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How Do You Make Embarrassing EU Documents ‘Disappear’?


The question has bugged EU officials for years but under Commission president Ursula von der Leyen’s administration, it finally appears to have been answered and … (spoiler alert!) … the trick relies on sleight of hand.


To evade their freedom of information obligations European Union (EU) officials have disingenuously been defining documents as “short-lived correspondence for a preliminary exchange of views,” thus exempting them from being logged in official inventories. Using this approach, bureaucrats can avoid looking for, identifying, or assessing any documents requested – despite having a legal obligation to provide them.

Far from being a one-off, however, the EU has long engaged in such secrecy. The Galvin Report, named after Robert Galvin, the EU’s internal audit official who authored it, was written at the end of 2006 as an audit of the expenses and allowances claimed by a sample of more than 160 EU lawmakers. Revealing shocking abuses, the report’s existence was deliberately covered up until February 2008 when news of it was leaked by Chris Davies, an EU lawmaker from the UK. Even then, its contents remained secret and only a select group of lawmakers were allowed to read it in a locked and guarded room. Had it not been published by WikiLeaks in 2009, the report would likely still be secret today.

Worse still, a leaked European Commission internal memo from 2009 actively encourages officials to conceal information from public scrutiny. The memo, issued by the Commission’s trade department, tells officials they can evade European freedom of information laws by making two sets of documents, a neutral one for public release and a classified version for internal use only.

To learn about the dark history of the EU that it doesn’t want you to know about, read our explosive book, ‘The Nazi Roots of the Brussels EU.’