Access to environmental information

Blick auf Bürgerinformation und Bibliothek im UBA-Gebäude Dessau-RoßlauClick to enlarge
The Environmental Information service at the German Environment Agency’s headquarters in Dessau
Source: Silke Seider / Umweltbundesamt

Background and aims of the Environmental Information Act

The Environmental Information Act (Umweltinformationsgesetz, UIG) sets the framework for free access to environmental information and regulates the active dissemination of information of this kind. The federal Act entered into force on 14 February 2005 and transposes the Environmental Information Directive 2003/4/EC into German law.

The Länder (German states) have enacted their own laws on freedom of access to environmental information. The provisions of the laws of the Länder match those of the federal act in substantive terms or refer to the latter.

The Environmental Information Act regulates public access to environmental information. It obliges all bodies of public administration on the federal level as well as certain private bodies (called collectively bodies subject to a disclosure obligation) to provide access to environmental information. Bodies of public administration in the Länder are required to provide access to environmental information on the basis of the respective Länder laws.

The aim of the Environmental Information Act is to make environmental information held by bodies subject to a disclosure obligation accessible to the public and thereby increase the transparency of public administration . Access to information is essential for citizens to be able to be effectively involved in administrative decision-making and to monitor administrative activities.

Legal provisions

  • Environmental Information Act (Umweltinformationsgesetz)

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  • - Directive 2003/4/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 28 January 2003 on public access to environmental information

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  • Aarhus Convention

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 access to information  environmental law