Transparency and data protection are both essential elements of democratic life in the EU, and both contribute to good governance. The interaction between these rights - i.e. the way in which to deal with public access to documents containing personal data - may however be perceived as difficult. Providing guidelines for the EU administration, the paper describes the two rights and their legal backgrounds. It also gives a list of examples and a checklist.
When dealing with these cases, it is imperative that the responsible officials make a concrete and individual examination of the specific document. Firstly, disclosure can only be refused if the privacy of an individual is at stake. Secondly, the negative effect of disclosure of someone's personal data must be substantial and thirdly it has to be examined if data protection legislation allows disclosure.
Public access to documents containing personal data after the Bavarian Lager ruling, 24 March 2011.