Participatory Creation of Regulatory Policy (DE0023)
Action Plan: Germany Action Plan 2019-2021
Action Plan Cycle: 2019
Lead Institution: Federal Chancellery and relevant ministries
Support Institution(s): All federal ministries; the Federal Chancellery (Citizen-Centred Government and Digital State Divisions) Federal Government Commissioner for Culture and the Media, Federal Office of Justice (Promulgation Division)
Policy AreasOpen Regulations, Public Participation
What is the public problem that the commitment will address?
To preserve the high quality of our law, we need to further develop it systematically and
cautiously, also with a view to future requirements. In some cases, provisions are not
perceived as feasible in practice. Law should be made simple, understandable and effective.
What is the commitment?
The Federal Government wants to listen from an earlier stage, work together more closely
with people affected by measures, and test out measures before adopting them. The
Federal Government’s steadfast aim must be to understand clearly what its new regulations
mean in terms of the effort they require from individuals, companies and authorities (e.g.
practicability and efficacy). It also wants to make regulations more comprehensible and
more accessible (e.g. the editorial staff for legal language should be involved at an earlier
How will the commitment contribute to solving the public problem?
Exchange with those affected by and involved in regulations is of vital importance for better
Why is this commitment relevant to OGP values?
By strengthening early participation in and testing of regulatory initiatives, the Federal
Government will more effectively involve affected citizens in its decision-making processes.
Bolstering the editorial staff for legal language and introducing electronic promulgation of
laws will make law easier to understand and more accessible.
IRM Midterm Status Summary
8. Better regulation through participation and testing
“The Federal Government wants to listen from an earlier stage, work together more closely with people affected by measures, and test out measures before adopting them. The Federal Government’s steadfast aim must be to understand clearly what its new regulations mean in terms of the effort they require from individuals, companies and authorities (e.g. practicability and efficacy). It also wants to make regulations more comprehensible and more accessible (e.g. the editorial staff for legal language should be involved at an earlier stage).”
8.1. Development of a strategy to strengthen early participation in policy initiatives and legislation on the basis of positive practical examples such as the establishment of central consulting hours to advise ministries on participation projects and an interministerial network on participation in legislation to facilitate experience sharing.
8.2. Practical testing of regulatory alternatives in suitable cases with affected individuals, companies and participating agencies or bodies responsible for self-administration tasks. At least five practical tests or pilot projects (e.g. to make laws comprehensible in cooperation with the legal editorial office of the Federal Ministry of Justice and Consumer Protection)
8.3. At least eight training courses for employees on early participation and testing (including on “Understanding, Developing, Testing” – Division 612, Citizen-Centred Government – and on early participation)
8.4. Evaluation of the results of the 3rd Life Situation Survey of the Federal Statistical Office on behalf of the Federal Government and derivation of suggestions for improvement together with experts, practitioners and affected people; publication of the results (online and offline)
8.5. Electronic promulgation of laws and free digital access to the Federal Law Gazette are in the process of implementation
8.6. Improvement of information about participation processes at federal level via an online presence and preparations for a Federal Government participation platform that serves the transparent participation of citizens and associations
Editorial Note: For the complete text of this commitment, please see Germany’s action plan at: https://www.opengovpartnership.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/09/Germany_Action-Plan_2019-2021_EN.pdf.
This commitment consists of activities selected from the federal government’s 2018 Work Program on Better Regulation and Bureaucracy Reduction.  It seeks to improve the accessibility and user friendliness of laws, as well as the timeliness and inclusivity of public participation in the rule-making process.  Expanding public participation in rule making is directly relevant to the OGP value of civic participation. Moreover, making laws and regulations more comprehensible and freely available online is relevant to access to information.
Citizens and businesses in Germany report a relatively high level of satisfaction about the integrity, trustworthiness, and fairness of administrative services. However, they are rather critical about the understandability of laws, regulations, and administrative processes.  Additionally, national and international observers note that Germany can do more to involve stakeholders in the early stages of the rule-making process and work toward a more inclusive and participatory policy-formation process.  In comparative assessments of regulatory processes in 2018, referring to the state of play in 2017, the country scores above the OECD average on impact assessments and ex-post evaluations, but below the OECD average on stakeholder engagement in developing regulations.  The joint discussion with stakeholders of results from the 3rd Life Situation survey (Milestone 8.4) repeat an activity that was conducted between December 2017 and June 2018 when multistakeholder workshops discussed results of the 2nd Life Situation survey. Six concrete suggestions from the workshops were adopted by the government. 
As outlined above, the comprehensibility of rules and administrative processes is important for both citizens and business in Germany. Beyond streamlining administrative procedures, simplifying laws is a prerequisite for inclusive democracy. When laws and regulations are incomprehensible to all but specialized experts, trust in democracy can drop  and the practicality of their legislative outputs suffers.  Forty-percent of Germans report that they consult the texts of laws when they face a legal issue.  Developing a strategy for early participation in policy initiatives (Milestone 8.1), and training government officials on public participation (Milestone 8.3) could improve public involvement in policymaking.
It is important to test public comprehension of draft rules and simplify legal language (Milestone 8.2) as well as use public feedback to improve the user-friendliness of administrative procedures (Milestone 8.4). However, any improvements will depend on the scale of the planned activities. The stipulation of a minimum of eight training programmes are unlikely to affect large-scale change.
Currently, the full text of enacted laws and regulations are available online at a number of different official and unofficial websites, but related cross-links and amendments can be difficult to trace. Free electronic access to the Federal Law Gazette is an important step toward improving accessibility to a comprehensive source of the official laws of Germany, provided the focus of implementation is on user-friendliness (Milestone 8.5).
Taken together, these activities could improve participation in rule-making as well as in access to and usability of legal information. It could also strengthen the institutional capacity to adopt public comprehension as a tenet for forming rules and regulations and thus build on the recent trend to subject a growing set of draft rules and regulations to a readability check.  While most of the commitment’s activities are pilots, they could lay the foundation for expansive improvements in the future. Also, if the participation platform not only facilitates participation but does so in a way that enables public consultations earlier and in a more inclusive manner, the possible changes from the commitment could be significant.
During implementation, the Federal Chancellery could encourage ministries to add explanatory notes to legal texts and develop user-friendly guides on the scope of laws. It could also encourage ministries to develop their own guides on how to participate in the early stages of planning new laws, particularly during the pre-drafting time.
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