The EU’s high court ruled Thursday the European Commission cannot withhold information from investigations of unfair trade charges years after they were closed.
The European Court of Justice’s ruling regarding the European Union’s executive commission was a victory for Bavarian Lager Co. Ltd., an importer of German beer in Britain.The court ordered the commission to give Bavarian Lager the names of officials of the EU, British government and European brewers federation who had attended a 1996 meeting about laws forcing British pubs to sell only beers from designated breweries.Bavarian Lager had complained those laws hurt its business, but the European Commission rejected its request to attend the meeting.The EU investigation of Britain’s beer marketing practices was canceled in 1997, when Britain amended its legislation.But when Bavarian Lager asked who was at the 1996 meeting, the commission withheld their names, saying in 2004 that two had objected to being identified and three others could not be found.The EU high court agreed with Bavarian Lager that naming participants in unfair trade investigations does not necessarily compromise their privacy and that withholding details about the aim of such investigations, years after they were closed, is unreasonable. Copyright 2007 Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.