The Federal Government’s round of state secretaries on reducing bureaucracy is aiming for a cabinet decision in August on projects that are intended to relieve citizens and companies of unnecessary requirements and paperwork. As can be seen from a resolution of the round table last Wednesday, the ministries also want to take up proposals from associations that recently took part in a survey by the Federal Ministry of Justice on the greatest bureaucratic obstacles in their key points for the planned Bureaucracy Relief Act IV.

Of the 442 suggestions collected, the Federal Statistical Office sorted 157 suggestions into Category 1. They are considered “potentially suitable for direct legal measures by the departments or in another bureaucracy relief law”.

In the decision, which is available to the German Press Agency, the ministries are committed to the common goal of “identifying potential for improvement and exploiting it to the greatest possible extent in order to reduce unnecessary bureaucracy and provide noticeable relief without sacrificing the necessary protection standards”. The state secretaries also agreed to establish monitoring of the individual proposals with the Federal Statistical Office.

“Urgent need for action”

“Bureaucracy not only burdens many companies in Germany, but almost all parts of society – there is an urgent need for action,” said Parliamentary State Secretary Benjamin Strasser, who has been appointed by the federal government as coordinator for better legislation and bureaucracy reduction. The FDP politician emphasized that the fact that the implementation of the associations’ proposals was regularly checked was “a real system change in reducing bureaucracy”.

The changes from the Third Bureaucracy Relief Act, which was passed under the black-red federal government, came into force between January 2020 and January 2022. These included, for example, the introduction of electronic notification of incapacity to work and digital alternatives to the paper registration forms in the hotel industry. After that, founders only had to submit their advance sales tax returns quarterly – instead of monthly as before.

High expectations of a “practice check”

It is important that the new bureaucracy relief law is presented this year, said the parliamentary state secretary in the Federal Ministry of Economics, Michael Kellner (Greens). The committee also agreed that there was a clear expectation on the part of business and citizens that one could not just rely on this law. The new “practice check” is also important.

“We are currently rolling out this important, because it is practical, instrument for a number of central topics such as heat pumps, sustainability reporting, founders and reporting obligations,” said Kellner. The coalition agreement between the SPD, the Greens and the FDP states the following about the “practice check”: “The federal government will develop a systematic procedure for checking the bureaucratic burden of laws and regulations”.

The Federation of German Industries (BDI) calls for courage and speed in reducing bureaucracy. “The broad response to the association survey by the Federal Ministry of Justice shows manifest frustration in the economy, because excessive regulation – despite the turn of the century and Germany’s speed – is like mildew over Germany,” said Holger Loesch, Deputy General Manager of the BDI, to the State Secretaries last Wednesday before their meeting Away. This excessive regulation threatens to delay, prevent or force investments abroad. The development of the hydrogen infrastructure, which is necessary in terms of climate policy and business, is also being paralyzed by “a toxic combination of legal requirements for immission control, spatial planning and construction planning”.