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2016 Annual report Volume II No. 05 - The Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation, Building and Nuclear Safety does not adequately oversee the Konrad Final Repository

The Ministry has not been fully committed to contributing to the speedy and cost-effective construction of the Konrad Final Repository for low- and medium-level radioactive waste. It exercised insufficient technical oversight and failed to resolve conflicts between the project participants. The Ministry should in future monitor the project more closely and take prompt remedial action when difficulties emerge.

Up to 2016, the Federal Office for Radiation Protection was responsible for the construction and operation of final repositories, subject to technical oversight by the Ministry. In 2008, the Federal Office commissioned the German Specialized Engineering Company for Final Disposal of Radioactive Waste (DBE) to construct the Konrad Final Repository for low- and medium-level radioactive waste in a former mine. This was based on a contract concluded between the Federal Government and the Company. In mid-2016, the Legislature decided to reorganise the tasks related to final storage. In future, a federal limited company is to be in charge of constructing and operating final repositories.

The Ministry has not been fully committed to contributing to the speedy and cost-effective construction of the Konrad Repository for low- and medium-level radioactive waste. Even nine years after construction began, the Ministry cannot reliably assess when the Konrad Repository will be completed and what its total cost will be. According to current but not robust estimates it is to be completed nine years later and to cost €1.6 billion more than originally planned.

Due to differing interpretations by the Federal Office and DBE of the contract concluded between the Federal Government and DBE, there was disagreement about what tasks are to be performed by DBE. We attribute the time slips in this project also to the conflicts protracted for years between the Federal Office and DBE. The Ministry should have exercised its technical supervision more strictly and resolved the conflicts.

The Ministry admitted that the time overruns resulted in considerable cost overruns. It attributed this to special project risks given that the Konrad Repository was constructed in a former mine. In addition, the Ministry stated that it generally exercised “remote technical oversight”, giving its subordinate agencies such as the Federal Office sufficient leeway for discharging their functions self-reliantly and intervening by means of instructions only when major policy or technical issues were involved.

We uphold our assessment. The Ministry has for years been aware of the potentially differing interpretations of the contract concluded between the Federal Government and DBE and of the conflicts between the project participants. Nevertheless, it did not take rigorous leadership for steering the project. With its “remote technical oversight”, the Ministry failed to pay due regard to the policy and financial importance of this project. This has at least favoured the time and cost overruns. We expect the Ministry to monitor the project more closely in future and to take prompt remedial action whenever difficulties arise.

 

2016 Report – Implementation of energy transition

“Energy policy from a single source“ is the slogan used by the Federal Ministry for Economics and Energy to implement the national task of energy transition. At federal government level, the Federal Ministry for Economics and Energy has assumed lead responsibility for overall coordination of this task. However, the Federal Ministry can do more to adequately perform this role. Currently no coordinated exchange is taking place either within the Ministry or with other government departments or the German federal states. Apart from that, the Federal government does not have an overview of the financial impact of energy transition. Key questions such as “How much does energy transition cost the government?” or “How much should energy transition cost the government?” have not been asked and remain unanswered. The federal government cannot specify what impact individual energy policy measures have and how efficient they are. The strategic considerations governing energy transition give lower priority to the goals of energy security and affordability as compared to environmental impact.

The Bundesrechnungshof’s report on the steps taken to implement energy transition provides a large number of suggestions and recommendations for improvement.  On 28 April 2017, the parliamentary Public Accounts Committee, a sub-committee of the Budget Committee held a concluding debate on the report. The Public Accounts Committee’s proposed resolution has taken up nearly all of the recommendations made by the Bundesrechnungshof.

2016 Report – Implementation of energy transition

Dec 21, 2016

0 Summary

0.1

We audited the steps taken by the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy to implement energy transition. On the basis of our audit findings we developed the following audit conclusions:

0.2

The Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy has assumed lead responsibility in this task and ensures overall coordination. According to the Federal Ministry, energy transition is a major national challenge, but lead responsibility lies solely with the Federal Ministry. We consider it appropriate that responsibilities are merged and that coordination and lead responsibility is assigned to one government department. However, our audit findings show that the Federal Ministry can do more to perform its overall coordinator function. No coordinated exchange is taking place either within the Federal Ministry or with other government departments or the German federal states. The Federal Ministry does not have an overview of the financial impact of energy transition. Key questions such as “How much does energy transition cost the government?” or “How much should energy transition cost the government?” have not been asked and remain unanswered (numbers 3 to 5).

