EU Court Denies Access to ECB Information on Greece

10 December 2012

The General Court of the European Union has denied a news organization access to documents of the European Central Bank concerning the financial situation in Greece.

The ruling states that the ECB may refuse access to a document where its disclosure would undermine the protection of the public interest. (See Nov. 29 press release.)

 Gabi Thesing, a journalist who works for Bloomberg Finance LP, on Aug. 210, 2010, requested two documents, one entitled “The impact on government deficit and debt from off-market swaps. The Greek case” and the other “The Titlos transaction and possible existence of similar transactions impacting on the euro area government debt or deficit levels.”

 The court rejected the argument that there is a compelling public interest for disclosure of the documents. “The Court rejects that argument and takes the view that, where disclosure of a document undermines the public interest, the ECB is obliged to refuse access, and no weighing up of that public interest against an ‘overriding public interest’ is provided for by EU law,” summarizes the court’s press release.

Examining whether there is a risk that the public interest will be undermined so far as concerns the economic policy of the EU and Greece, the court supported ECB arguments that disclosure would undermine public confidence as regards the effective conduct of economic policy in the EU and Greece.

report on the case in Wobbing Europe that quotes Bloomberg editors as saying: “The ruling makes a mockery of ECB President Mario Draghi’s statement in October that his banks is `very transparent.’ ”  In a news analysis, the Bloomberg says the U.S. Federal Reserve is more transparent.

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