From official secrecy to freedom of information

As a country that still has official secrecy enshrined in its Constitution, Austria states an exceptional example within Europe. In the "Global Right to Information Ranking" published by the Centre for Law and Democracy Austria ranks on last place, being the country with the worst freedom of information legislation. Within the EU transparency and inclusive decision making is already enshrined in the European Charter of Fundamental Rights (Art 42) as a fundamental principle. Additionally Regulation (EC) 1049/2001 ensures access to information held by EU institutions. Beyond, the case law of the European Court of Human Rights on Article 10 ECHR derives a fundamental right to access to information. Against this background, the Austrian government finally has presented an amendment to the Constitutional Act thereby trying to set the first step in abolishment of official secrecy and introduction of freedom to information as a fundamental principle into the constitution. It is only a constitutional amendment, and no proposals on competence and procedures have been made so far. Additionally the amendment shows further serious shortcomings possibly undermining the higher aim to enshrine freedom of information as a fundamental principle.


New European Union Guidelines on State Aid for Environmental Protection and Energy

On 9April 2014, the European Commission adopted the new guidelines on State Aid for Environmental Protection and Energy for the period 2014-2020. The new guidelines will replace the 2008 guidelines from 1 July 2014 on. The Commission will have regard to the guidelines when deciding if state aid by Member States is in accordance with Union law. One of the principle changes is a move from fixed feed-in tariffs to marked-based support for renewable energy.

geändert am 13.05.2014