Germany

   

Executive Capacity

#11
Key Findings
Despite tensions within the governing coalition, Germany scores relatively well (rank 11) with respect to executive capacity. Its score on this measure has improved by 0.1 point relative to 2014.

The domestic agenda stems largely from negotiations between the coalition-partner party leaders, with the Chancellery possessing comparatively limited independent powers, and disputes resolved in the coalition committee. Ministries draft bills within their subject area with little Chancellery involvement, giving them considerable leeway to pursue their own or their party’s interests.

Several RIA programs are in place, producing generally high-quality reports. Sustainability concerns are regularly reviewed. While the government routinely meets with societal stakeholders, bargaining processes are not highly institutionalized. The renewed grand coalition has already achieved a number of its early coalition-agreement goals effectively.

The government has nevertheless seen clashes between ministries and parties on issues such as migration policy, badly undermining communication coherence. Regulations are typically enforced in an effective, unbiased way. A far-reaching constitutional change has reformed mechanisms such as federal-state funding, highway funding, federal oversight mechanism, and municipal funding.

Strategic Capacity

#23

How much influence do strategic planning units and bodies have on government decision-making?

10
 9

Strategic planning units and bodies take a long-term view of policy challenges and viable solutions, and they exercise strong influence on government decision-making.
 8
 7
 6


Strategic planning units and bodies take a long-term view of policy challenges and viable solutions. Their influence on government decision-making is systematic but limited in issue scope or depth of impact.
 5
 4
 3


Strategic planning units and bodies take a long-term view of policy challenges and viable solutions. Occasionally, they exert some influence on government decision-making.
 2
 1

In practice, there are no units and bodies taking a long-term view of policy challenges and viable solutions.
Strategic Planning
5
Since September 2017, the government has been led by Germany’s two largest political parties: the Christian Democrats (CDU/CSU) and the Social Democratic Party (SPD). The previous CDU/CSU-SPD government demonstrated little interest in improving the strategic planning of the Chancellery or federal government. However, the new government has rearranged the organizational structure of the Chancellery and introduced a new section (“Abteilung 6”) for political planning, innovation and digital politics, thus expanding the number of sections from six to seven. The head of the new section is Eva Christiansen, who is also a media adviser to Chancellor Angela Merkel.

The new head of the Chancellery, Helge Braun, previously coordinator for the relations between the central government and the Länder, has the status of a minister without portfolio, strengthening his position vis-á-vis the minister-presidents of the federal states and heads of the federal ministries. The Chancellery is constantly expanding and it currently employees 600 people. In spite of the new planning section in the Chancellery, planning is not a well-integrated part of the politics and policies of the new government nor is it a high priority for the federal government.

One handicap for developing a strategic policy approach is that the government is strongly influenced by party considerations, with all major political decisions determined in negotiations between the heads of the governing parties. Consequently, most governmental decisions are negotiated between the three heads of the parties that make up the current government (the CDU, CSU and SPD) and not between members of the government. This practice results in “party politicization” of the government, which undermines strategic planning. In addition, Chancellor Merkel’s leadership style can be described as time-oriented reactivity which is precluding goal- and future-oriented planning.

Does the government regularly take into account advice from non-governmental experts during decision-making?

10
 9

In almost all cases, the government transparently consults with non-governmental experts in the early stages of government decision-making.
 8
 7
 6


For major political projects, the government transparently consults with non-governmental experts in the early stages of government decision-making.
 5
 4
 3


In some cases, the government transparently consults with non-governmental experts in the early stages of government decision-making.
 2
 1

The government does not consult with non-governmental experts, or existing consultations lack transparency entirely and/or are exclusively pro forma.
Expert Advice
6
The federal government increasingly calls on experts’ and consultancies’ services. The budgets for expert advice have expanded dramatically in recent years. Over the last five years, the government has spent a minimum of €716 million on external advice. The Ministry for Defense spent the most on expert advice, followed by the Ministry of Transport and the Ministry of the Interior. On the one hand, the level of activities indicates a strong role for expert advice, which may foster the quality of legislation. On the other hand, it raises issues of cost efficiency, transparency and an inappropriate influence from outside the legislature.

In some policy fields, expert commissions advise policymakers on a regular basis. Most of their members are appointed by the government or by respective ministries. In addition, ad hoc commissions are created to provide scientific advice regarding major reforms that involve complex issues. There are other established expert advisory bodies providing the government with expertise and advice, such as the German Council of Economic Experts (Sachverständigenrat zur Begutachtung der Gesamtwirtschaftlichen Entwicklung) and the German Advisory Council on the Environment (Sachverständigenrat für Umweltfragen), which produce regular reports on current policy problems (the former at least once a year, the latter every four years).

