Right of natural or legal persons who are parties to a Commission investigation to see the Commission’s file, whenever the Commission proposes to adopt a decision which would be unfavourable to those parties. Access is given during the course of the administrative procedure to all the documents in the case concerned, with the exception of internal Commission documents, business secrets of other companies and other confidential information. Access to the file is thus one of the principal procedural guarantees intended to protect the rights of defence of the parties.

(See: Article 18(3) of the merger regulation; Articles 6 and 13(1) of Regulation No 2842/98 on the hearing of parties in certain proceedings under Articles 81 and 82 of the EC Treaty; Commission notice on the internal rules of procedure for processing requests for access to file (OJ C 23, 23.1.1997, p. 3).)

Source: Glossary of terms used in EU competition policy, Antitrust and control of concentrations, European Commission, 2002