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How to carry through an energy transition in a federal state: The impact of joint decision-making on the German Energiewende

The energy transition has been and continues to be a major transformation of many political economies. Carrying through such an encompassing and farreaching reform requires high levels of coordination among various actors in a political system (and the economic sphere). Since energy production, distribution and consumption as well as energy policy planning and its local implementation are territorially separated, one has to ask which consequences this territorial differentiation has on energy policies and their ability to adequately solve problems.

In the German federal state, the afore-mentioned coordination mostly takes place between central level and Länder governments. As enshrined in the constitution, Länder governments participate comprehensively in national decision-making through the second chamber (Bundesrat) which provides them with a veto position in many energy policy matters. Informal coordination between federal and Länder bureaucrats and ministers is crucial as well, especially given that federal and Länder competences are compartmentalised and that the Länder implement most of the federal policies. These structures of joint decision-making have proven to bring about suboptimal and delayed policy outputs under certain conditions, according to the theory of joint decision-making (originally by Scharpf et al. 1976). To fully gather these complex legal structures and also identify problematic overlaps and the vagueness of competences we will establish a dialogue and cooperation with the Institut für Energierecht an der Universität Köln as has been agreed on with its director, Prof. Ulrich Ehricke.

This research project aims to assess the impact of federal joint decision-making on the policies of the German Energiewende. In which ways does the entanglement of federal and Länder competences influence the efficacy, efficiency and timeliness of policies aiming at energy transition?


Prof. Dr. André Kaiser (Cologne Center for Comparative Politics)