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 0.2 points 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. Driven by electoral concerns, the governing parties have acted to pursue their own interests through the ministries under their control, undermining coordination.

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 grand coalition has achieved a large share of its coalition-agreement goals effectively.

While the coalition parties have sought to raise their own profiles at the expense of other government parties, decisions on climate and welfare-state policies were jointly and coherently defended. Regulations are typically enforced in an effective, unbiased way. Under a new digitalization pact, the federal government will invest about €5 billion in schools’ digital infrastructures.

Strategic Capacity

#24

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 most important political parties: the Christian Democrats (CDU/CSU) and the Social Democratic Party (SPD).The former CDU/CSU and SPD government showed comparatively little interest in improving the strategic planning of the Chancellery or federal government. However, the new government rearranged the organizational structure of the Chancellery, and introduced a new section (“Abteilung 6”) for political planning, innovation and digital politics, thus expanding the total number of sections from six to seven. The head of the new section is Eva Christiansen, who is also Chancellor Merkel’s media adviser.

Head of the Chancellery Helge Braun was previously coordinator for relations between the central government and the Länder. His current role has the status of a minister without portfolio, strengthening his position vis-á-vis the minister-presidents of the federal states and the heads of the federal ministries. The Chancellery is constantly expanding, and currently has more than 600 staff members. Despite the new planning section in the Chancellery, planning is neither well developed nor a well-integrated part of the politics and policies of the new government; indeed, it is not accorded a high priority by the federal government overall.

One handicap with regard to 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 heads of the three parties that make up the current government (the CDU, CSU and SPD) rather than between members of the government. This practice results in a “party politicization” of the government that undermines strategic planning. In addition, Chancellor Merkel’s leadership style can be described as time-oriented reactivity, which precludes goal- and future-oriented planning.

At the end of the review period, conflicts between the coalition partners had increased in intensity, and the parties’ strategies for the next elections were becoming increasingly important. In addition, internal party conflicts are becoming stronger, impeding attempts to improve strategic planning. However, at the beginning of November 2019, the governing parties negotiated a detailed midterm review concerning the implementation of their coalition agreement.

Citations:
https://www.bundesregierung.de/breg-de/aktuelles/kabinett-bestandsaufnahme-1688928

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
In some policy fields, expert commissions advise policymakers on a regular basis. Most of their members are appointed by the government or by individual ministries. In addition, ad hoc commissions are created to provide scientific advice regarding major reforms that involve complex issues, with the aim of coming to a consensus. A number of other established expert advisory bodies provide the government with expertise and advice, including 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 often has little visibility, and policymaking is heavily influenced by party positions. Nevertheless, while advisory reports do not have an immediate impact, they do have some influence on political debates within the government, the parliament and among the general public, because they are made publicly accessible.

In addition to these forms of academic advice, the federal ministries are increasingly turning to private consultancies. Between 2014 and 2018, the federal government as a whole spent more than €716 million for external advice (Handelsblatt), with the annual spending rate shown substantial annual increases. By far the largest growth in consultancy spending has come within the Ministry of Defense, followed by the Ministry of Transport and the Ministry of the Interior. In sum, costs for external advice amounted to €248 million for 2017, while estimates for 2018 show spending of nearly €300 million. These increasing consultancy budgets have been the subject of debate, with critics questioning whether these contracts are justified and transparently commissioned, and whether they may signal undue influence by consultants within the public administration.

Summing up, scholarly advice is widely available, but day-to-day policies are decided mostly on the basis of internal expertise. Moreover, party politicization of the policymaking process often dominates executive decision-making. In addition, the engagement of expert commissions or other sources of advice is often used as a means of postponing decisions rather than as a true decision-making aid.

