Public access guide
The Treaty on European Union and the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union emphasise the transparency and openness of the decision-making process in the Union for the general public.
Improving public access to European information is therefore a key factor in promoting public interest in European affairs, improving understanding of the activities of the Union and fostering informed debate on European issues.
In this respect, the following procedure for requesting access to unpublished documents apply at Eurofound.
Who can request a document?
Any European citizen and any natural or legal person residing or having its registered office in a Member State may request a document regardless of his or her personal or professional status, and without having to give reasons for the request.
What types of documents can be asked for?
Internal Eurofound documents may be requested.
A document is any content whatever its medium (written on paper or stored in electronic form as a sound, visual or audiovisual recording) concerning a matter relating to the policies, activities and decisions falling within Eurofound’s sphere of responsibility. An internal document is a document which either has not been finalised or is not intended for publication:
To whom should the request be addressed?
Requests should be addressed to the Head of Resources.
How should the request be made?
Access to documents must be requested in writing, by:
- Mail to European Foundation for the Improvement of Living and Working Conditions (Eurofound), Wyattville Road, Loughlinstown, Dublin, D18 KP65
- E-mail to Public.Access@eurofound.europa.eu
Please indicate that the request is being made in accordance with Regulation (EC) No 1049/2001.
- EUR-Lex: Regulation (EC) No 1049/2001
When making the request, you should be as precise as possible about what you want and give as much information as you can to help in identifying the document or documents requested. If necessary, Eurofound will ask for further details.
What language should the request be made in?
The request can be made in any of the official European languages.
In what language will the documents be made available?
Documents will be supplied in the format and the language version in which it is available. Documents will be supplied in other languages only when that language version is already available or can reasonably be supplied.
When will Eurofound reply?
Eurofound shall reply within fifteen working days from the date when a request is registered. You will be informed in case this period is extended should Eurofound be unable to give a final reply within that time, for example, due to the volume of documents requested.
How will I receive the document?
A copy will be sent to you in electronic or hard copy.
How much does it cost to obtain a document?
Documents will be supplied free of charge. However, for documents of more than 20 pages, there may be a charge of EUR 0.40 per sheet to cover photocopying costs.
Can I be refused access to a document, and if so, why?
Eurofound favours as wide an access as possible to its internal documents. However, there are inevitably some documents which may have to be withheld in order to protect specific public and private interests or to ensure that the Foundation’s work is not disrupted. Exceptions to the right of access are set out in Regulation (EC) No 1049/2001, as follows:
- Protection of the public interest (where documents concern legal proceedings, inspections and enquiries);
- Protection of the individual and of privacy;
- Protection of commercial and industrial secrecy;
- Protection of confidentiality if it has been requested by a supplier of information; and
- Protection of the confidentiality of Eurofound’s internal deliberations.
In practice, what kinds of documents may be withheld?
Bearing in mind that no exemption is applied automatically and that each individual request will be looked at carefully, in any case, access might still be refused if a document:
- Relates to the personnel records of Eurofound staff (recruitment, promotion or medical files);
- Contains commercially sensitive information about a company or individual supplied to Eurofound in confidence; and
- Relates to decision-making processes (e.g. minutes of internal meetings) where release of a document may be subject to a period of embargo in order to allow Eurofound ‘space to think’.
Will Eurofound give access to a document produced by others?
Yes. Documents from third parties, received and kept by Eurofound, are also accessible.
‘Third party’ means any natural or legal person, or any entity outside Eurofound including the Member States, other European or non-European institutions and bodies and third countries.
Eurofound will consult with third parties before making any document available, in particular if the third party is a Member State. In certain cases, access will be granted without consultation where a document has already been disclosed or where it does not originate from a Member State and its disclosure or partial disclosure would not affect one of the interests in Article 4 of Regulation (EC) 1049/2001.
What can I do if my request for documents is turned down?
If you wish Eurofound to review its decision not to give access to a document, you should send a written request (known as a confirmatory application) to the Executive Director of Eurofound by email (send to: Public.Access@eurofound.europa.eu) or post (see the address below) within 15 working days of your being notified.
Eurofound then has 15 working days within which to change or confirm its decision. If the refusal is confirmed you have the right to initiate court proceedings against Eurofound or lodge a complaint with the European Ombudsman.
What if a document I request does not exist?
The right of access concerns existing documents. Where a document does not exist, or where a request necessitates compiling information from a number of different documents, the request will be treated as a request for information. Information requests may take longer but you will be informed of the date by which you will receive the information.
Can I reproduce or publish the documents that I have obtained from Eurofound?
You are not entitled to reproduce or publish them for commercial purposes, without Eurofound’s prior authorisation. Disclosed documents are considered to be published and they may be reproduced or published further once they are properly accredited as sourced.
Head of Resources
European Foundation for the Improvement of Living and Working Conditions / Eurofound