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The Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership is heavily debated. It's still debated behind closed doors! Citizens may not get a look at the documents; a few German politicians have - after a very long debate - been able to get a look at it; but they have had to look at it in the American Embassy, have to read it there under high security standards and may not talk about or duplicate the documents. I mean, that is just against democracy. And it's frightening that even elected politicians were unable to discuss it for a very long time, as they would have to sign on behalf of Germany.

I would like to know if it's possible to sue the German government for its lack of transparency. I mean, we have the Federal Act Governing Access to Information held by the Federal Government, the German analogue to the US Freedom of Information Act:

Section 1 Underlying principles

(1) Everyone is entitled to official information from the authorities of the Federal Government in accordance with the provisions of this Act. This Act shall apply to other Federal bodies and institutions insofar as they discharge administrative tasks under public law. For the purposes of these provisions, a natural or legal person shall be treated as equivalent to an authority where an authority avails itself of such a person in discharging its duties under public law.

(2) The authority may furnish information, grant access to files or provide information in any other manner. Where an applicant requests a certain form of access to information, the information may only be provided by other means for good cause. In particular, substantially higher administrative expenditure shall constitute good cause.

(3) Provisions in other legislation on access to official information shall take precedence, with the exception of Section 29 of the Administrative Procedure Act (VwVfG) and Section 25 of Book Ten of the Social Code.

Section 2 Definitions

For the purposes of this Act,

  1. official information shall be defined as every record serving official purposes, irrespective of the mode of storage. This shall not include drafts and notes which are not intended to form part of a file;

  2. a third person shall be defined as anyone on whom personal data or other information are held.

3

Well, of course you can bring this to a court: Generally, all decisions of the government are open to judicial review. You would have to try and request the information from the relevant authorities first; if (when) they reject your request, you can bring the matter before a Verwaltungsgericht. This is laid out in § 9 (4) (official but non-authoritative translation) of the law.

It is quite unlikely that you would win, however, since the law contains a long list of exceptions in §§ 3 to 6. Of particular interest here is § 3 no. 3 a) (necessary confidentiality of international negotiations) and perhaps § 3 no. 1 a) (detrimental effect on international relations).

  • Thank you. It's sad :/ ... I would love to know more about it. – Amabile Scientius Apr 2 '16 at 20:04
  • Bear in mind that this is just a negotiation at the moment. (But keep up pressure on your local politicians to make sure it stays that way) – Martin Bonner Apr 3 '16 at 20:02

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