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Private Bodies as Public Authorities under International, European, English and German Environmental Information Laws

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The Aarhus Convention, the Directive 2003/4/EC and national legislation, respectively, give citizens a right of access to environmental information as held by either public authorities or private bodies. For such information to be accessible, the body in question must have public responsibilities or functions or provide public services such as natural gas, electricity, sewerage and water services etc. The United Kingdom (UK) Environmental Information Regulations 2004 (EIRs) and the federal German Environmental Information Act (EIA), however, provide insufficient definitions of the private bodies in question. The parallel existence of the EIRs/EIA and Freedom of Information Acts (FOIAs) in the UK and in Germany adds further complexity to the situation. Unlike the UK implementation under which there is specific guidance which gives relatively good advice, the situation in Germany is pitiable. A more citizen-friendly solution to these problems could be the creation of a joint statute. This joint statute would provide for a comprehensive list of covered authorities.


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