CJEU Case C-588/21 P / Judgment

Public.Resource.Org, Inc. and Right to Know CLG v European Commission
Policy area
Justice, freedom and security
Deciding body type
Court of Justice of the European Union
Decision date
ECLI (European case law identifier)
  • CJEU Case C-588/21 P / Judgment

    Key facts of the case:

    Appeal – Access to documents of the institutions of the European Union – Regulation (EC) No 1049/2001 – Article 4(2) – Exceptions – Refusal to grant access to a document whose disclosure would undermine the protection of commercial interests of a natural or legal person, including intellectual property – Overriding public interest in disclosure – Harmonised standards adopted by the European Committee for Standardisation (CEN) – Protection deriving from copyright – Principle of the rule of law – Principle of transparency – Principle of openness – Principle of good governance.

    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 14 July 2021, Public.Resource.Org and Right to Know v Commission (T‑185/19, EU:T:2021:445);

    2. Annuls Commission Decision C(2019) 639 final of 22 January 2019;

    3. Orders the European Commission to pay the costs relating to both the proceedings before the General Court of the European Union and the appeal proceedings;

    4. Orders the European Committee for Standardisation (CEN), the Asociación Española de Normalización (UNE), the Asociația de Standardizare din România (ASRO), the Association française de normalisation (AFNOR), Austrian Standards International (ASI), the British Standards Institution (BSI), the Bureau de normalisation/Bureau voor Normalisatie (NBN), Dansk Standard (DS), the Deutsches Institut für Normung eV (DIN), the Koninklijk Nederlands Normalisatie Instituut (NEN), the Schweizerische Normen-Vereinigung (SNV), Standard Norge (SN), the Suomen Standardisoimisliitto ry (SFS), the Svenska institutet för standarder (SIS) and the Institut za standardizaciju Srbije (ISS) to bear their own costs both in connection with the proceedings at first instance and the appeal proceedings.

  • Paragraphs referring to EU Charter

    66 As a preliminary point, it should be recalled that the right of access to documents of the institutions, bodies, offices and agencies of the Union, whatever their medium, is guaranteed to any citizen of the Union, and to any natural or legal person residing or having its registered office in a Member State, by Article 15(3) TFEU and by Article 42 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union (‘the Charter’). The exercise of that right is, as regards access to Parliament, Council and Commission documents, governed by Regulation No 1049/2001, the purpose of which, according to Article 1 thereof, is, inter alia, to ‘define the principles, conditions and limits’ of that right, ‘in such a way as to ensure the widest possible access to documents’ and to ‘establish rules ensuring the easiest possible exercise of [that] right’.


    83 In the third place, it must be recalled that the principle of transparency is inextricably linked to the principle of openness, which is enshrined in the second paragraph of Article 1 and Article 10(3) TEU, in Article 15(1) and Article 298(1) TFEU and in Article 42 of the Charter. It makes it possible, inter alia, to ensure that the administration enjoys greater legitimacy and is more effective and more accountable to the citizen in a democratic system (see, to that effect, judgment of 22 February 2022, Stichting Rookpreventie Jeugd and Others, C‑160/20, EU:C:2022:101, paragraph 35 and the case-law cited).

    84 To that end, a right of access to documents is ensured under the first subparagraph of Article 15(3) TFEU and enshrined in Article 42 of the Charter, a right which has been implemented, inter alia, by Regulation No 1049/2001, Article 2(3) of which provides that it applies to all documents held by the Parliament, the Council or the Commission (see, to that effect, judgment of 22 February 2022, Stichting Rookpreventie Jeugd and Others, C‑160/20, EU:C:2022:101, paragraph 36).