Germany has to improve when it comes to civil protection – there is consensus on this issue between the parties in the Bundestag. But the federal states would also have to agree to a fundamental reform.

The conversion of the Federal Office for Civil Protection (BBK) to the central office for crisis situations agreed by the coalition should not be possible without a change in the Basic Law. The scientific service of the Bundestag came to this conclusion in an elaboration that is available to the German Press Agency.

It says: “The federal government cannot enact any laws in the field of civil protection and disaster relief that provide for mandatory cooperation between the federal government and the federal states without amending the constitution. Likewise, he has no authority to issue directives to the countries that are possible for the central offices according to the prevailing opinion. »

More natural disasters, more responsibility

Under the impression of the pandemic, floods and forest fires, the SPD, Greens and FDP had agreed in their coalition agreement last autumn that the federal government had to take on more responsibility for civil protection. Literally it says in the contract: “Therefore we are realigning the Federal Office for Civil Protection (BBK), developing it further taking into account the federal distribution of competences to the central office and setting it up accordingly in terms of personnel and material.”

There are already federal authorities with central office functions. So far, however, only where the fight against crime and extremism is concerned: at the Federal Criminal Police Office (BKA) and the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution. In both cases, this competence is regulated in the Basic Law.

At the beginning of June, the interior ministers of the federal and state governments signed an agreement to set up a joint federal and state competence center for civil protection in Bonn.

The center, which is staffed by experts from the federal and state governments, is intended on the one hand to collect cross-state information, such as weather data for the rapid prediction of impending storm disasters and data on the nationwide availability of resources such as rescue helicopters or emergency shelters. On the other hand, decisions should also be made in the center: How will the response be under whose leadership?

However, it was important to the states that fundamental competencies are not shifted: the federal government is currently primarily responsible for civil defense, for example in war – disaster control remains a matter for the states.

FDP interior expert: “No longer fail due to selfishness”

The FDP interior expert Konstantin Kuhle finds the insistence on these traditional responsibilities outdated. He told the dpa: “Well-organized civil protection must no longer fail due to the selfishness of different levels of government. With every terrorist attack, one is glad that the Federal Criminal Police Office takes over the coordination.” This must also be the case in the future in the event of extreme weather events and other disasters.

For an amendment to the Basic Law, however, the federal states would have to be brought on board. A two-thirds majority is required for this, in the Bundestag and in the Bundesrat.

“A central office for civil protection should be anchored in the Basic Law,” demanded Kuhle. The deputy FDP parliamentary group leader said: “In view of climate change, but also in view of the ongoing corona pandemic and against the background of the war in Ukraine, it is time for state structures to react to current challenges.”

Faeser announces more mobile supply

In her own words, Federal Interior Minister Nancy Faeser (SPD) is striving for rapid improvements, particularly when it comes to warning the population and expanding the capacities for caring for people in mobile emergency shelters. In an interview with the dpa she said:

“We have a container system that can be used in a variety of ways for accommodation, medical care, complete with a drinking water and waste water system. We are currently using this for Ukrainian war refugees at Berlin’s old Tegel Airport. We will procure more of these mobile modules, with which we can help very quickly and flexibly.»