Most ministries maintain external academic or legal advisory bodies. However, the impact of experts is often less visible and policymaking is heavily influenced by party positions. Nevertheless, while advisory reports do not have an immediate impact, they do bear some influence on political debates within the government, the parliament and among the general public because they are made publicly accessible.

Summing up, there seems to be a current shift from academic experts toward consultants. Scholarly advice is available on high levels, but day-by-day policies are decided upon on low levels of external and internal expertise because party politicization of the policymaking process dominates executive decision-making. In addition, engaging expert commissions or other scientific advice often seems to be used not to politically decide but to procrastinate.

Citations:
www.spiegel.de/wirtschaft/soziales/bundesregierung-zahlte-2017-rund-146-millionen-euro-fuer-externe-berater-a-1217561.html
https://www.sueddeutsche.de/news/politik/verteidigung-716-millionen-euro-in-fuenf-jahren-fuer-regierungsberater-dpa.urn-newsml-dpa-com-20090101-181211-99-170590

Interministerial Coordination

#28

Does the government office / prime minister’s office (GO / PMO) have the expertise to evaluate ministerial draft bills according to the government’s priorities?

10
 9

The GO / PMO provides regular, independent evaluations of draft bills for the cabinet / prime minister. These assessments are guided exclusively by the government’s priorities.
 8
 7
 6


The GO / PMO evaluates most draft bills according to the government’s priorities.
 5
 4
 3


The GO / PMO can rely on some sectoral policy expertise but does not evaluate draft bills.
 2
 1

The GO / PMO does not have any sectoral policy expertise. Its role is limited to collecting, registering and circulating documents submitted for cabinet meetings.
GO Expertise
6
Interministerial coordination is characterized by the prevalence of the departmental principle in the federal government and the main bulk of coordination is carried out at the working level. The lead section prepares a draft and establishes a process of negative coordination through which all other departments respond resulting in lowest-common-denominator policies.
The Chancellery is organized into seven directorates, with various numbers of subgroups that are again subdivided to better “mirror” the line ministries (“Spiegelreferate”). However, only four directorates with their sub-directorates (Referate) mirror the respective line ministries and may evaluate the ministerial draft bills. In general, the Chancellery does not autonomously evaluate important draft bills or assess them according to strategic and to budgetary government guidelines. In addition, it appears that its capacities are generally lower than those of the line ministries. With respect to European politics and international tasks, the Chancellery seems to coordinate with partners and to function quite effectively. However, in other policy areas the powers of the Chancellery remain astonishingly limited.

To what extent do line ministries involve the government office/prime minister’s office in the preparation of policy proposals?

10
 9

There are inter-related capacities for coordination between GO/PMO and line ministries.
 8
 7
 6


The GO/PMO is regularly briefed on new developments affecting the preparation of policy proposals.
 5
 4
 3


Consultation is rather formal and focuses on technical and drafting issues.
 2
 1

Consultation occurs only after proposals are fully drafted as laws.
Line Ministries
6
The preparation of bills is mainly the prerogative of the line ministries (Ressortprinzip). Over the course of regular policy processes, the Chancellery is most of the time well informed, but is not strongly involved in ministerial initiatives. Most disputes between ministries and the Chancellery are discussed and resolved in the often-weekly meetings between the state secretaries and the Chancellery’s staff. Because of the rapidly decreasing electoral support of the three governing parties (the CDU, CSU and SPD), the line ministries and their respective policies became more and more independent and follow the preferences of the political parties involved. Each party now tries to push through its own policy conception which may contradict that of the other parties. Negotiating a commonly developed government policy is highly contested and extraordinarily difficult. On migration and asylum policies, the first half of 2018 saw a heavy conflict between the minister of the interior, building and community, Horst Seehofer (CSU), and the Chancellery. In August 2018, Seehofer stated his intention to end the continuous dispute over migration policy, and develop a common policy line with Chancellor Merkel and the rest of the government.

How effectively do ministerial or cabinet committees coordinate cabinet proposals?

10
 9

The vast majority of cabinet proposals are reviewed and coordinated first by committees.
 8
 7
 6


Most cabinet proposals are reviewed and coordinated by committees, in particular proposals of political or strategic importance.
 5
 4
 3


There is little review or coordination of cabinet proposals by committees.
 2
 1

There is no review or coordination of cabinet proposals by committees. Or: There is no ministerial or cabinet committee.
Cabinet Committees
5
As a rule of thumb, the cabinet functions as an institution that formally ratifies policy decisions that have been made elsewhere. In principle, line ministers are responsible for policies within their own jurisdiction. Therefore, they have a strong leeway to pursue their own or their party’s interests, though each ministry must to some extent involve other ministries while drafting bills.

Formal cabinet committees do not play an important role in policymaking and are rarely involved in the review or coordination of proposals. Instead, the coalition committee is mainly responsible for coordinating policies (see Informal Coordination).

