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Parliamentary questions
23 August 2010
Answer given by Mr Šefčovič on behalf of the Commission

1. The Security Directorate establishes the rules for classifying Commission documents according to the degree of confidentiality (EU Restricted, EU Confidential, EU Secret and EU Top Secret). The Directorates-General apply the classification to their documents in accordance with the rules in force(1). When these documents are subsequently transferred to the historical archives they retain their original classification.

2. In principle, documents more than 30 years old may be consulted by anyone who applies to access them and agrees to comply with the relevant procedural rules. Before making them available, the Commission must examine documents classified in accordance with the rules, in order to declassify them (see legal basis on opening the historical archives to the public on the website: http://www.cc.cec/historical_archives/legal_en.htm).

Commission documents less than 30 years old may be accessed by any EU citizen and any natural or legal person resident or with registered offices in a Member State, subject to the principles, conditions and limits laid down in Regulation 1049/2001(2).

3. Yes, under the procedures laid down in the abovementioned regulations.

4. The Commission's Historical Archives Department provides researchers with a reading room where declassified documents more than 30 years old can be examined. In order to access classified documents less than 30 years old it is necessary to follow the general procedure for applying for access to documents indicated in the reply to question 2, using the online form (https://ec.europa.eu/transparency/regdoc/fmb/formulaire.cfm?CL=en). Applications are automatically addressed to the Commission department that holds the document, which must handle the application in accordance with the provisions of Regulation No 1049/2001. This includes declassifying the document if appropriate.

5. Until they are opened to the public/declassified in accordance with the 30-year rule, documents and archives are kept by the Historical Archives Department in the archiving repositories in Brussels and Luxembourg or in the premises of the originating department. Once they have been opened/declassified by the Historical Archives Department, the original files are kept in the European Union's Historical Archives, which are legally associated with the European University Institute in Florence, Italy.

(1)Commission decision of 29 November 2001 amending its internal Rules of Procedure [notified under document number C(2001)3031] (2001/844/EC, ECSC, Euratom) OJ L 317, 3.12.2001. http://eur-lex.europa.eu/LexUriServ/LexUriServ.do?uri=OJ:L:2001:317:0001:0055:EN:PDF

OJ C 191 E, 01/07/2011
Last updated: 7 September 2010Legal notice