The Federal Ministry of Transport must grant Deutsche Umwelthilfe (DUH) access to documents relating to carbon dioxide measurements on Volkswagen models. The Federal Administrative Court in Leipzig rejected the revision of the car company. (Ref .: BVerwG 10 C 2.20) “The Federal Ministry of Transport is responsible for information”, the chairman of the 10th Senate, Klaus Rennert, justified the decision. The public interest outweighs the protection of trade and business secrets.
In essence, it is about eleven pages from 2015, which, according to DUH, should prove that Volkswagen had admitted fake CO2 values in cars to the ministry. In 2015, Volkswagen admitted that “the CO certification of some vehicle models was too low2– and thus consumption data were also specified. “800,000 vehicles could be affected, including 98,000 cars with gasoline engines. According to a VW spokesman, the values for type approval were finally voluntarily corrected for 36,000 vehicles.
The ministry refused to hand over the documents on the grounds that investigations were still ongoing. The Higher Administrative Court of Berlin-Brandenburg had ruled the DUH in March 2019. The highest German administrative judges have now joined in. “After the preliminary proceedings of the Braunschweig public prosecutor’s office, the disclosure of the information did not have any negative effects on further criminal investigations,” emphasized Rennert.
Scheuer should “stop protecting the auto industry”
Despite the success, the decision in favor of DUH Federal Managing Director Jürgen Resch has a bitter aftertaste. “We have had this legal claim for five and a half years and could have supported many car owners at an early stage.” Transport Minister Andreas Scheuer should “finally do his job as a representative of the people in Germany and not as a representative of the automotive industry in the federal cabinet”.
After the court decision, Volkswagen emphasized that the transparency of official procedures in society plays an important role. This also includes access to official documents, as regulated in the Freedom of Information Act and the Environmental Information Act. “At the same time, it is the responsibility of the Volkswagen Group and its brands to ensure the confidentiality of those documents for which special protection interests apply and which have therefore been deliberately excluded from the general right to information by the legislature,” it said in a statement.