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CJEU Case C-57/16 P / Judgment

ClientEarth v European Commission
Deciding body type
Court of Justice of the European Union
Deciding body
Court (Grand Chamber)
Decision date
ECLI (European case law identifier)
  • CJEU Case C-57/16 P / Judgment

    Key facts of the case:

    Appeal — Access to documents of the EU institutions — Regulation (EC) No 1049/2001 — Regulation (EC) No 1367/2006 — Impact assessment report, draft impact assessment report and opinion of the Impact Assessment Board — Legislative initiatives in respect of environmental matters — Refusal to grant access — Disclosure of the documents requested in the course of the proceedings — Continuing interest in bringing proceedings — Exception relating to the protection of the ongoing decision-making process of an EU institution — General presumption.

    Outcome of the case:

    On those grounds, the Court (Grand Chamber) hereby:

    1. Sets aside the judgment of the General Court of the European Union of 13 November 2015, ClientEarth v Commission (T‑424/14 and T‑425/14, EU:T:2015:848); 
    2. Annuls the decision of the European Commission of 1 April 2014 refusing to grant access to an impact assessment report for a proposed binding instrument setting a strategic framework for risk-based inspection and surveillance in relation to EU environmental legislation and an opinion of the Impact Assessment Board;
    3. Annuls the decision of the European Commission of 3 April 2014 refusing to grant access to a draft impact assessment report relating to access to justice in environmental matters at Member State level in the field of EU environmental policy and an opinion of the Impact Assessment Board;
    4. Orders the European Commission to bear its own costs and to pay those incurred by ClientEarth at first instance and on appeal;
    5. Orders the Republic of Finland and the Kingdom of Sweden to bear their own costs in relation to the appeal proceedings.
  • Paragraphs referring to EU Charter

    2) Recitals 1, 2 and 6 of Regulation (EC) No 1049/2001 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 30 May 2001 regarding public access to European Parliament, Council and Commission documents (OJ 2001 L 145, p. 43), state:

    1. The second subparagraph of Article 1 of the Treaty on European Union enshrines the concept of openness, stating that the Treaty marks a new stage in the process of creating an ever closer union among the peoples of Europe, in which decisions are taken as openly as possible and as closely as possible to the citizen.
    2. Openness enables citizens to participate more closely in the decision-making process and guarantees that the administration enjoys greater legitimacy and is more effective and more accountable to the citizen in a democratic system. Openness contributes to strengthening the principles of democracy and respect for fundamental rights as laid down in Article 6 of the EU Treaty and in the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union.


    74) That core EU objective is also reflected in Article 15(1) TFEU, which provides that the institutions, bodies, offices and agencies of the European Union are to conduct their work as openly as possible, that principle of openness also being expressed in Article 10(3) TEU and in Article 298(1) TFEU, and in the enshrining of the right of access to documents in Article 42 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union (see, to that effect, judgment of 18 July 2017, Commission v Breyer, C‑213/15 P, EU:C:2017:563, paragraph 52).

  • Paragraphs referring to EU Charter (original language)