How effectively do ministry officials/civil servants coordinate policy proposals?

10
 9

Most policy proposals are effectively coordinated by ministry officials/civil servants.
 8
 7
 6


Many policy proposals are effectively coordinated by ministry officials/civil servants.
 5
 4
 3


There is some coordination of policy proposals by ministry officials/civil servants.
 2
 1

There is no or hardly any coordination of policy proposals by ministry officials/civil servants.
Ministerial Bureaucracy
7
Interministerial coordination is typically initiated by the lead unit responsible for preparing a draft proposal, which will be sent to the co-signing ministries (i.e., those ministries whose competences are affected). The co-signing ministerial units read the proposal for negative effects on their own area of competences and only sign once those are eliminated. Ministerial civil servants seek to solve conflicts before involving the higher echelons of the hierarchy. A weekly Monday meeting of administrative state secretaries, preparing the agenda for the upcoming cabinet meeting, serves as the last arbiter.
Ex ante coordination between the line ministries’ leading civil servants has not been particularly strong under past German coalition governments. In addition, an entrenched political practice ensures that no ministry makes any proposal that might be postponed or blocked by other ministries. The federal Ministry of Finance must be involved when budgetary resources are concerned, while complicated legal or constitutional issues necessitate the involvement of the federal Ministry of Justice. But generally, every ministry is fully responsible for its own proposed bills. All controversial issues are already settled before being discussed by the cabinet. The dominant mechanism for conflict resolution is the coalition committee, which is composed of the respective heads of the governing parties, sometimes supplemented by higher bureaucrats and/or party politicians. It is the most important and informal decision-making body with comprehensive competences in the governing process.

How effectively do informal coordination mechanisms complement formal mechanisms of interministerial coordination?

10
 9

Informal coordination mechanisms generally support formal mechanisms of interministerial coordination.
 8
 7
 6


In most cases, informal coordination mechanisms support formal mechanisms of interministerial coordination.
 5
 4
 3


In some cases, informal coordination mechanisms support formal mechanisms of interministerial coordination.
 2
 1

Informal coordination mechanisms tend to undermine rather than complement formal mechanisms of interministerial coordination.
Informal Coordination
6
There are a number of informal mechanisms by which government policy is coordinated. The most important of these is the coalition committee, which comprises the most important government actors (i.e., the chancellor, the deputy chancellor, the chairpersons of the parliamentary groups and the party chairpersons) within the coalition parties. According to the recent coalition agreement from 2017, the coalition committee is expected to meet regularly or can be convened at the request of any of the coalition partners. Effectively, the coalition committee does not meet regularly except in a crisis situation. In 2018, during the escalating conflicts between the minister of the interior, building and community, Horst Seehofer (CSU), and Chancellor Angela Merkel, the coalition committee was unable to resolve the intense political conflicts and to develop coordinated policy responses. For everyday business, the coalition committee typically decides on the basis of the lowest-common-denominator.

How extensively and effectively are digital technologies used to support interministerial coordination (in policy development and monitoring)?

10
 9

The government uses digital technologies extensively and effectively to support interministerial coordination.
 8
 7
 6


The government uses digital technologies in most cases and somewhat effectively to support interministerial coordination.
 5
 4
 3


The government uses digital technologies to a lesser degree and with limited effects to support interministerial coordination.
 2
 1

The government makes no substantial use of digital technologies to support interministerial coordination.
Digitalization for Interministerial C.
5
In German government, interministerial coordination is generally low due to the principal of ministerial responsibility. In day-by-day politics and policies, every ministry pursues its own policies and only in rare cases does interministerial coordination take place. Overall, collective policies of the government are rare. In general, Germany is a country with a slow take-up of e-governance. A special digital strategy for interministerial coordination and thus for better policies is not yet visible. However, some Länder governments, such as Baden-Wuerttemberg and Brandenburg, took the initiative and started to digitalize their interministerial coordination.

Evidence-based Instruments

#5

To what extent does the government assess the potential impacts of existing and prepared legal acts (regulatory impact assessments, RIA)?

10
 9

RIA are applied to all new regulations and to existing regulations which are characterized by complex impact paths. RIA methodology is guided by common minimum standards.
 8
 7
 6


RIA are applied systematically to most new regulations. RIA methodology is guided by common minimum standards.
 5
 4
 3


RIA are applied in some cases. There is no common RIA methodology guaranteeing common minimum standards.
 2
 1

