According to Regulation 1049/2001, which creates the EU’s public access to documents regime, all EU documents should hypothetically be publicly accessible, except for those that fall within explicitly protected interests. A number of these exceptions to disclosure, however, function such that documents covered by them do not have to be disclosed if their release would harm a protected interest unless there is an “overriding public interest in disclosure” exists in the circumstances. The purpose of this Article is to offer a critical examination of this concept of the overriding public interest as interpreted by the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU). In the first part, the notion of the public interest generally is discussed from a theoretical perspective. Following this, a thorough analysis of case law concerning the overriding public interest is presented. Finally, this Article presents a critical commentary of the CJEU’s understanding of the concept. This Article essentially seeks to argue, inter alia, that the CJEU’s interpretation has resulted in democratically unaccountable bureaucrats of the EU effectively becoming the sole arbiters of the existence and content of the overriding public interest in disclosure under Regulation 1049/2001, a situation that is fundamentally unsatisfactory.
- 513 Oikeustiede