What is a meeting building

Right of assembly

The right to assemble peacefully and without weapons is protected in the Basic Law (Article 8, Paragraph 1 of the Basic Law) and in the Berlin Constitution (Article 26 of the Berlin Constitution (VvB)). In Berlin it is the task of the police to guarantee this right.

The central set of rules for this is the Berlin Freedom of Assembly Act (VersFG BE), which came into force on February 28, 2021 and replaces the Federal Assembly Act (VersG) that previously applied in Berlin. Since the federalism reform in 2006, the competence to legislate for the right of assembly has been transferred from the federal government to the states. Berlin has now made extensive use of this competence. and thus implements the coalition agreement concluded by the governing parties in 2016 to create Berlin's own freedom of assembly law. The law on recordings and recordings of image and sound at meetings in the open air and in lifts, the law on pacifying the conference venue of the Berlin House of Representatives (Berlin Bannmeilengesetz) and the law on the protection of memorials to the victims of inhumane treatment Remembering National Socialist violence and arbitrary rule (Memorial Protection Act) ceased to be in force when the new Freedom of Assembly Act came into force. The regulatory content of these laws has been included in the new Freedom of Assembly Act, so that now all statutory provisions on assemblies are bundled in one law.

Not every event is an assembly within the meaning of Art. 8 Para. 1 GG, 26 VvB. Only when at least two people come together for a common purpose and the common purpose is to participate in the “formation of public opinion” does a meeting take place (cf. § 2 VersFG BE). Cultural, religious, sporting or commercial events are therefore not gatherings.

Meetings do not need to be approved. The VersFG BE only stipulates an obligation to notify public meetings in the open air and elevators: they must be reported to the police at least 48 hours before the invitation to the meeting (cf. § 12 (1) VersFG BE). This is to ensure that the assembly or elevator can be given the necessary protection, third-party interests can be taken into account and security interests can be safeguarded.

The obligation to notify does not always apply to so-called spontaneous meetings: spontaneous meetings that are formed instantaneously and that are typically not organized by anyone do not have to be reported. If meetings are to take place at short notice (so-called rush meetings), the obligation to notify does not apply, only the notification period is different: rush meetings must be reported to the police immediately as soon as the decision to hold them has been made. This is regulated accordingly in § 12 Paragraph 6 and 7 VersFG BE.

The VersFG BE also contains regulations for public meetings in closed rooms (§§ 21 ff. VersFG) as well as provisions on penalties and fines (§§ 26 ff. VersFG BE), for example for the event that the public meeting in the open air or the elevator is carried out without notification (Section 27 Paragraph 1 Number 1 VersFG BE).