RIA are not applied or do not exist.
RIA Application
8
In 2000, revised rules of procedure for the federal ministries (Gemeinsame Geschäftsordnung der Bundesministerien, GGO) came into effect, requiring an impact assessment (Gesetzesfolgenabschätzung, GFA) for every draft law. Thus, regulatory impact assessments are institutionally anchored in Germany. The GFA process analyzes both intended and unintended effects of draft laws and potential alternatives. In addition, on behalf of the government, nongovernment organizations developed guidelines for sustainability assessments. In October 2016, Chancellor Merkel (re)appointed the German Council for Sustainable Development (RNE). The council’s recommendations have, however, no binding power.
The government’s 2006 Bureaucracy Reduction and Better Regulation program created a number of new policies relevant to the assessment process. It established the National Regulatory Control Council (Normenkontrollrat, NKR) as an independent watchdog and advisory body tasked with assessing new legislation. It adopted the Standard Cost Model as a tool for measuring bureaucratic costs. Finally, it institutionalized the bureaucracy reduction process by creating a coordination unit within the cabinet office and setting up a committee at the ministerial undersecretary level. However, the NRK only concentrates on potential bureaucratic costs, and not on impacts of laws foreseen through the evaluation process. In addition, about 30% of laws – specifically, those which are initiated by parliament – are not reviewed under the NKR. A separate program is in place for environmental impact assessment. Since the above mentioned initiatives, new initiatives have not been undertaken.

Does the RIA process ensure participation, transparency and quality evaluation?

10
 9

RIA analyses consistently involve stakeholders by means of consultation or collaboration, results are transparently communicated to the public and assessments are effectively evaluated by an independent body on a regular basis.
 8
 7
 6


The RIA process displays deficiencies with regard to one of the three objectives.
 5
 4
 3


The RIA process displays deficiencies with regard to two of the three objectives.
 2
 1

RIA analyses do not exist or the RIA process fails to achieve any of the three objectives of process quality.
Quality of RIA Process
9
The National Regulatory Control Council (Normenkontrollrat, NKR) cooperates with a large number of different actors on various levels of the administration. Its cooperation with German states and local authorities has intensified, in particular with the development of methodological standards for assessing compliance costs. In its 2018 annual report, the NKR claimed that the costs for new regulations and laws had peaked in 2017, while in 2018 costs had declined to €867.4 million. The economy accounted for the highest share (about 90%), followed by the public administration (8%) and private households (only 2%).

However, the NKR argued that public administration digitalization processes in Germany strongly lagged behind other European countries, wasting important opportunities for further cost reductions.

The new “one-in-one-out” rule, introduced in 2015, should reduce the financial burdens on enterprises. This rule means that all new costs for enterprises and state bureaucracy (the “ins”) have to be compensated for by additional regulations that reduce costs (the “outs”). In 2017, the rule reduced the costs for enterprises about €302 million.

Citations:
Normenkontrollrat (2018): Jahresbericht des Normenkontrollrates 2018:
https://www.normenkontrollrat.bund.de/resource/blob/72494/1536236/1bed933ea006098d6807ab48bd3c8574/2018-10-10-download-nkr-jahresbericht-2018-data.pdf?download=1

https://www.normenkontrollrat.bund.de/nkr-de/presse/pressemitteilungen/nkr-nimmt-stellung-zum-jahresbericht-der-bundesregierung-bessere-rechtsetzung-2017–1121138

Does the government conduct effective sustainability checks within the framework of RIA?

10
 9

Sustainability checks are an integral part of every RIA; they draw on an exhaustive set of indicators (including social, economic, and environmental aspects of sustainability) and track impacts from the short- to long-term.
 8
 7
 6


Sustainability checks lack one of the three criteria.
 5
 4
 3


Sustainability checks lack two of the three criteria.
 2
 1

Sustainability checks do not exist or lack all three criteria.
Sustainability Check
8
In October 2016, Chancellor Merkel (re)appointed the German Council for Sustainable Development (RNE) for a term of three years. The RNE consists of 15 people selected by the chancellor. Its role is to contribute to the implementation of the National Sustainability Strategy by identifying areas for action, developing specific project proposals, and by increasing awareness on the importance of sustainability issues. Six members were newly appointed in October 2016 and the remaining members were reconfirmed. The RNE independently chooses its array of topics and actions.

In addition, the parliamentary Council for Sustainable Development (Parlamentarische Beirat für nachhaltige Entwicklung, PBnE) supervises the government’s sustainability strategy. Its political influence appears moderate and its primary task is to act as an advocate for long-term responsibility in the business of government. The PBnE was established in 2004 and must be reconstituted after every parliamentary election. On the whole, neither the RNE nor the PBnE are well integrated into the RIA framework.

According to the 2018 Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) Index, which has been jointly developed by the Bertelsmann Foundation and the Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN), Germany ranked 5th out of 157 countries, an improvement of one position compared to the previous year.

