About the Legal Service
Activities of the Legal Service
- The Commission’s legal adviser
- The Commission’s legal representative
- Helping to improve the quality of drafting of EU legislation
As the Legal Service is an internal service of the Commission, its documents are generally internal documents directly linked to its two main activities of providing legal advice and legal representation. Most therefore fall into one of the following categories:
- opinions of the Legal Service, drawn up to give legal advice to the Commission and its services;
- pleadings and other documents submitted in court cases.
The Legal Service also draws up certain other Commission documents, such as codification proposals or guidelines. See list of documents.
Openness and access to documents
Like all Commission documents, the Legal Service’s documents are subject to the provisions of Regulation (EC) No 1049/2001 of the European Parliament and of the Council regarding public access to European Parliament, Council and Commission documents. However, it should be noted that Article 4(2) of this Regulation states by way of exception that "[t]he institutions shall refuse access to a document where disclosure would undermine the protection of: [...] court proceedings and legal advice [...] unless there is an overriding public interest in disclosure". In interpreting that exception the Legal Service is guided by the interpretations given by the Court in its case law:
- for access to the opinions of the Legal Service see, most recently, the judgment of the Court of Justice of 21 July 2011 in Case C-506/08 P, Sweden v European Commission and MyTravel Group plc;
- for the documents drawn up by the Commission’s services solely for the purpose of specific court proceedings, see the judgment of the Court of 21 September 2010 in joined cases C-514/07 P, C-528/07 P and C-532/07 P, Association de la presse internationale ASBL (API).
The judgment of the Court of First Instance of 11 December 2001 in case T-191/99, Petrie and Others v Commission, deals specifically with access to documents drawn up in the framework of proceedings for failure to fulfil obligations under Article 258 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (ex Article 226 TEC) .
For more information on access to Commission documents see the web site Openness and access to documents.
Last updated on 16.7.2013