Luxembourgh Times
Freedom of press

State officials to improve transparency, Bettel says

Prime minister promises parliament better access to public information

Prime Minister Xavier Bettel spoke again on freedom of information

Prime Minister Xavier Bettel spoke again on freedom of information © Photo credit: Shutterstock

Luxembourg’s government will make changes to become more responsive and transparent to the public, Prime Minister Xavier Bettel promised after years-long complaints that the country lags behind European peers.

Government ministries should now provide journalists with a response to questions within 24 hours or explain why that's not possible, said Bettel, who is also Luxembourg's media minister.

But the revision Bettel promised to his 2016 internal directive on government-press interactions will continue to insist that specialist communications officers, rather than the government employees directly involved in a specific field, communicate with reporters.

"I really do not rule out any adjustments," Bettel said in parliament on Thursday according to public radio station 100,7.

With concerns already expressed last year by the EU over public access to official government documents in Luxembourg and “selective” disclosure of information, this is not Bettel's first time addressing complaints about lack of access to government information. Bettel promised to improve press access to information during a meeting of Luxembourg’s journalists’ association last September.

Luxembourg fell three places in last year's ranking of press freedom around the world by the advocacy group Reporters Without Borders. The group criticised state agencies that "still tend to refuse to provide information to journalists” but still ranked Luxembourg 20th, which it called "quite good."

The issue also was highlighted in November by EU Justice Commissioner Didier Reynders. The EU report Reynders presented in Luxembourg's parliament criticised a 2018 law that grants the public the right to access government documents, but not to information they seek without knowing the documents to identify.