Politics

Croatia without Open Access to Data on Functioning of Public Authorities

By 1 March 2019

ZAGREB, March 1, 2019 - Croatian citizens are still denied access to data on the functioning of public authorities, registers of beneficial owners of the media or judges' declarations of assets, the Open Data Day conference was told in Zagreb on Friday.

The European Commission is working on increasing access to data financed by public funds, but it is not quite clear whether Croatia will follow this trend, primarily because of personal data protection, said the executive director of the non-governmental election-monitoring organisation GONG, Jelena Berković.

Berković said that access to open data provides basic information about what is going on in the country so that voters can make informed decisions at the ballot box. She said that GONG would like to see the results of various inspections, including food quality inspections and school inspections prompted by peer violence.

She said that in Croatia there is still no open access to registers of development, building and occupancy permits, no searchable register of state assets, or schedules of court hearings.

"We would like to see all loans granted by the Croatian Bank for Reconstruction and Development, the register of lobbyists, how EU money is spent in Croatia, and open data on the funding of candidate for the forthcoming European Parliament elections," Berković said.

During a panel discussion, Melisa Skender of GONG said that the Freedom of Information Act was the main tool in the fight to ensure open access to data from public authorities. "However, practice shows that public authorities often ignore decisions made by the Information Commissioner," she said.

The conference brought together representatives of public authorities, the Information Commissioner's Office, the State Election Commission, the Central State Office for Digital Society Development, the Croatian Chamber of Commerce, the European Parliament Office in Zagreb and civil society organisations.

More news on the public administration in Croatia can be found in the Politics section.

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