0.3

So far, the Federal Ministry has failed to establish an appropriate grant controlling. The Federal Ministry does not evaluate the results of its funding programmes, although we repeatedly highlighted this shortcoming. The shortcomings become apparent in the way in which the Federal Ministry implements its funding programmes. For instance, inefficient funding programmes have been launched, extended and increased. The Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy has not ensured that programmes with little efficiency which at the same time add little value to energy transition are phased out and that the funds thus released can be put to better use. We therefore perceive the risk that bringing energy transition forward will become an ever more costly exercise. The Federal Government and the Federal Ministry, being its overall coordinator, have not yet managed to strike the right balance between ambitious climate protection goals and efficient grant-funding programmes (numbers 7 and 8).

0.4

To achieve energy transition, Federal Government has relied on the goals of the energy policy triangle – environmental compatibility, energy safety and security and affordability. The annual monitoring report on energy transition issued by the Federal Ministry shows that the two goals “energy safety and security” and “affordability” are neglected (number 6).

0.5

On the basis of audit findings, the German SAI has developed the following recommendations that are addressed to the Federal Government and specifically to the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy as the body having lead responsibility:

The Federal Government needs to pool information centrally to obtain a comprehensive overview of the financial impacts of energy transition. A reliable decision about how to enhance and limit energy transition can only be made if those in charge have a complete overview over its impacts. We recommend that this comprehensive overview be included in the annual monitoring reports on energy transition issued by the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy and be regularly updated.

The monitoring of energy transition needs to be enhanced with regard to the targeted structure and impact analysis. The goals of energy security and affordability therefore need to be specified, evaluated and quantified to the same extent as the adequately quantified environmental compatibility target. In particular, cost ceilings need to be set for energy transition. Energy safety and security and affordability need to be perceived as limiting factors for further enhancing energy transition.

Measurable targets need to be set that cover all aspects of implementing energy transition. Also the effectiveness and efficiency of the steps taken need to be monitored continuously. Furthermore, the comparability of programmes needs to be ensured (e.g. CO2 savings per funding).

Deadweight effects need to be avoided and inefficient programmes need to be phased out.

The results of energy transition monitoring need to be used as input for designing the future funding strategy. Grant monitoring in connection with energy transition needs to be carried out on a comprehensive basis.

 

2016 Annual report Volume I No. 26 - The Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture needs to discontinue or refocus export promotion

In 2010, the Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture launched a programme to promote exports of agricultural goods for which there has hardly been any demand. The Ministry should analyse the need for its promotion programme and either discontinue or refocus the programme in line with measurable objectives.

The German agriculture and agro-industrial sector generates 25 per cent of its turnover abroad. In 2009, the export of agricultural products collapsed. In the following year, the Ministry launched a programme to promote export activities of the German agriculture and agro-industrial sector. The aim was to increase the number of 6,000 export-relevant companies and to maintain existing jobs or create new jobs. The programme focused on supporting planned activities of agricultural enterprises by awarding grants totalling up to 50 per cent of the costs.

We audited the performance of the promotion programme. We found that the German agriculture and agro-industrial sector had been able to constantly increase exports since 2010, reaching a peak at €67 billion in 2014. Within this period of time, hardly any programme funding was applied for. Since the number of private sector promotion programmes was small the Federal Ministry launched more and more own projects. Above all, it invited industry representatives to participate in business travels abroad at largely no costs. The private sector was reluctant to accept this kind of assistance so that the Federal Ministry even commissioned an external provider to contact potential participants.

We recommended that the programme be discontinued.

 

2016 Annual report Volume I No. 25 - Information campaign to reduce food waste – inadequately prepared and performance not measurable

The Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture implemented a nation-wide information campaign to fight the disposal of still edible food without thoroughly analysing the causes and on a weak data basis. The Federal Ministry was not able to show that the campaign actually entailed a reduction in food waste.

