Sometimes I get confused. As you know from previous blog posts, I have requested the “Results of [a] weekly meeting of Chefs de cabinet” of the European Commission, the penultimate before the summer break.* But there may be more to this matter than just a case of a freedom of information request:
Until the summer break, these results of Chefs de cabinet meetings were documented in standard Commission Secretariat documents in the form “SEC(year)doc_number”. You can see this for example on page 4 of the last meeting agenda (PDF) of the Commission before the summer break.
Usually, documents of this style (“SEC”) can be searched in the Commission’s public register of documents, so if you search “SEC(2011) 1969″ mentioned in the meeting protocol linked above, you’ll get the name of the document and a button where you can request it.
After the summer break, that is after my request and my appeal, the documents containing the “Results of weekly meetings of Chef de cabinets” are now referred to as “RCC(year)doc_number” (see meeting agenda (PDF) of first Commission meeting after the summer break), changing a years-long practice.
Now I don’t know whether the fact that I requested such a document (and appealed the refusal to grant access) and the change in denomination are linked. Yet, the problem with this change is that you can’t search for RCC documents in the public register of documents of the Commission. Hence, unless you consult the meeting agenda(s) of the Commission, you won’t know that these documents exist.
I think this is a dubious move by the Commission, in particular non that is in favour of more transparency. I’m still waiting to know whether I can get the document requested and, if yes, how much of the document I will be allowed to see. With this RCC-move, I now feel like I witness a double intransparency, one that concerns me and my research and one that concerns the general public.
But maybe there is a good explanation why after years of having Chefs de cabinet records in SEC documents they are now in RCC documents and why these are not searchable in the public register…
* I haven’t got it yet even though the legal time period has passed, but I was informed a decision may be expected by the end of October.