Directorate B

Openness, access to documents, relations with civil society


Brussels, 8 May 2002

SG.B.2/MM D(2002) 330166

Mr. Walter KEIM
Torshaugvej 2C

by e-mail

Dear Mr. KEIM,

Thank you for your e-mail dated 18 April 2002 to President PRODI, who asked me to reply on his behalf.

You refer to the Commission's Communication COM(93) 191, which aimed at giving effect to Declaration N° 17 to the Maastricht Treaty on public access to information. This Communication contained mainly proposals for granting public access to EU documents. National rules on access to information or documents existed in most EU Member States. As you rightly point out, Germany is one of the last European countries lacking such a law. Draft legislation has been submitted to the Bundestag but no progress seems to have been made.

The Commission shares your view that access to official information should be granted to citizens. However, it is beyond the Commission's remit to take any form of action against Member States that fail to pass laws on freedom of information. I understand you have petitioned the Bundestag. This is indeed the right place to exert pressure. There is no way in which the EU Institutions could compel Germany to adopt rules granting access to official information. As I am sure you are aware, the Council of Europe is currently drafting a Recommendation in this field. In the end, Germany will most certainly follow the example of its European partners.

Thank you again for drawing our attention to this important issue.

Yours sincerely,

Head of Unit

 24. May 2002: Commission reiterates its answer.



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