The Ministry should only implement information campaigns that are well prepared and based on measureable objectives - which is the prerequisite for a sound evaluation of project results.

The Ministry launched a nation-wide information campaign to fight food waste. From early 2012 to year-end 2015, the Ministry spent some €3 million for that purpose.

A study on the quantity of food waste in Germany was contracted out by the Ministry. The study showed that in Germany some 11 million tonnes of food were thrown away each year. Private households accounted for most of the food waste. However, the study highlighted that data basis was rather weak, particularly because retail enterprises had not provided sufficient data.

The Ministry evaluated the results of the campaign by carrying out several surveys on its visibility.

We audited the campaign and pointed out the inadequate preparation. Since the Ministry’s campaign aimed at reducing food waste it should have started by collecting robust data on the quantity and causes of food waste. The Ministry can only prove the success of the campaign by supplying tangible evidence of food waste reduction. It is doubtful whether the assumed benefits of awareness rising (high campaign visibility) can be used to justify the costs incurred. We found shortcomings in how the campaign was run and thus recommended improvements. The Ministry should launch information campaigns only after performing a thorough problem analysis and establishing specific and measurable performance criteria.

 

2015 Annual report No. 29 - “Regional advice on bioenergy” model project terminated

Following our advice, the Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture terminated the model project for regional advice on bioenergy. Thus, the funding of advisory services provided by twelve regional bioenergy advice centres and the services were partly inefficient.

The Ministry has federal budget funds of about €50 million at its disposal for research and development concerning the use of renewable resources and for public relations activities in this field. It used these funds to give grants to regional bioenergy advice centres as a model project. These advice centres are to provide advice mainly to farming and forestry businesses on the production and use on bioenergy and to inform the public about the cultivation and use of non-food crops. Between September 2009 and year-end 2012, the Ministry gave grants of €4.2 million for this purpose. It commissioned the Agency for Renewable Resources to implement the grant-funding.

We found that the Ministry

  • failed to define measurable goals and
  • show that the project was appropriate and necessary to contribute to federal mission performance.

 

The Agency for Renewable Resources

  • did not select the grantees in accordance with uniform criteria and
  • tolerated that grantees awarded contracts non-competitively and had submitted erroneous accounts.

We alerted the Ministry to these weaknesses and demanded that the model project be terminated, cases of irregularity investigated and steps taken to obtain refunds.

The Ministry followed our advice and terminated the model project. It reported to us that the grantees had refunded grants in response to our findings. Furthermore, the Agency had examined other grants and claimed refunds. Moreover, the Ministry told us that it had imposed organisational changes on the Agency with a view to ensuring that budgetary law is complied with.

 

2015 Annual report No. 25 - Trust fund of more than €100 million no longer necessary

The pension fund for farmers has managed a federal trust fund since 1952. Since 2005, this trust fund has been used to promote agricultural innovations. The Federal Government performs the same task with own programmes and budget funds. We recommended that the trust fund be dissolved and transferred to the federal budget to eliminate duplicative structures. The Federal Government could increase its budget by more than €100 million.

The pension fund has managed a federal trust fund since 1952. The purpose of this fund is to promote innovations in agriculture, forestry, horticulture and fishery. It amounted to €109 million at year-end 2014.

We examined how the pension fund managed the trust fund. We found that marketable products or procedures were promoted as innovation in about one third of the cases we looked at. These included, for example, the development of a seal for wines even though there had already been six comparable seals on the market.

The Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture also promotes agricultural innovations. As it is a priority for the Ministry, it provided federal funds amounting to €59 million in 2014.

We note that the trust fund is only adequate if the task can be performed more efficiently than if it is made by the Federal Government. This is not the case. We therefore requested the Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture to have the trust fund dissolved and transferred to the Federal Government, which would eliminate duplicative structures and increase the federal budget by more than €100 million.

We expect the Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture to ensure a speedy amendment of the applicable regulation.