Citations:
Sustainable Development Goals Index 2018:
http://sdgindex.org/assets/files/2018/00%20SDGS%202018%20G20%20EDITION%20WEB%20V7%20180718.pdf

https://www.nachhaltigkeitsrat.de/aktuelles/aktuelle-meldungen/detailansicht/artikel/nachhaltige-entwicklung-fehlstellen-auch-in-deutschland/

https://www.bundesregierung.de/Webs/Breg/DE/Themen/Nachhaltigkeitsstrategie/3-nachhaltige-entwicklung-alle-sind-Partner/parlamentarischer-beirat/_node.html

To what extent do government ministries regularly evaluate the effectiveness and/or efficiency of public policies and use results of evaluations for the revision of existing policies or development of new policies?

10
 9

Ex post evaluations are carried out for all significant policies and are generally used for the revision of existing policies or the development of new policies.
 8
 7
 6


Ex post evaluations are carried out for most significant policies and are used for the revision of existing policies or the development of new policies.
 5
 4
 3


Ex post evaluations are rarely carried out for significant policies and are rarely used for the revision of existing policies or the development of new policies.
 2
 1

Ex post evaluations are generally not carried out and do not play any relevant role for the revision of existing policies or the development of new policies.
Quality of Ex Post Evaluation
7
In general, government ministries are solely responsible for policy results and, as a consequence, evaluate the effectiveness of policies within their domain. Evaluations are often part of a ministry’s daily procedures.

Traditionally, evaluation of legislation in Germany has an ex ante character. Ex post evaluations are not yet universally undertaken. Ex-post evaluations study the causal impact of policies based on credible experimental methods, for example, through comparisons of a treatment group with a control group. Today, thorough ex post analyzes are used in the fields of labor market, education and family policies. A milestone for ex post labor market research was the introduction of a legal obligation to evaluate the impact of active labor market policies in 1998. Since then, important legislation like labor market and social security reforms (Hartz reforms), and later the introduction of minimum wages have undergone a far-reaching ex-post evaluation with high methodological standards and the involvement of independent academic expertise.

Thus, while good standards for high-quality ex post evaluation have been set for some important policy fields, the broad use of these methods across a wider field of policies is still lacking in Germany.

Citations:
Boockmann, B., Buch, C. M., Schnitzer, M. (2014): Evidenzbasierte Wirtschaftspolitik in Deutschland: Defizite und Potentiale, IAW Discussion Paper Nr. 103, April 2014.

Societal Consultation

#10

Does the government consult with societal actors in a fair and pluralistic manner?

10
 9

The government always consults with societal actors in a fair and pluralistic manner.
 8
 7
 6


The government in most cases consults with societal actors in a fair and pluralistic manner.
 5
 4
 3


The government does consult with societal actors, but mostly in an unfair and clientelistic manner.
 2
 1

The government rarely consults with any societal actors.
Public Consultation
7
In general, government representatives meet with societal stakeholders as part of their daily routine. The previous and current CDU/CSU-SPD coalition governments did not make use of formal approaches like social pacts or other direct bargaining mechanisms. As under previous governments, ministries and parliamentary committees relied heavily on information provided by interest groups, and took their proposals or demands into account when developing legislation. The impact of civil society actors in general depends on their power, resources and organizational status. Since interests are sometimes mediated through institutionalized corporatist structures, employers’ associations and unions play a privileged role. On a regular basis, experts and interest groups take part in parliamentary committee hearings in the course of the legislative process.

Regarding religious communities, established mechanisms for exchange and cooperation exist between the government, and the Christian churches and the Jewish community. Though frictions hamper government dialogue with the Islamic communities. The German Islam Conference is supposed to assist in the development of an intercultural dialogue between government officials and Muslim civil society organizations. The institution celebrated its 10-year anniversary in 2016, but since then little progress has been realized. On the contrary, conflicts between its members, mainly between the government and the DiTib, increased and its future seems uncertain.

Policy Communication

#32

To what extent does the government achieve coherent communication?

10
 9

Ministries are highly successful in aligning their communication with government strategy.
 8
 7
 6


Ministries most of the time are highly successful in aligning their communication with government strategy.
 5
 4
 3


Ministries occasionally issue public statements that contradict the public communication of other ministries or the government strategy.
 2
 1

Strategic communication planning does not exist; individual ministry statements regularly contradict each other. Messages are often not factually consistent with the government’s strategy.
Coherent Communication
4
In a formal sense, the federal government’s Press and Information Office is the focal point for communication, serving as the conduit for information originating from individual ministries, each of which organizes their own communication processes and strategies. However, this does not guarantee a coherent communication policy, which is a difficult goal for any coalition government. There is a persistent tendency of coalition partners to raise their own profile versus that of the other government parties.

After the 2017 general election and especially in 2018 once the new grand coalition was in office, conflicts between the governing parties were widely and openly discussed with little evidence of a coherent communication strategy. This was particularly apparent with regard to migration, but also with regard to other important policy issues, such as finding an appropriate way to deal with the rise of the new right-wing populist party, the AfD. In terms of coherent government communication, 2018 was a disaster for the federal government.

