Welcome

How does the Federal Government make decisions on European policy?

Article

Nowadays European policy covers all policy fields. To be an effective advocate of Germany’s interests in Brussels, we need efficient policy coordination within the Federal Government.

The making of German government policy on Europe

The Federal Government believes it is important to feed its position in to the various

Minister of State for Europe - Michael Roth
Minister of State for Europe - Michael Roth© Photothek/Köhler
bodies in Brussels as early as possible.

To this end, the responsible Federal ministry coordinates a joint German position on each individual issue. The sooner this happens, and the more coherent the Federal Government’s stance in Brussels, the greater the chances of helping to shape decisions in the German interest.

Federal Foreign Office plays coordinating role

The Federal Foreign Office has the task of ensuring that Germany presents a coherent position on policy on Europe. The main coordination body is the State Secretaries Committee for European Affairs, which discusses fundamental European policy issues and coordinates major EU topics of interministerial interest. The Committee is chaired by the Minister of State for Europe at the Federal Foreign Office, Michael Roth. Minister of State Roth also attends the weekly Cabinet meetings, at which European policy is always one of the items on the agenda.

Below the level of the State Secretaries Committee for European Affairs, the European Affairs Directors-General from the various ministries have the task of raising awareness in their ministries of politically relevant and/or controversial dossiers, as well as of identifying and eliminating possible differences of opinion between the different ministries at an early stage. This group is co‑chaired by the Federal Foreign Office and the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy (BMWi).

Each Federal ministry has a Head of EU Affairs, who is the main point of contact on European policy within the ministry. The Heads of EU Affairs meet at irregular intervals under the chairmanship of the head of the EU Coordination Group at the Federal Foreign Office to discuss basic questions in coordinating policy on Europe and to clarify procedural issues.

The EU Coordination Group at the Federal Foreign Office ensures that Germany's embassies in the EU member states receive comprehensive, specific, up‑to‑date information on European policy actions. Specially appointed officers at Germany’s embassies follow the European policy debate in their host country and report on the focuses and positions of its European policy. They also supplement Germany’s negotiating efforts in Brussels by directly lobbying governments and persuading the public of Germany’s interests, as well as explaining the reasons for German positions.