The European Ombudsman has published its decision in relation to a complaint brought by a member of the European Parliament whose request to the European Commission to give him public access to various documents relating to its assessment of the AML/CFT risks in 54 third countries for the purpose of publishing its list of third countries whose frameworks are deficient.
The Commission based its refusal on exceptions aimed at protecting international relations, public security and the financial, monetary or economic policy of the EU or a Member State. It said the information had not been shared with the relevant third countries and therefore publishing the documents could have a negative impact on their right to be heard and on diplomatic relations. Moreover, it could both undermine the trust of the organisations that had shared information and could be exploited by criminals, as well as undermining the Commission’s own decision making process. It particularly noted that its first list had been rejected, so it had to reassess the information.
The Ombusdman supported the Commission, noting that the fact the complainant had had some access to some information in his capacity as MEP was very different to the tests for making information publicly available. The Ombudsman agreed that the documents should be kept private in their entirety.