Implementation

#6

To what extent can the government achieve its own policy objectives?

10
 9

The government can largely implement its own policy objectives.
 8
 7
 6


The government is partly successful in implementing its policy objectives or can implement some of its policy objectives.
 5
 4
 3


The government partly fails to implement its objectives or fails to implement several policy objectives.
 2
 1

The government largely fails to implement its policy objectives.
Government Effectiveness
8
The current government finalized its coalition agreement in February 2018 and it is too early to comprehensively assess the implementation rate. Notwithstanding the government’s salient dispute over migration issues, the grand coalition has started to implement numerous important projects from the coalition agreement. Examples concern pension policies (e.g., more generous pensions for mothers, a double guarantee on the maximum contribution rate and a minimum pension level), the reduction of unemployment insurance contributions, the improvement of care-related benefits, a new regulation on housing rents (“Mietpreisbremse”) or an increase for investment spending in the budget. It is disputed among experts whether these measures are well-targeted or sufficient to address the country’s long-run challenges. But these examples prove that the current grand coalition like the previous government is able to implement policies largely in line with its initial objectives.

To what extent does the organization of government provide mechanisms to ensure that ministers implement the government’s program?

10
 9

The organization of government successfully provides strong mechanisms for ministers to implement the government’s program.
 8
 7
 6


The organization of government provides some mechanisms for ministers to implement the government’s program.
 5
 4
 3


The organization of government provides weak mechanisms for ministers to implement the government’s program.
 2
 1

The organization of government does not provide any mechanisms for ministers to implement the government’s program.
Ministerial Compliance
7
In principle, line ministers are responsible for policies that fall under their jurisdiction. Therefore, individual ministers have some leeway to pursue their own or their party’s interests. This leeway is substantial in international comparison. Ministers sometimes pursue interests that therefore clash with the chancellor or coalition agreements. Fr example, under the current government, the minister of the interior, building and community, Horst Seehofer (CSU), has often been at odds with the chancellor, parts of the CDU and the coalition partner, the SPD. However, the coalition agreement bears considerable political weight and has often proved effective in guiding ministry activities. In terms of budgetary matters, Minister of Finance Olaf Scholz is particularly powerful and able – when he has the chancellor’s support – to reject financial requests by other ministries.

The new coalition agreement includes rules defining when a coalition committee will meet and who will join the meetings. As in previous coalitions, the coalition committee consists of the chancellor and the vice-chancellor, the leaders of parliamentary groups and party leaders. Under the old government, the coalition committee informally became the most important institution in resolving political disagreements within the government. During the current government’s short period in office, it has not yet been able to fully resolve conflicts, particularly conflicts concerning the refugee issue in the beginning of 2018.

How effectively does the government office/prime minister’s office monitor line ministry activities with regard to implementation?

10
 9

The GO / PMO effectively monitors the implementation activities of all line ministries.
 8
 7
 6


The GO / PMO monitors the implementation activities of most line ministries.
 5
 4
 3


The GO / PMO monitors the implementation activities of some line ministries.
 2
 1

The GO / PMO does not monitor the implementation activities of line ministries.
Monitoring Ministries
5
According to the Basic Law, ministers are fully responsible for governing their own divisions. However, they are bound to the general government guidelines drawn up by the chancellor or the coalition agreement. Concerning topics of general political interest, the cabinet makes decisions collectively. The internal rules of procedure require line ministers to inform the chancellor’s office about all important issues. However, in some cases, the Chancellery lacks the sectoral expertise to monitor line ministries’ policy proposals effectively.

How effectively do federal and subnational ministries monitor the activities of bureaucracies/executive agencies with regard to implementation?

10
 9

The ministries effectively monitor the implementation activities of all bureaucracies/executive agencies.
 8
 7
 6


The ministries monitor the implementation activities of most bureaucracies/executive agencies.
 5
 4
 3


The ministries monitor the implementation activities of some bureaucracies/executive agencies.
 2
 1

The ministries do not monitor the implementation activities of bureaucracies/executive agencies.
Monitoring Agencies|Bureaucracies
8
Executive agencies’ competences and responsibilities are explicitly detailed in law, edicts, statutes and other regulations. Their activities are not only subject to legal, but also to functional supervision, meaning that agencies’ decisions and administrative instructions will be reviewed. However, the ministries have not always made appropriate use of their oversight mechanism. A number of independent agencies, including the Federal Employment Office, the Federal Network Agency, the Bundesbank and others have deliberately been placed beyond the effective control of the federal government. It is important that monitoring agencies maintain organizational independence, so that they may monitor government effectiveness and financial impacts. The National Regulatory Control Council has tried to increase its powers over legislative and bureaucratic processes at federal and state levels. The Taxpayer’s Association monitors levels of waste in the use of public resources.

