“(…) the reporting obligation (…) can also be fulfilled (…) by the person being accommodated using their identity card (…), their eID card (…) or their residence permit (…) for on-site reading.” Article 1, Paragraph 1a Bureaucracy Relief Act III

Fully filled file folders and up to eight years of processing time – without them there is currently no new wind turbine in Germany. This is because, for example, each of the approximately 15 heavy transport vehicles required for construction must be approved by the federal, state and local authorities, depending on the route. And each approval includes a folder of up to 200 pages. Federal Justice Minister Marco Buschmann (FDP) recently diagnosed companies in Germany with a “bureaucratic burnout”.

The Bureaucracy Relief Act IV is expected to provide relief by the first half of 2024 at the latest. The four already make it clear: Buschmann is not the first minister to try to reduce the burden. The topic has already produced three bureaucracy relief laws (BEG) between 2016 and 2019. They should lead to less paperwork, especially for small and medium-sized companies, because bureaucracy costs companies billions every year.

A practical example: Until 2020, accommodation providers had to have a registration form filled out manually upon check-in. BEG III made it possible to implement this reporting requirement electronically, which means relief of EUR 52 million annually for the hospitality industry. This is what the National Regulatory Control Council, an independent expert committee for monitoring the reduction of bureaucracy, writes in its 2020 annual report.

The crux of the matter: new regulations mean that the relief that has been created so far will evaporate. At the forefront are the supply chain law and the recalculation of property tax. In the latter case, the bureaucracy costs for the economy are estimated to be up to 100 million euros. It currently follows the pattern of “two steps forward and (at least) one step back”. “This is a fight against symptoms and not a systemic fight against the causes,” criticizes Christoph Knill, an administrative and political scientist at the Ludwig Maximilians University in Munich.

The bureaucracy cost index that the black-yellow government introduced in 2012 also shows how messy the situation is. The Federal Statistical Office is intended to map the burden that government regulations place on companies. Starting value: 100. The lowest value to date was 96.96 in January 2022. The current value: 98.41. Hence the burnout.

Test result inadequate

Note: This article first appeared on Capital.de.