The Federal Chancellery must disclose internal minutes of federal-state conferences in the corona pandemic. This was decided by the administrative court in Berlin after a complaint by the “Tagesspiegel” in a judgment that became known on Friday (Az.: VG 2 K 155/21).
According to the court, the federal government must release the recordings of five meetings in 2020. Four of the short protocols come from the time of the first corona lockdown and were created at conferences in March and April 2020, the fifth in November 2020.
According to court documents, the Chancellery stated in the proceedings that there were no minutes for other dates in the year. The “Tagesspiegel” had requested access to the documents under the Freedom of Information Act at the end of 2020, so the release is initially limited to this period.
Initially, the court did not give a reason for the verdict, it is only to be published next week after the verdict has been served on all those involved, it said.
At their summits, which took place mainly via video during the Corona peak, then Chancellor Angela Merkel (CDU) and the heads of government of the federal states agreed on important decisions to contain the pandemic. The most drastic measures included lockdowns and contact restrictions. After the deliberations, Merkel and some prime ministers informed about the results at press conferences.
While the federal government classified the documents on the deliberations as confidential and did not want to publish them, the “Tagesspiegel” argued that the minutes of the Corona summit from the early days of the pandemic are already historical documents. In addition, there is considerable public interest in how the heads of government positioned themselves in the negotiations at the time.
“The judgment strengthens freedom of information and creates transparency in the politically important question of how the decisions were made at the beginning of the corona pandemic,” said the newspaper’s legal policy correspondent, Jost Müller-Neuhof.