To what extent does the central government ensure that tasks delegated to subnational self-governments are adequately funded?

10
 9

The central government enables subnational self-governments to fulfill all their delegated tasks by funding these tasks sufficiently and/or by providing adequate revenue-raising powers.
 8
 7
 6


The central government enables subnational governments to fulfill most of their delegated tasks by funding these tasks sufficiently and/or by providing adequate revenue-raising powers.
 5
 4
 3


The central government sometimes and deliberately shifts unfunded mandates to subnational governments.
 2
 1

The central government often and deliberately shifts unfunded mandates to subnational self-governments.
Task Funding
7
The delegation of tasks from the national to the subnational level without commensurate funding has been a sore point of German fiscal federalism. For instance, municipalities suffer under the weight of increasing costs of welfare programs. However, a number of adjustments over the last years have substantially rejuvenated municipalities and states. For example, in July 2016, the federal government increased the flat-rate payment for the integration of migrants by about €8 billion until 2018, which was an exceptional improvement.

With respect to the future of the fiscal equalization system, an important compromise on the new system (in effect from 2020 onward) was achieved in October 2016. In this compromise, the Länder receive higher shares of VAT revenues and a system of exclusively vertical equalization payments (from the federal to the state level) is replacing the current horizontal system (where richer states pay to poorer states).

In the beginning of November 2018, the government agreed a digitalization pact (“Digitalpakt”), which will include the federal government and the Länder governments. The federal government will invest about €5 billion and would gain new regulatory competences in the area of education, which has hitherto been the exclusive domain of the Länder. In addition, the pack stipulates that the Länder will match the government’s investment into the program. Though whether the Länder governments will follow the line remains unclear. Some of the prime ministers of the Länder strongly insist that education should remain within the exclusive competences of the Länder.

To what extent does central government ensure that subnational self-governments may use their constitutional scope of discretion with regard to implementation?

10
 9

The central government enables subnational self-governments to make full use of their constitutional scope of discretion with regard to implementation.
 8
 7
 6


Central government policies inadvertently limit the subnational self-governments’ scope of discretion with regard to implementation.
 5
 4
 3


The central government formally respects the constitutional autonomy of subnational self-governments, but de facto narrows their scope of discretion with regard to implementation.
 2
 1

The central government deliberately precludes subnational self-governments from making use of their constitutionally provided implementation autonomy.
Constitutional Discretion
8
The allocation of tasks and responsibilities between the federal and state governments is defined in the Basic Law. Thus, police functions, cultural tasks, and education, including both schools and universities, are the responsibility of the states. This distribution of tasks is largely respected by the federal government. A far-reaching equalization system and an ongoing shift of tax revenues from the federal to the state level has also been improving the financial capabilities of states to fulfill these tasks (see Task Funding). Moreover, the Basic Law also grants local self-government to the almost 12,000 local governments in Germany. Local governments enjoy autonomy in organizing and carrying out their own affairs.

To what extent does central government ensure that subnational self-governments realize national standards of public services?

10
 9

Central government effectively ensures that subnational self-governments realize national standards of public services.
 8
 7
 6


Central government largely ensures that subnational self-governments realize national standards of public services.
 5
 4
 3


Central government ensures that subnational self-governments realize national minimum standards of public services.
 2
 1

Central government does not ensure that subnational self-governments realize national standards of public services.
National Standards
7
German federalism impedes the application of national standards because both states and local governments enjoy considerable autonomy. Public services are provided by various levels of government: the federal administration, the administrations of federal states, municipalities, indirect public administrations (institutions subject to public law with specific tasks, particularly in the area of social security), nonpublic and nonprofit institutions (e.g., kindergartens or youth centers), and finally judicial administrations. While some standards have a national character and thus have to be respected at all levels, this is not the case in some areas, such as education.

To what extent is government enforcing regulations in an effective and unbiased way, also against vested interests?

10
 9

Government agencies enforce regulations effectively and without bias.
 8
 7
 6


Government agencies, for the most part, enforce regulations effectively and without bias.
 5
 4
 3


Government agencies enforce regulations, but ineffectively and with bias.
 2
 1

Government agencies enforce regulations ineffectively, inconsistently and with bias.
Regulatory Enforcement
9
Laws and other regulations are usually enforced in an effective and unbiased way. However, law enforcement against vested interest depends on the structure of the respective acts. Detailed and strict laws are difficult to thwart, and administrators and courts are able to enforce them. By contrast, vague and lax laws may be more easily circumvented by vested interests. In general, government and courts are willing and able to enforce their respective regulations, and prevail against vested interests.