Citations:
https://www.zeit.de/politik/deutschland/2019-07/bundesregierung-regierungsberater-extern-ausgaben-verteidigungsministerium
https://www.handelsblatt.com/politik/deutschland/haushalt-externe-berater-kosten-bundesregierung-716-millionen-euro-in-fuenf-jahren/23744432.html?ticket=ST-42962710-Xf1jBVd3VydJWWfKmyVV-ap2

Interministerial Coordination

#29

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
The Chancellery, and particularly its head, sets the agenda for cabinet meetings. However, real political power lies elsewhere. The cabinet’s agenda is negotiated in advance between the top politicians of coalition partners, and the cabinet mostly gives official approval to matters already decided by the heads of the political parties. Thus, the Chancellery will only in exceptional cases refuse items envisaged for the cabinet meetings on the basis of its own policy considerations. Generally, the heads of political parties, rather than the Chancellery, act as gatekeepers. In the current government, the degree of interministerial coordination is comparatively low.

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 generally 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 have become increasingly independent, following the preferences of the political party that heads each ministry. Each party today works to push through its own policy conception even if this may contradict that of the other coalition parties. Negotiating a commonly developed government policy is a highly contested and extraordinarily difficult process. From the perspective of the middle of the current government period, it is evident that all ministries are used to further the party politics of the individual coalition partners with an eye to the declining voter support in opinion polls.

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. One particularly interesting innovation in the area of early coordination occurred during the review period: In March 2019, the government created a Cabinet Committee for Climate Protection (“Klimakabinett”). This consists of the ministries for Economic Effairs (Peter Altmeier), for Environment (Svenja Schulze), for Transport (Andreas Scheuer), for the Interior (Horst Seehofer) and of Agriculture (Julia Glöckner), In addition, Chancellery Head Helge Braun is involved, and the body is led by Chancellor Merkel and Vice Chancellor Olaf Scholz (SPD).

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
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 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 actors (the chancellor, the vice 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. The coalition committee deals with the most controversial issues, typically yielding decisions based on 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 general, Germany has been slow to adopt e-governance mechanisms. There is as yet no special digital strategy for interministerial coordination. However, some Länder governments, such as Baden-Wuerttemberg and Brandenburg, have independently begun to digitalize their processes of interministerial coordination.

Evidence-based Instruments

#4

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, non-governmental organizations developed guidelines for sustainability assessments. In October 2016, Chancellor Merkel (re)appointed the German Council for Sustainable Development (RNE). While its recommendations have no binding powers, it did create a Sustainable Financial Strategy for the government to improve its strategic orientation.

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 NKR 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. In its 2019 annual report, the NKR strongly criticized the increasing costs of implementation. These were about €831 million in the year ending 2019, whereas the previous year they had been significantly lower.

Citations:
https://www.normenkontrollrat.bund.de/nkr-de

https://www.nachhaltigkeitsrat.de/mediathek/?type=22

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) works with a large number of different actors on various levels of the administration. Its cooperation with German states and local authorities has also intensified, in particular through the development of methodological standards for assessing compliance costs.

In its 2018 annual report, the NKR stated that the comprehensive measure of compliance costs had peaked in 2017, with costs declining by €880 million in 2018. In 2019, this tendency reversed, and compliance costs increased again by €831 million. This increase was mainly caused by the implementation of new legislation against illegal employment and misuse of welfare benefits (Normenkontrollrat 2019).

The NKR has stated critically that digitalization processes in Germany’s public administrations lag significantly behind those in other European countries, and that valuable opportunities for further cost reduction are thus being squandered.

The new “one-in one-out” rule, introduced in 2015, is intended to reduce the financial burdens imposed on enterprises. This rule means that all new costs for enterprises and state bureaucracy (the “ins”) have to be compensated for by additional regulations reducing costs by at least the same amount (the “outs”). In 2017, this rule reduced aggregate costs for enterprises by about €302 million; in 2018, between March and December, enterprises were released from additional net costs of €129 million (Bundesregierung 2019).

Summing up, the NKR’s monitoring and quantification exercises have significantly increased awareness of the bureaucratic burdens associated with legislation for companies, private households and the public administration itself.

Citations:
Bundesregierung (2019):
https://www.bundesregierung.de/breg-de/aktuelles/bessere-werkzeuge-fuer-besseres-recht-1638954

Normenkontrollrat (2019): Jahresbericht des Normenkontrollrates:
https://www.normenkontrollrat.bund.de/nkr-de/aktuelles/nationaler-normenkontrollrat-legt-jahresbericht-2019-und-gutachten-erst-der-inhalt-dann-die-paragrafen-vor-1680502

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 appointed six new members to the German Council for Sustainable Development (RNE), and reappointed the remaining nine members. This body is tasked with contributing to the implementation of the National Sustainability Strategy by identifying areas for action, developing specific project proposals and increasing awareness of the importance of sustainability issues. 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.