 

2013 Annual report No. 51 - Armed Forces purchase unsuitable green electricity certificates for €3.5 million

The Armed Forces purchased green electricity certificates worth more than €3.5 million, which were not suitable for increasing the share of green electricity in the power consumption of their installations. The certificates merely served to declare the conventional electricity consumed as green electricity. The purchase of the certificate did not contribute to meeting the climate protection goals of the Federal Government.

By means of green electricity certificates, producers of energy can market the value added of their green electricity separate from the physical electricity. If, e.g. a customer purchases green electricity certificates, he is permitted to re-label electricity generated from nuclear fuel or coal as green electricity.

In the years 2010-2012 the Armed Forces purchased green electricity certificates at a total cost of €3.5 million. Their intention was to increase the share of green electricity in the power consumed on their real estate and to support the Federal Government in meeting the climate protection goals. The Federal Environment Ministry and the Federal Environmental Agency considered green electricity certificates as unsuitable for proving compliance with environmental requirements. Therefore, they discouraged contracting authorities from purchasing green electricity certificates. Nevertheless, three Armed Forces entities purchased green electricity certificates. One entity actually purchased so many green electricity certificates that it nominally used green electricity in excess of its actual power consumption. The green electricity certificates purchased by the Armed Forces almost exclusively related to green electricity from existing hydro-electric power stations in Norway. No electricity from there flows into the German green power grid. Thus, the real share of green electricity in the power consume on Armed Forces real estate has not increased. Thus, the purchase of the certificates was ineffective. Moreover, the purchase of green electricity certificates for 100 per cent of the power actually consumed could not be justified in terms of cost-effectiveness, since 30 per cent of the power actually consumed were green electricity.

The Federal Defence Ministry admitted the weaknesses of the green electricity certificates. Nevertheless, it announced that it would continue to purchase them. It pointed out that it did not concur with the opinion of the Federal Environment Ministry and the Federal Environmental Agency concerning the promotion of green electricity.

The arguments of the Federal Defence Ministry have not convinced us. We cannot see why the advice of the Environment Ministry and its subordinate Agency should not be valid for the Armed Forces. To us, it is a matter of particular concern that, while admitting the weaknesses of the green electricity certificates, it wishes to continue purchasing them. The Federal Defence Ministry has spent budget funds in the range of millions of euros on an ineffective measure.

We expect the Federal Defence Ministry to renounce future purchases of green electricity certificates or similar instruments and to take regard to the advice of the Federal Environment Ministry about the cost-effective purchase of green electricity.

 

 

2001 Report drafted by the President of the Bundesrechnungshof in her capacity as Federal Performance Commissioner - Volume 08 - Structural and procedural organisation of food safety and inspection  

Summary

1 Motive, subject and method of this study

At the request of the Federal Chancellor, the Federal Performance Commissioner expressed her willingness, in late 2000, to analyse the weaknesses in the administrative structures and procedures of consumer health protection that were revealed by the spread of BSE (bovine spongiform encephalopathy) and to make recommendations for improvement.

The study was limited to the area of food safety and, in particular, looked into the following organisational issues in order to establish:

  •  whether the Federation performs its tasks in this field completely and efficiently,
  • how the Federation has organised the mission performance and
  • what arrangements are in place for the German Federation's participation in the European Union (EU) and for its cooperation with Germany's federal states.

The analysis of the existing weaknesses is based on expertise from the farming community, from consumer protection organisations, the business community and academia. A Bundesrechnungshof Task Force was supported by an External Working Group made up of experts from the Federal Ministry of Consumer Protection, Food and Agriculture, the Federal Ministry for Health, from the competent ministries of the German Federal States of Lower Saxony, Mecklenburg-West Pomerania and Bavaria as well as from the European Commission. Furthermore, an advisory panel had been set up staffed by senior representatives from consumer protection organisations, the farming and business communities and academia.

The analysis undertaken was based especially on papers submitted by the German Federal Government, the German federal states and the European Commission as well as on suggestions made by the Advisory Panel. Due to the tight time frame, the Task Force largely waived the collection of audit evidence by field work.

