Berlin Federal justice ministers have been arguing for months Marco Buschmann (FDP) and the federal states about more money for the judiciary. Now the federal minister gets it again in writing from the state justice ministers: They don’t just want funds for them digitalization of the judiciary, but also for more staff.
The justice ministers of all countries signed a corresponding declaration on Thursday at the Justice Ministers’ Conference (Jumiko) in Berlin.
Specifically, according to the will of the federal states, the previous “Pact for the Rule of Law” should be continued for more positions in the judiciary. For this purpose, 220 million euros are to be paid out in three tranches for the years 2023 to 2027. In addition, the federal states are demanding 350 million euros annually for the digitization of the judiciary by 2025.
In the coalition agreement concluded in 2021 by SPDGreens and FDP it says: “We are consolidating the pact for the rule of law with the federal states and expanding it with a digital pact for the judiciary.”
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Most recently, however, Buschmann only spoke of a “pact for the digital constitutional state”. He offered the federal states “despite the difficult budget situation caused by the crisis” to make available up to 200 million euros for digitization projects in the judiciary. According to these plans, 50 million euros will initially flow to the federal states in the coming year.
Countries want 350 million, Bushman offers 50 million
Other funds – such as for additional positions – are not part of the offer. A crisis meeting between Buschmann and his country colleagues in September did not change that.
The federal states refer to the rule of law pact 2.0 promised in the coalition agreement. The Jumiko chairman, Bavaria’s head of department Georg Eisenreich (CSU), said on Thursday in Berlin: “The Russian war of aggression in Ukraine reminds us that peace, freedom and democracy must be defended day after day. We expect an appropriate contribution by the federal government to costs caused by federal laws.”
Buschmann was accused of not doing enough to protect the interests of the judiciary. “That was a bit sobering,” said Hamburg’s Justice Minister Anna Gallina (Greens). “There is a clear dissent between the federal and state governments,” said Baden-Württemberg Minister of Justice Marion Gentges (CDU).
The German Association of Judges (DRB) joined the demands of the federal states: “A broad-based investment offensive by the federal and state governments is needed to strengthen the judiciary in the long term and bring it up to date technically,” said DRB Chair Andrea Titz and Joachim Lüblinghoff in Berlin.
“SPD, Greens and FDP have their say in the judiciary.” Without significantly more staff, the judiciary would hardly be able to cope with the digital upheaval in parallel with the constantly growing core tasks in the judiciary.
The Jumiko resolution states: “The justice ministers also note that legal initiatives have not created or offer any comparable relief for the judiciary budgets of the federal states.”
According to their own statements, the federal states spend more than 15 billion euros on the judiciary every year. Added to this are the costs of the penal system.
had in the previous legislative period the grand coalition decided on a “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.
According to the Federal Ministry of Justice, the federal states created around 2,700 new positions for judges and public prosecutors between 2017 and 2021 and filled almost 2,500 new positions. That target of 2,000 new jobs agreed between the federal and state governments was thus exceeded.
Bushman could shut down countries
Federal Minister of Justice Buschmann had recently pointed out that his plan to shorten the so-called substitute imprisonment would bring the federal states savings of 60 million euros per year.
If you cannot or do not want to pay a fine, you have to go to prison instead. Buschmann does not want to change anything about 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.
Buschmann explained: “Calculated over the period of one legislative period, this is more than the old pact for the rule of law has moved.” And above all, it is not start-up financing, but a relief that will remain.
In addition, if there is persistent protest from the federal states, the Minister of Justice could come up with the idea of simply launching a digitization program, for which the State Ministers of Justice would then have to apply. Only willing countries would then receive funds.