In 2019 Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) Index, which was jointly developed by the Bertelsmann Stiftung and the Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN), Germany is well positioned at sixth place out of 157 countries. Its ranking declined by one position compared to 2018.

Citations:
Sustainable Development Goals Index 2019:
https://www.bertelsmann-stiftung.de/de/themen/aktuelle-meldungen/2019/juni/viele-worte-wenig-taten-un-nachhaltigkeitsziele-koennten-scheitern/

https://www.nachhaltigkeitsrat.de/ueber-den-rat/mitglieder/

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. These study the causal impacts of policies based on credible experimental methods, for example, through comparisons of a treatment group with a control group. Today, thorough ex post analyses 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 such as labor-market and social security reforms (Hartz reforms), and later the introduction of minimum wages have undergone far-reaching ex post evaluations.

In December 2018, the government agreed on a program for better lawmaking and bureaucracy reduction (“Bessere Rechtsetzung und Bürokratieabbau”). Application of this program is still in the early stages. Thus, while some standards for high-quality ex post evaluation have been set for some important policy areas, use of these methods has yet to be implemented across the broader policy field.

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

Normenkontrollrat (2018):
https://www.normenkontrollrat.bund.de/nkr-de/aktuelles/bundesregierung-setzt-wichtige-impulse-fuer-buerokratieabbau-und-bessere-rechtsetzung-1558986

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. Nevertheless, neither the last nor the current CDU/CSU-SPD government made use of 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. Experts and interest groups regularly take part in parliamentary committee hearings in the course of the legislative process.

With regard to noneconomic societal actors, the German Islam Conference has been tasked 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 in this area has been made. On the contrary, conflicts between its members have increased, particularly between the government and the Turkish-Islamic Union for Religious Affairs (DiTib), and its future seems uncertain. A German Islam Conference event was scheduled for November 2019.

Citations:
Deutsche Islamkonferenz (DIK) 2019:
http://www.deutsche-islam-konferenz.de/DIK/DE/DIK/01_UeberDieDIK/01_Aktuelles/26dik2019-moscheen-fuer-integration/moscheen-fuer-integration-inhalt.html

Policy Communication

#25

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
5
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. This tendency has increased mainly because of the governing parties’ declining electoral support, the pressure of the elections upcoming in October 2021 and the increasing success of the right-wing populist AfD party and the Greens.

However, on the issue of climate change, which has risen to the top of the policy agenda, the government’s communication of its new climate-related measures (the climate package) appeared more coherent. While the package was criticized by opposition parties, it was jointly defended by the government parties. In addition, new welfare-state-related policies such as the basic pension (“Grundrente”) were – after tough negotiations – jointly communicated. Hence, there seems to have been a slight improvement compared to the dramatic controversies marking the years of the migration crisis.

Implementation

#4

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
9
The current government agreed on its coalition contract on 7 February 2018. The coalition contract comprised 175 pages and touched upon nearly all possible policy topics.

The coalition contract notes that after two years, the government is to take stock and examine the progress made to that point. Thus, in November 2019, the government came up with a positive balance sheet. A month previously, government policies were validated by a study conducted by the Bertelsmann Stiftung and the Berlin Social Science Center (WZB) that also gave the government a positive assessment. The study stressed that the government had implemented or substantially initiated more than two-thirds of the promises laid down in its coalition contract. Both parties were able to translate slightly more than 50% of their electoral promises. However, opinion polls make clear that the public is not cognizant of this high implementation rate.

