The German Parliament and EU affairs

01-07-2020

The Federal Republic of Germany has a parliamentary system consisting of the Bundestag and the Bundesrat, established in 1949. The Bundestag is the main legislative body, which determines all laws at federal level. It does so with the participation of a ‘second chamber’, the Bundesrat, which represents the 16 constituent states (Bundesländer). Competencies are shared between the Federation and the Länder, with the Länder having the right to legislate insofar as the Grundgesetz (Basic Law) does not confer legislative power on the Federation. Federal law takes precedence over Länder law. Areas of exclusive federal legislation, such as foreign policy, defence and trade, are governed at federal level. In areas of concurrent legislation, the Länder can adopt legislation as long as there is no existing federal legislation. Over time, federal legislation has been expanding. Only in some areas, for example in education, culture, police and administrative law, have the Länder retained their exclusive legislative powers. This briefing is part of an EPRS series on national parliaments and EU affairs. It aims to provide an overview of the way the national parliaments of EU Member States are structured and how they process, scrutinise and engage with EU legislation. It also provides information on relevant publications of the national parliaments.

The Federal Republic of Germany has a parliamentary system consisting of the Bundestag and the Bundesrat, established in 1949. The Bundestag is the main legislative body, which determines all laws at federal level. It does so with the participation of a ‘second chamber’, the Bundesrat, which represents the 16 constituent states (Bundesländer). Competencies are shared between the Federation and the Länder, with the Länder having the right to legislate insofar as the Grundgesetz (Basic Law) does not confer legislative power on the Federation. Federal law takes precedence over Länder law. Areas of exclusive federal legislation, such as foreign policy, defence and trade, are governed at federal level. In areas of concurrent legislation, the Länder can adopt legislation as long as there is no existing federal legislation. Over time, federal legislation has been expanding. Only in some areas, for example in education, culture, police and administrative law, have the Länder retained their exclusive legislative powers. This briefing is part of an EPRS series on national parliaments and EU affairs. It aims to provide an overview of the way the national parliaments of EU Member States are structured and how they process, scrutinise and engage with EU legislation. It also provides information on relevant publications of the national parliaments.