The report points out many weaknesses in the organisation of the Federation and in the cooperation between the Federation and the federal states. It points out fundamental approaches by which these weaknesses can be overcome. It does not include any recommendations on the organisational arrangements in the spheres of the EU and the German federal states because the latter two areas are outside the remit of the Federation. To implement the strategic recommendations, further studies and decisions by the Federation will be necessary as well as, in many cases, agreements between the Federation and the federal states.

2 Institutional framework

The public sector, i.e. the Federation, the federal states and local government, the farming and business communities and the consumers are cornerstones in the organisational framework for food safety in Germany, and each of them has specific responsibilities. It is up to the consumer to make responsible buying decisions. However, to make informed decisions they need to rely on adequate food safety being provided by legislation, regulations and inspections and on impartial information about potential foodborne health hazards being available to them. The European Union, the Federation and the federal states are responsible for legislation and regulations as well as inspections. Within the legal framework, it is up to the farming and business communities to have their own controls in place to ensure adequate standards of food safety.

The German public sector has to perform its tasks in compliance with international rules (especially those of the EU) and has to work with organisational patterns that reflect Germany's Federation system.

The fundamental proposals for restructuring the delivery of food safety services by the public sector (especially within the remit of the Federation) are therefore based on the institutional framework described below:

  • Germany's obligations as a member of various international organisations and/or a party to various international treaties such as the World Trade Organisation (WTO), the United Nations' World Health Organisation (WHO) and Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO).
  • Development of the EU's structural and procedural organisation in the field of consumer protection policy. Within the European Commission, pertinent responsibilities have been concentrated within the Directorate General "Health and Consumer Protection". Member States' compliance with Community law concerning food safety is monitored by the European Commission, especially by its Food and Veterinary Office located in Dublin. A European Food Authority is to be established with responsibility for identifying and assessing food-related health risks and for providing scientific advice to policymakers. Given the various channels of cooperation with the European institutions, efficient structures and procedures for delivering food safety services in Germany need to be compatible with EU structures and procedures.
  • In Germany, the Federation is only partly responsible for public-sector food safety services (especially for federal legislation and participation in EU policymaking). Under the German Constitution, the bulk of enforcement work is incumbent on Germany's federal states. This allocation of responsibilities between the Federation and the states must therefore be taken into account when making decisions about the structural and procedural organisation of food safety services at the Federation and federal state levels of the German public sector.

3 Functions of the public sector

The public sector's core functions in the field of food safety are risk management, risk assessment and risk communication.

  • Risk management comprises both the functions of promulgating pertinent legislation and regulations and of enforcement, especially inspection. The Federation (in this context comprising also Parliament) has the primary responsibility for food safety legislation and regulation at national level and for adequate participation in European food safety legislation. Under the allocation of government powers between the federal and state levels provided for in the German Constitution, Germany's federal states are essentially responsible for ensuring full and correct compliance by those concerned (primary producers, industrial producers of foodstuffs and feedstuffs, wholesalers and retailers). They have to ensure compliance by suitable and adequate inspections. The Federation has the overall responsibility to ensure that European Community law and German federal legislation and regulations are consistently applied in all German states.
  • Risk assessment is to provide scientific findings on health hazards associated with the consumption of specific foodstuffs, the degree of probability with which such hazards are likely to materialise and their possible extent. Such risk analysis is indispensable for providing advice to policymakers and administrators at both the Federation and federal state levels.
  • Risk communication is to familiarise decision-makers with important findings developed by risk assessment as part of proactive policy advice and, where necessary, to explain these findings to the general public. To perform these core functions completely and effectively, efficient structures and procedures have to be established at the Federation level.

These structures must demonstrate the Federation's objectives

  • to discharge its duties vis-à-vis the EU in an effective manner,
  • to fulfil its role according to the allocation of powers provided for in Germany's federal constitutional system and
  • to exercise adequately its overall responsibility for ensuring food safety throughout Germany.

 

4 Fundamental recommendations

4.1 Structures and procedures of risk management

4.1.1 At the level of Federation departments

(1) By organisational order of the Federal Chancellor dated 22 January 2001, essential responsibilities concerning consumer health protection were transferred from the Federal Ministry for Health and the Ministry of Economics and Technology to the Federal Ministry for Consumer Protection, Food and Agriculture. While this implied some concentration of Federation responsibilities within a single Federation department, other departments (above all the Federal Ministry for Health and the Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety) still have responsibilities closely related to food safety issues.

