Offer for countries
Buschmann: 200 million for digitization of the judiciary
The so-called Rule of Law Pact has contributed to the creation of new posts in judicial authorities. Now there should be a successor agreement. But the ideas of the federal states and those of Federal Justice Minister Buschmann are still far apart.
Federal Minister of Justice Marco Buschmann has promised the federal states 200 million euros for projects to digitize their judicial authorities in the coming years. Further funds – for example for additional jobs – are not part of the offer that the FDP politician presented to the justice ministers of the federal states on Friday. “Only a constitutional state that does not lag behind technically will enjoy a high level of acceptance among the citizens in the long term,” says Buschmann’s letter to his colleagues in the countries, which is available to the German Press Agency.
Buschmann emphasized that despite the fact that the overall situation has changed dramatically as a result of the economic consequences of Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine, and that the crisis has marked it. The Federal Ministry of Justice will create a “Pact for the digital constitutional state” in order to implement digitization projects together with the federal states and thus also to relieve the judicial authorities of the federal states. According to Buschmann, 50 million euros are to be made available in the budget year 2023 – subject to the approval of the budget politicians. Overall, it is intended that the federal government for these Projects in the coming years up to 200 million euros.
Countries had hoped for more money
The countries had probably hoped for a little more money, also to finance positions in the judicial authorities, where the workload is particularly high. However, the justice – apart from the federal judiciary – a matter for the federal states. From the point of view of the federal government, the funds provided for additional jobs via the Pact for the Rule of Law 1.0 were intended as “start-up financing”.
The Bavarian Minister of Justice George Eisenreich(CSU), the dpa said on Friday after the conversation with Buschmann: “The offer is inadequate in every respect.” The sum, which should be spread over several years, is not appropriate. The path via project financing also leaves open whether this will lead to any relief for the federal states. Instead, he expects “an appropriate contribution from the federal government to the costs caused by federal laws,” said Eisenreich.
Lower Saxony’s Minister of Justice, Barbara Havliza, is not yet satisfied with the federal government’s offer. The first substantive talks with Buschmann on the further development of the pact for the rule of law should be followed by others. The traffic light-coalition agreement plan to stabilize the pact and expand it to include a digital pact for the judiciary. “In view of this promise, the offer is insufficient,” said the CDU politician.
Reduce prison costs
Buschmann had recently pointed out that the federal states would save EUR 60 million per year by implementing his plan to shorten the so-called substitute imprisonment. If you cannot or do not want to pay a fine, you have to go to prison instead. Buschmann does not want to shake this principle. According to his draft, a day of imprisonment should no longer correspond to one but two so-called daily rates. The time behind bars would thus be shorter, which would reduce the costs in the penal system.
In the last legislative period, the grand coalition had decided on a so-called pact for the rule of law. At that time, the federal government had made 220 million euros available to create additional positions in the public prosecutor’s offices and in courts. The coalition agreement signed by the SPD, Greens and FDP in 2021 states: “We are consolidating the pact for the rule of law with the federal states and expanding it with a digital pact for the judiciary.”
According to the Federal Ministry of Justice, the federal states had created around 2,700 new positions for judges and public prosecutors between 2017 and 2021 and filled almost 2,500 new positions. The goal of 2000 new jobs agreed between the federal and state governments was thus exceeded. During the same period, the federal government had increased the number of positions at the Federal Public Prosecutor’s Office by 71 and created 24 new positions for two new senates at the Federal Court of Justice.