Efforts Under Way to Pass FOI Laws in German States

12 July 2013

Activists in German states are mounting efforts to pass freedom of information laws.

There are  initiatives in Nordrhine-Westphalia (NRW), Niedersachsen, Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, Baden-Württemberg, and Bavaria, according to German activists. Most of the proposals are modeled on a law (in English) passed in Hamburg that stresses proactive publication.

Nordrhine-Westphalia

In Nordrhine-Westphalia, the largest state in Germany, a new proposal (in German) was offered by an alliance of groups in April.

The initiative was started by the taxpayers league of Northrhine-Westfalia (Bund der Steuerzahler, www.steuerzahler-nrw.de), Mehr Demokratie (More Democracy: http://www.nrw.mehr-demokratie.de/) and Transparency International Deutschland (http://www.transparency.de/).

The draft is still being reviewed and is open for comment. “In September the proposed bill will be given to the parliament,” according to spokesman Thorsten Sterk of More Democracy. See the website for Das Transparenz-Gesetz für NRW.

Bavaria

The project “Bavaria Transparent” was launched Sept. 13, 2012, at the initiative of the Green Group in the Bavarian parliament.

The proposal stresses proactive dissemination, the group saying on its website that “Freedom of information laws are based on the principle that citizens must submit an application and pay a fee.”

It continues: “This is cumbersome, expensive and not always successful. This principle we want to reverse the creation of a central register information. With a Freedom of Information and Transparency Act, we want to make the citizens information easily accessible.”

Neidersachsen

The Alliance for Transparency in Neidersachsen has welcomed the legislative initiative of the Free Democratic Party to introduce a FOI law, but has pushed for the establishment of an information register.

The Alliance for Transparency was founded by AK retention, the CCC Hanover and More Democracy. The Alliance calls for a transparency law based on the  Hamburg model.

Mecklenburg-Vorpommern

A period for public comment on a draft law for Mecklenburg-Vorpommern ended May 31, according to the website of Tranparenzgesetz für Mecklenburg-Vorpommern.

John Saalfeld, home affairs spokesman of the Green parliamentary group, said, “We now want to take the time to examine the incorporation of this information into our design.”

The Alliance 90/The Greens parliamentary plans hope to bring their bill to the Diet in June, according to the website.

Baden-Württemberg

In early June, a journalists’  network, Netzwerk Recherche,  submitted its own draft access law to authorities in Baden-Wüerttemberg, seeking to capitalize on government promises to pass a bill, according to the group’s website.

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