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Stamp in a German authority: Gas and electricity price brake "insanely complicated"

Photo: Sebastian Gollnow / dpa

According to the latest annual report of the Regulatory Control Council (NKR), the burden of bureaucracy on companies, authorities and citizens has reached a new record level. The bureaucratic burdens caused by new laws are higher than ever, the expert panel said in the report to the federal government. Every year, the independent body examines the time and costs incurred by new laws.

The report, which covers the period from July 2022 to June 2023, states: "Compared to previous years, the burden on companies, authorities and the population stemming from federal law has grown sharply – by 9.3 billion euros per year and by 23.7 billion euros on a one-off basis."

According to the experts, the biggest cost driver is the Building Energy Act, which, however, is also associated with a great future benefit. The gas and electricity price brake has been "set up in an incredibly complicated way," criticized the deputy chairwoman of the NKR, Sabine Kuhlmann.

New federalism reform called for

If overly complex laws are to be implemented by an administration that is characterized by staff shortages and delays in digitization, the overload will take on worrying proportions, warned NKR chairman, Lutz Goebel. He called for "more courage to fill gaps" in legislation and declared: "If we had more efficient structures, more regulation would perhaps be less significant." A new reform of federalism is also urgently needed.

The results are likely to be a major blow to the ruling traffic light government. After all, it has actually set out to reduce bureaucracy – also in order to get the economy going. Green politician Robert Habeck, for example, recently planned to repeal provisions of the Supply Chain Act, which is highly controversial in business.

On a positive note, NKR Chairman Goebel emphasized that the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy has at least now recognized that simplified processes are necessary to implement the "Green Transformation" that the government is striving for. NKR Vice-President Kuhlmann said, however, that when it comes to reducing bureaucracy, there is not a lack of knowledge, but of practical implementation.

Warning against complicated basic child support

For example, she was critical of the Federal Government's initial deliberations on basic child support. These would not amount to simplification, at least for the administration, since according to the current plans "a large number of authorities" would be involved in enforcement.

Goebel accused the Federal Ministry of the Interior of lacking transparency with regard to the digitalisation of administrative services, for which he was responsible. From the point of view of the Regulatory Control Council, the Online Access Act and its implementation have "disappeared into the basement", so to speak.