In the interest of a more effective delivery of public services in the field of consumer health protection, the Federal Government is hereby advised to decide on ways of efficiently concentrating related responsibilities and rounding off the remit of the Federal Ministry for Consumer Protection, Agriculture and Food with a view to minimising inter-agency coordination problems.

(2) The Federal Chancellor's organisational order has given the Federal Ministry for Consumer Protection, Food and Agriculture the core responsibility within the Federal Government for food safety issues. The Ministry's primary task will be to reach the Federation's goal mentioned in the 2001 Agriculture Report, i.e. to make sure that, in the sensitive areas of agricultural and food policy, consumer protection is to have preference over business interests. To do so, the said Ministry will have to thoroughly restructure its divisions and to enhance the concentration of responsibilities for consumer protection and food safety issues. It will be expedient to establish within the Ministry a special division with a newly-defined remit to deal with strategic issues while another division should be given the remit to deal with the operative aspects of consumer and food issues. The division on strategy should be in charge of formulating policy, steering and coordinating research and coordinating all efforts to ensure food safety. It also should liaise with any other federal ministries whose remit covers aspects relevant for food safety. Furthermore, the division on strategy should have steering and coordination responsibilities and the task of exercising technical oversight over subordinate federal agencies which are in charge of risk management. The function of coordinating the Federal Government’s dealings with EU bodies in connection with food safety issues should also be assigned to the food safety strategy division within the Federal Ministry of Consumer Protection, giving the head of the strategy division at the same time the role of head of the European Division and placing the post of 'European Officer' within that division. This concentration of functions related to food safety will strengthen the representation of the Federal Ministry of Consumer Protection, Food and Agriculture vis-à-vis the European bodies because all responsibilities for representing Germany in the negotiations on food safety issues and agriculture will then be in one hand.

Furthermore, a consistent consumer and agricultural policy - at national and EU level - could be developed better if the Federal Ministry's Permanent Secretary in charge of the Division on fundamental issues and of the Division on Consumer Protection would represent the Federal Ministry in the Permanent Secretaries' Committee on European issues.

The EU Member States participate in the so-called comitology committees concerned with food safety issues (e.g. the Permanent Veterinary Committee or the Permanent Committee on Food), which are in charge of working out the European Commission's implementation rules (known as 'Commission Law'). The Federal Ministry of Consumer Protection, Food and Agriculture, which is now going to designate the German spokesperson on each of these committees, should optimise its participation in the Brussels committees by nominating permanent spokespersons and by making its committee work more transparent. Furthermore, the Ministry should intensify its cooperation with the European Parliament.

4.1.2 In the agencies subordinate to the Federal Ministries

Within the agencies subordinate to the Federal Ministries, there are essentially units that deal with issues of food safety. A raw analysis has already highlighted fundamental problems. These are attributable to the strong segmentation and frequent overlapping of these units' responsibilities and the different focuses of federal research institutes whose work is partly driven by the interests of the farming community and the industrial/business community and partly targeted to individual products or groups of products.

(1) A more comprehensive and interdisciplinary approach to food safety requires organisational adjustments at the level of the agencies subordinate to the Federal Ministry of Consumer Protection, Food and Agriculture. E.g., the federal research institutes should give higher priority to food safety issues and their separate research activities should be more linked to each other. Finally, available resources could be used better, if unnecessary interfaces and duplication of executive work and research activities were eliminated.

(2) The interfaces between the federal ministries' subordinate agencies that have partial responsibilities in the area of food safety should also be optimised. Several entities that are responsible for various aspects of food safety (some with overlapping scopes of responsibility) are not within the remit of the Federal Ministry for Consumer Protection, Food and Agriculture. This applies, e.g. to drinking water considered as a part of human diet as well as the licensing of animal medicines and genetically modified organisms. If responsibilities in these areas were more concentrated, this would not only produce synergic effects but also would help to protect the general public better against health risks.

