Freedom of information law in German Parliament

By EDRi · December 30, 2004

The German Parliament (Bundestag) has completed the first reading of a new
freedom of information law on 17 December 2004. Germany and Switzerland
are the only 2 major Western European member states of the Council of
Europe without such a law on accessibility of governmental acts and
decision making. Within the EU, only Cyprus, Malta and Luxemburg lack this
kind of legislation. The German green-red coalition cabinet promised to
send such a proposal to the Lower House immediately after the summer

In a joint press release, the data protection authorities of
Schleswig-Holstein, Berlin, Brandenburg and Nordrhein-Westfalen call the
proposal ‘a step in the right direction’, but at the same time say the
proposal ‘shows the skid marks of numerous compromises’. Documents
containing company secrets can only be made available, even if the company
agrees, if there is an exceptional public interest. In general, the data
protection authorities complain there are too many restrictions in the

EDRI-gram reported earlier that a freedom of information law was already
announced in 1998, in the coalition agreement between the Social Democrat
Party (SPD) and the Greens. The project was stalled many times, until the
national ministry of the interior released a half-hearted discussion draft
in the summer of 2001. This legal proposal was rejected in June 2002, due
to party-political disagreement.

Press release data protection authority Schleswig-Holstein (17.12.2004)

EDRI-gram ‘German promise to adopt freedom of information law’ (15.07.2004)