BVwG - W214 2235505-1

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BVwG - W214 2235505-1
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Court: BVwG (Austria)
Jurisdiction: Austria
Relevant Law: Article 6(4) GDPR
Artikel 8, 10 EMRK
Artikel 8, 10 GrCH
§ 1 DSG
§ 48a BAO
§§ 1-4 AuskunftspflichtG
Decided: 28.07.2021
Parties: unknown journalist
Austrian Ministry of Finances
National Case Number/Name: W214 2235505-1
European Case Law Identifier: ECLI:AT:BVWG:2021:W214.2235505.1.00
Appeal from:
Appeal to: Not appealed
Original Language(s): German
Original Source: RIS (in German)
Initial Contributor: n/a

The Federal Administrative Court Austria granted a journalist access to information on financial aid issued by the Federal Ministry of Finance during to the COVID-19 pandemic. It only provided access to information on aid for corporate entities, not individual entrepreneurs.

English Summary


The complaining journalist requested information from the Federal Ministry of Finance Austria on the names and sums of all companies that received financial aid in the form of tax deferrals, grants or loan guarantees during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The authority rejected the complainants request, arguing that it cannot provide the requested information due to a statutory duty of confidentiality coming from data protection (§ 1 DSG) and related tax laws (§ 48a BAO). Accordingly, the disclosure of the names of all companies including the concrete amounts of their respective COVID-19 support services would reveal too concrete and detailed information on the businesses earnings situation, profitability and competitiveness.


The BVwG held that the authority has to grant the journalist with access to information on the issued financial aid for corporate entities but not on those for individual entrepreneurs.

The court argued, that the complainant’s work as a journalist fulfils the social role of a "public watchdog" to prevent financial abuse during the exceptional COVID-19 pandemic. In line with European principles, publications of financial beneficiaries are of great social interest and strengthen both the control and contribution of the public to the appropriate use of funds by the administration. Moreover, the journalist is itself bound by the legal framework of his employment and respective obligations to protect companies affected by the reporting. The court therefore held that the authority has to provide the journalist with access to the information on financial aid issued on corporate companies.

On the other hand, as far as individual entrepreneurs are concerned, the court finds a more serious interference with the fundamental rights of the individual. Accordingly, in situations where the information issued refers to an individual entrepreneur, the balance of interest shifts to overriding interest of the individual behind the business (§ 1(2) DSG, Article 6(4) GDPR). The Information on financial aid for individual entrepreneurs therefore may not be provided to the journalist. However, this does not apply where union law provides legal exceptions to these provisions (e.g. in the case for aid higher than €500,000€ according to Article 9(1)(c) Regulation (EU) No 651/2014).


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English Machine Translation of the Decision

The decision below is a machine translation of the German original. Please refer to the German original for more details.