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Federation and Länder

How do the Federal Government and the German Länder cooperate in promoting science and research? Who is responsible for the promotion of research and who for the higher education sector?

The cooperation between the Federal Government and the Länder

How do the Federal Government and the German Länder cooperate in promoting science and research? Who is responsible for the promotion of research and who for the higher education sector?

The task of promoting science and research is not just shared by the state, industry and society; in fact, the Federal Government and the Länder work hand in hand in this respect. The amendment to the Basic Law of 23 December 2014 brought about enhanced opportunities for cooperation between the Federal Government and the Länder, thereby paving the way for the future framework of the German science system.

In Germany’s federal system, the responsibility for promoting science and research only falls into the exclusive remit of the Federal Government in a few cases. For example, the Federal Government is invested with legislative powers in the regulation of educational and training grants and the promotion of research (Art. 74 1 (13) GG); by contrast, the higher education sector is predominantly the responsibility of the Länder (Art. 70 GG).

Nevertheless, pursuant to Art. 91b (1) GG and as a result of agreements on the promotion of science, research and teaching, the Federal Government and the Länder may agree to cooperate in cases of supra-regional importance.

The Federal Government/Länder agreements aim to underpin the joint emphases and profile development, thereby increasing the achievement capacity of the German science landscape. Around ten years ago, the Federal Government and the Länder together launched the science pacts – the Initiative for Excellence, the Pact for Research and Innovation and the Higher Education Pact – to meet these goals. Thanks to their major impetus, the science pacts have tangibly enhanced the performance and capabilities of the German science system. In December 2014, therefore, Chancellor Merkel and the leaders of the Länder governments agreed to an extension of the pacts.