4.1.3 In the relationship between the Federation and the federal states

(1) Under the German constitutional system which allocates government powers and responsibilities between the Federation and the federal states, both levels of government share responsibilities in the field of risk management for food safety and quality (legislation, implementation and inspection). They will be able to enhance food safety only if they adopt obligatory guidance that is uniform all over Germany (notably in the following areas: food, feed, animal drugs, veterinary guidance). They also have to ensure that applicable regulations and rules are consistently applied.


For this purpose it is of pivotal importance to analyse in a systematic manner legal gaps and ambiguities (EC law and/or German federal legislation). In addition the implementation guidance needed should be identical for and binding on all levels of government to ensure uniform administrative practices. Finally, uniform legal guidance needs to be accompanied by inspection that is consistent all over Germany as to its quality and frequency.

The Federation should work together with the federal states and jointly adopt uniform standards to ensure compliance with the regulatory system.

(2) The Federal Government should set up a 'federal coordinating agency' within the ambit of the Federal Ministry for Consumer Protection, Food and Agriculture to serve as an institutionalised platform for the purpose of joint risk management of the Federation and the federal states. At this body the traditional administrative architecture for cooperative action of the federal and state levels should be given up and be replaced by a new architecture composed of legally binding and obligatory organisational elements. Thus the structure of this body should become streamlined and output-oriented covering all areas critical to achieving an enhanced food safety system.

First of all the Federation and the federal states should develop a specific plan of action in a timely manner and have federal legislation enacted to set up the necessary core committees and to define their functions.

The 'federal coordinating agency' should have responsibility for the following:

  • As to the legislation, the 'federal coordinating agency' should be a forum for coordinating federal and state action and be entrusted with ensuring the uniform applicability and the application of the food safety regulations. Apart from the function of a secretariat for the joint federal-state committees, the 'federal coordinating agency' should have to do substantive steering and coordinating work. It will have to initiate discussions with the federal states regarding food safety and quality, steer them in an output-oriented manner and develop solutions that are accepted by the majority of the parties involved. This mission should be performed in close liaison with both the Federal Ministry of Consumer Protection, Food and Agriculture and with the federal states.
  • To have adequate government inspections in place, the 'federal coordinating agency' should have the function of a 'national liaison agency to the European Food and Veterinary Office' which is entrusted with supervising compliance in the German federal states with EU law. It should be the focal point for the overall communication and electronic data exchange with the EU's Food and Veterinary Office. Apart from that it should play a role in developing opinions at the Food and Veterinary Office and at the level of the federal states. For this purpose it should accompany the Office when it does inspection work in the federal states. Its mission also includes analysing the inspection reports of the Office in a systematic manner and drawing up an annual report.
    Furthermore the 'federal coordinating agency' should develop uniform inspection standards in coordination with the Federal Ministry of Consumer Protection, Food and Agriculture and the federal states except where adequate EU or federal standards are in place that can be readily implemented by the federal states. At the same time, its mission will include developing general quantitative and qualitative requirements to be fulfilled by efficient operational inspection units. This work will have to be done in close coordination with the federal states.
    The 'federal coordinating agency' will also have to consider the question whether legislation and regulations on food safety needs to be improved in order to ensure that infringements are followed by effective sanctions.
  • In close coordination with the Federal Ministry of Consumer Protection and the federal states, the 'federal coordinating agency' will also have to work out a catalogue of steps to be taken in case of a crisis defining generally applicable structures for crisis management. Such a catalogue has to highlight crisis scenarios with their respective management needs, as well as alert plans for the whole administrative hierarchy as well as the competent officials at the federal and the state levels. The agency should also be the German interface for the European Food Safety Rapid Alert System. It should participate in the further development, optimisation and extension of the system to include animal feeds. Also it should be entrusted with organising the operation of the system in Germany.


The agency should also develop a blueprint for an early alert system helping to generate timely data on potential risks of food and feed that can in case of need be made available to those concerned. The agency should have a monitoring system in place to collect, analyse and make available the data received to the cognisant public bodies as well as to research bodies and to the business and farming communities.