Citations:
Bertelsmannstiftung (2019):
https://www.bertelsmann-stiftung.de/de/themen/aktuelle-meldungen/2019/august/besser-als-ihr-ruf-groko-setzt-ihre-versprechen-zuegig-um/

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’s preferences or with coalition agreements. 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 provides for some rules regarding when the coalition committee is to meet and who is to attend the meetings. As in previous coalitions, the committee consists of the chancellor and the vice chancellor, the leaders of parliamentary groups and party leaders (insofar as they are not the persons mentioned above). The coalition committee is informally the most important institution in resolving political disagreements within the government. Confronted with a harsh electoral decline in the 2019 state elections, the governing parties have increasingly sought to pursue their own interests through the ministries under their control, strongly undermining interministerial coordination. In some cases, ministries do not respect the coalition agreement, and have sought to push through policies that are beyond the coalition agreement. The most prominent example was the basic pension legislation proposed by Minister of Finance Scholz. His policy was explicitly not covered by the coalition agreement, but was of high political importance for the SPD. In November 2019, the coalition committee reached an agreement on that issue.

As part of the climate package, ministries are to be made responsible for climate reduction targets in the sectors under their responsibility. This is an important example in which the ministries are tasked with fulfilling the government’s overall objectives.

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.

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 March 2019, a digitalization pact (Digitalpakt) was adopted. Under this policy, the federal government will invest about €5 billion in upgrading the digital infrastructure of schools – an area that has previously been the exclusive domain of the Länder. The Länder will invest an additional €500 million into the program.

Citations:
Bundesministerium für Bildung und Forschung (2019):
https://www.bmbf.de/de/bund-und-laender-ueber-digitalpakt-schule-einig-8141.html

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 areas such as education. A certain harmonization of implementation and enforcement is achieved through a process of tight coordination between federal and state governments and particularly among the individual state governments.

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. Today all federal ministries have specific EU units; thus, some adaptation is taking place, but these adaptations tend to be separately implemented within individual ministries rather than through government-wide reform.
Federal structures present specific problems in terms of policy learning and adaptability to international and supranational developments. In general, Germany has not made serious attempts to adapt government structures to the changing national, international and transnational environment.

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 EU and other transnational and international organizations. During the years of the euro area debt crisis, the German government played a leading role in organizing and creating stabilization mechanisms. The government cooperated closely with European partners (particularly France), other countries such as the United States, and international organizations in addressing the Crimea crisis and the civil war in eastern Ukraine.

Moreover, Germany played a significant role in achieving a consensus at the Paris Climate Summit in November 2015. At the International Climate Conference in December 2018 in Katowice, Poland, however, Germany was not able to play an important role in fostering climate protection. Environmental Minister Svenja Schulze, together with some industrial and developing countries, called for greater ambition in the attendees’ climate policies. However, Germany’s credibility was impaired by the fact that it was not compliant with its own emissions-reduction targets. However, Germany took action during the current review period to reestablish itself as a climate-policy leader: Through its new climate-protection act, Germany has initiated various measures including a comprehensive CO2 price intended to reduce emissions. This policy will strengthen the country’s credibility in future international negotiations.

In the area of asylum policy, Germany is today one of the strong supporters of a joint EU approach based on solidarity and equal sharing. Clearly, the dramatic years with record numbers of refugees reaching Germany in 2015 – 2016 demonstrated to Germany that the task of refugee reception may go beyond the capabilities of a single country, even one as large and economically well-performing as Germany.

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.

Citations:
Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (FAZ) 2018)
https://www.faz.net/aktuell/politik/ausland/einigung-bei-un-klimakonferenz-in-kattowitz-15944012.html?service=printPreview.

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 self-monitoring capacities. The NKR published its last report in October 2019, in which it requested greater effort to improve laws and reduce administrative burdens (NRK 2019). Moreover, the NKR has also sought changes and better monitoring of the organizational set-up for digitalization.

Citations:
Nationaler Normenkontrollrat (NRK) (2019):
https://www.normenkontrollrat.bund.de/nkr-de/stellungnahmen

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 constitute some of the more far-reaching institutional changes of recent years, have started to have an impact on the adaptability of the federal politics. In July 2017 and March 2019, further far-reaching reforms relating to the financial relations between the federal level and the states were adopted.

Citations:
Deutscher Bundestag (2018):
Entwurf eines Gesetzes zur Änderung des Grundgesetzes (Artikel 104c, 104d, 125c, 143e); BT.-Drs. 19/3440.
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