Germany is a federal state. Besides Federal Government (the Bundesregierung) there are two other autonomous tiers of government: the Länder (state governments) and the Städte und Gemeinde (municipal governments). The Federal State of Germany consists of 16 Länder. Each Land has its own constitution, its own parliament, and its own prime minister. The legislative responsibilities of the Bund and the Länder are defined in the Grundgesetz or constitution of the Federal Republic of Germany, which came into effect in 1949. Three types of legislation are distinguished (European Commission, 1999: 23):
- ‘exclusive legislation, which is the sole responsibility of the Bund (nationality law, currency and customs matters, etc.);
- concurrent legislation, which is the responsibility of the Länder, but only in so far as no legislation has been passed by the Bund (this covers the majority of fields of legislation and includes land law and local land use planning);
- framework legislation, where the Bund issues framework legislation and each of the Länder fill in the detailed regulation via their own legislation (this includes the areas of supra-local spatial planning, water management, and nature conservation)’.