteria:
5. The applicant shall be informed in writing within a
month of the date of receipt of his application, by the
(a) the protection of the public interest (e.g. public safety,
Director of the External Relations Department and Legal
international relations, monetary stability, legal
Service, of the Court's response to it. The Director of the
proceedings, inspection and inquiry activities),
External Relations Department and Legal Service shall
find, in consultation with the applicants, an equitable
solution in cases of repeat applications and/or applications (b) the protection of the individual and of his privacy (in
concerning lengthy documents. Should an application be particular, all the personal data concerning the Court
rejected, the reasons for rejection shall be stated and the of Auditors' officials and other members of staff),
applicant shall be informed of his right to appeal against
this decision within one month, failing which the (c) the protection of commercial and industrial secrets,
application shall be considered as withdrawn.
(d) the protection of the financial interests of the
6. No person to whom a document is sent may Community,
reproduce or distribute the said document unless prior
permission has been given in writing by the Court of
Auditors. (e) the protection of confidentiality at the request of the
individual or legal entity which supplied the
information or the confidentiality required by the
Article 3 legislation of the Member State which supplied the
information.
Treatment of appeals concerning applications which have
been rejected in the first instance
4. In accordance with the rules governing
confidentiality laid down in Article 88(1) of the Financial
1. All appeals addressed to the Court of Auditors shall
Regulation, the Court of Auditors shall refuse access to
be submitted to the President of the Court of Auditors
any document containing observations regarding audits.
with copies to the Secretary-General and to the Director
of the External Relations Department and Legal Service.
5. The Court of Auditors may also refuse access to
2. The President of the Court of Auditors, in ensure the protection of the secrecy of its deliberations. As
consultation with the ADAR Group and the Member of a general rule and unless the Court decides to the
the Court responsible for the subject matter concerned, contrary, it shall refuse access to all documents relating to
shall be empowered to decide on the appeals. its working methods.

3. The applicant must be notified of the decision taken
following an appeal within two months of the date of the Article 5
appeal. The reasons for rejection must be given and the
applicant must be informed of the channels of appeal that Entry into force
are open to him, i.e. appeal to the courts and appeal to
the Ombudsman should the conditions apply which are This decision was adopted by the Court of Auditors at the
provided for under Articles 173 and 138e respectively of Court's 543rd meeting on 20 February 1997. It shall take
the Treaty establishing the European Community. effect on the first day of the month following its adoption,
i.e. on 1 March 1997.
Article 4

Special cases and exceptions Luxembourg, 7 April 1997.

1. If the application concerns a document held by the
Court of Auditors but of which the Court is not the For the Court of Auditors
author, the Court of Auditors shall confirm receipt of the
application and supply the name of the person, institution Bernhard FRIEDMANN
or body to whom the application must be addressed. President