A current example concerns the enforcement of air quality protection regulation. This is a highly contested issue with vested interests on both sides of the debate (on the one hand, the powerful automotive industry and, on the other hand, influential environmental pressure groups). The fact that driving limits for diesel cars have been enforced in a rigorous way (also compared to other EU member states with identical air quality standards) indicates a largely unbiased implementation process.

Adaptability

#16

To what extent does the government respond to international and supranational developments by adapting domestic government structures?

10
 9

The government has appropriately and effectively adapted domestic government structures to international and supranational developments.
 8
 7
 6


In many cases, the government has adapted domestic government structures to international and supranational developments.
 5
 4
 3


In some cases, the government has adapted domestic government structures to international and supranational developments.
 2
 1

The government has not adapted domestic government structures, no matter how beneficial adaptation might be.
Domestic Adaptability
5
As in other EU member states, EU regulations have a significant impact on German legislation. The country’s legal system is heavily influenced by EU law, but the federal government does not have a central policy unit specifically coordinating and managing EU affairs. Each federal ministry is responsible for all matters within its sectoral purview related to the adoption, implementation and coordination of proposals by the European Commission. Federal structures present specific problems in terms of policy learning and adaptability to international and supranational developments. In general, Germany did not seriously attempt to adopt government structures to the changing national, inter- and transnational context.

To what extent is the government able to collaborate effectively with international efforts to foster global public goods?

10
 9

The government can take a leading role in shaping and implementing collective efforts to provide global public goods. It is able to ensure coherence in national policies affecting progress.
 8
 7
 6


The government is largely able to shape and implement collective efforts to provide global public goods. Existing processes enabling the government to ensure coherence in national policies affecting progress are, for the most part, effective.
 5
 4
 3


The government is partially able to shape and implement collective efforts to provide global public goods. Processes designed to ensure coherence in national policies affecting progress show deficiencies.
 2
 1

The government does not have sufficient institutional capacities to shape and implement collective efforts to provide global public goods. It does not have effective processes to ensure coherence in national policies affecting progress.
International Coordination
9
The German government actively collaborates in various reform efforts promoted by the European Union and other transnational and international organizations. In the context of euro zone debt crisis, the German government has played a leading role in organizing and creating stabilization mechanisms. The government strongly cooperated with European partners, particularly France and other countries, such as the United States, and international organizations in addressing the Crimea crisis and civil war in eastern Ukraine. Moreover, Germany has had a significant role in achieving a consensus at the Paris Climate Summit in November 2015. Regarding migration, Germany has also tried to find more comprehensive European solutions, although with limited success. During the summer 2018, the Merkel government started to arrange new agreements for the return of migrants and refugees with important European countries (e.g., Greece, Spain and Italy), and with some non-European states bordering the Mediterranean Sea (e.g., Morocco, Tunisia and Libya).

Generally, Germany is a constructive partner in international reform initiatives, and is ready to accept substantial costs and risks in order to realize global and European public goods.

Organizational Reform

#12

To what extent do actors within the government monitor whether institutional arrangements of governing are appropriate?

10
 9

The institutional arrangements of governing are monitored regularly and effectively.
 8
 7
 6


The institutional arrangements of governing are monitored regularly.
 5
 4
 3


The institutional arrangements of governing are selectively and sporadically monitored.
 2
 1

There is no monitoring.
Self-monitoring
5
There is neither a particular institution nor a commission that independently and impartially operates as an oversight body with respect to governmental activities. In addition, institutional self-monitoring capacities are still low. However, the creation of the Better Regulation Unit in the Chancellery and the extension of the competences of the National Regulatory Control Council (Normenkontrollrat, NKR) – an independent advisory body – have strengthened the capacities for self-monitoring.

To what extent does the government improve its strategic capacity by changing the institutional arrangements of governing?

10
 9

The government improves its strategic capacity considerably by changing its institutional arrangements.
 8
 7
 6


The government improves its strategic capacity by changing its institutional arrangements.
 5
 4
 3


The government does not improve its strategic capacity by changing its institutional arrangements.
 2
 1

The government loses strategic capacity by changing its institutional arrangements.
Institutional Reform
8
In general, institutional reforms intended to improve the government’s management capacities are extremely rare. As in other countries, strategic capacities and reform efforts are heavily influenced by constitutional and public-governance structures and traditions. The federal system assigns considerable independent authority to the states. In turn, the states have a crucial role in implementing federal legislation. This creates a complex environment with many institutional veto players across different levels. Institutional and organizational inertia spells for low levels of strategic capacity. German Federalism Reforms, which together represent one of the more far-reaching institutional changes of recent years, have started to have an impact on the adaptability of the federal politics. In 2017, a far-reaching reform was adopted. It contained 13 constitutional changes, touching upon areas such as financial equalization among the federal states, highway construction, better control mechanisms for the German federal government and the Federal Audit Office (concerning mixed financing between the federal and state governments), and investment grants for financially weak municipalities.
Back to Top