Finally the agency should develop and operate a central internal food safety data management system in coordination with the federal states. The information could be integrated into a modern information and communication network operated by the Federation. Thus additional planning and decision-making tools could be developed. The agency should also compile aggregate information on the food inspection activities in Germany so that duplicative work in the individual federal states can be avoided.  Within the context of the complex missions described above of the 'federal coordinating agency' , the Federation would be enabled to better fulfil its functions of overall responsibility for legislative action, control and related food safety and quality functions and would also have in place organisational structures complementary to those in place at the EU level. To achieve this, the Federal Government should agree with the federal states the mission statement for the 'federal coordinating agency' and the design of the committees to be established under the auspices of the said coordinating agency.

4.2 Organisational structure of risk assessment and risk communication

(1) To be fully effective risk assessment needs to consider any potential risks to which food is exposed while it is produced and processed. To ensure comprehensive and interdisciplinary risk assessment, a central research body should be established at the federal level to deal with food safety. Risk assessment since this work cannot be done with the existing organisational structures. The body’s mission should cover the following:

  • The central research body should be a generally acknowledged centre collecting, analysing and evaluating any relevant data on food safety risks. To do so, it needs to define the type, quality and scope of the data required from the alert systems and to analyse national as well as international scientific publications.
  • The central research body should have to gain as complete as possible an overview of the national research institutions, their essential research projects and findings in the field of food safety.
  • The central research body should have to liaise intensively with national and international research institutions, compile and edit their research findings in a coherent way and thus to develop its own more general findings to be used for risk assessment. Where the central research body identifies gaps in food safety research, it should make efforts to have such gaps filled. To do so, it should have to develop a coherent and comprehensive research strategy and to build up a research network. Where necessary and appropriate, it should have the power to place contracts with other research institutions and to fill gaps in scientific knowledge by means of its own research projects.
  • The central research body should, as a German federal body compatible with the European Food Authority proposed by the European Commission, comprehensively articulate the German concerns within the Community and should be a competent national contact for the European Food Authority and the German federal states.

(2) A further essential function of the central research body should be risk communication. In the first place it should give unbiased and preventive scientific advice to policymakers and administrators. It should be authorised to issue statements and write reports on essential food safety issues without being integrated in the public administration's chain of command. Where necessary, it should be able to release information directly to the general public.

(3) The central research body should be within the remit of the Federal Ministry of Consumer Protection, Food and Agriculture, should be free from external interference and independent. Its independence should be expressly stipulated in its charter and should be safeguarded by a clear organisational separation from the risk management structures which belong into the political sphere.
In view of the various scientific aspects of food safety, the central research body should be led by a governing board. The personal independence of the board members could be strengthened by suitable procedures for their designation and their term of office.
The efficiency of the central research body's mission performance could be enhanced by a flat hierarchy and flexible arrangements for interdisciplinary research project groups.

5 Cost of improved structures and procedures

It will not be possible to implement the proposed structural and procedural changes without incurring additional government expenditure. The Federation as well as the federal states and local authorities will have to assign more human resources to food safety work.

Given that the present study was completed at rather short notice, it has not been possible to quantify the additional staffing and other costs. Anyway, directive decisions and vast preparatory work by the Federation and the federal states will be necessary before pertinent steps can be taken.

The Federation and the federal states will have to take a policy decision about whether the increased costs should be financed from fees (which then should be uniform for the whole of the EU) or from German public budget funds.

Appropriate new controls to be put in place by the farming and business communities at their own expense as well as fees recovering the full cost of food safety checks carried out by government agencies will cause additional costs to the private sector. If and to which extent the increased cost of food safety controls will have an impact on consumer prices will ultimately depend on the competitive situation in the food sector and on consumers' behaviour patterns.

6 Outlook

The proposals for more efficient and effective federal administrative structures and procedures in the field of food safety essentially aim at improved cooperation between the Federation and the federal states on the basis of the constitutional allocation of powers and responsibilities. The Federal Government should decide about numerous structural and procedural changes within its own remit and reach agreement with the federal states about a well-coordinated system of structures and procedures. At the same time, the Federation should take vigorous steps to settle the organisational, human resources and budgetary problems at the federal level and to speedily proceed to the implementation step-by-step of all the necessary measures.

© 2019 Bundesrechnungshof