As the first step of the initiative, 15.000 signatures had been handed over in December 2011. As the second step, a petition was supposed to be held in September this year. However, this petition has become unnecessary since the parliament of Hamburg already accepted the proposal for more transparency on Hamburg’s legislation. The city of Hamburg is one of Germany’s 16 federal states, „Bundesländer“. Hamburg therefore has its own parliament, a constitution and laws at federal level.
With the overall goal of impeding corruption and manipulation, the initiative by citizens and political parties pursued two aims: Firstly, public acts should be based on the principle of openness, and secondly, citizens should be the masters of politics and administration. The initiative had gathered a lot of support by the citizens of Hamburg who had witnessed intransparency and impeding costs in their city. One example is the city of Hamburg’s project of building a public concert arena (“Elbphilharmonie”) that had led to massive additional costs.
The new law on transparency demands from the authorities to publish all information in an open register and to offer free and anonymous access. The central register will be online.
Yet naturally limited by laws on data privacy, generally personal information will be blurred when published but can be demanded on specific request. Any facts, circumstances and processes related to a company will be made accessible. Companies have to separate secret information from contracts and they have to argue when they do not intend to keep the information disclosed.
Particular requirements of disclosure are written down in the whitelist of the new law. Government decisions, contracts, expert advices, official instructions, grant decisions, statistics and geographic data have to be made public. Additionally, the whitelist states an opening clause: any kind of information has to be published upon request.
With the new legislation entering into force, Hamburg can pride itself in being the most transparent city of Germany.
Text by Cora Pfafferott and transparenzgesetz.de