Policy Profile Germany


Germany is a member state of the European Union and is therefore required to implement all EU directives, laws, regulations and policies, including those related to heritage and culture.

Germany and the EU

The European Commission Representation Office and the European Parliament  Liaison Office are located in Berlin. The German Government has a Permanent Representation to the European Union in Brussels.

National Cultural Policy in Germany

The Bundesrepublik Deutschland (federal Republic of Germany) is composed of 16 Länder (federal States), to which the “exercise of state powers and the discharge of state functions” are assigned by the Grundgesetzt (Basic Law) in Article 30. Therefore, competencies in the cultural field are assigned on different levels. Namely, to the federal State, to the 16 autonomous federal States and to municipalities (Article 28, paragraph 2 of the Grundgesetzt). 

The main responsibilities of the Bundesregierung (federal Government) concern State representation, the establishment of a regulatory framework for culture, promotion of State-relevant projects and cultural institutions, foreign cultural policy, promotion of Berlin as the capital city and preservation and protection of cultural heritage.

The Representative of cultural affairs at the federal level is the Beauftragte für Kultur und Media (BKM) (federal Government Commissioner for Culture and the Media) established in 1998. In the same year, the Bundestag (the Parliament) established the  Committee on Culture and the Media, entrusted with the supervision of the BKM. 

The institution responsible for international cultural policy is the Auswärtiges Amt (federal Foreign Office) and its Office of the Minister of State for International Cultural Policy, established in 2018. 

The Kultusministerkonferenz (Kultur-MK) is the permanent and independent conference of the Ministers of Culture of the 16 federal States, a body entrusted to build cooperation and common opinion and to establish a dialogue with the federal institutions. It consists of a bridge between the 16 Länder and the federal State on cultural matters. 

Another relevant entity in Germany for the protection of cultural heritage is the Deutsches Zentrum Kulturgutverluste (German Lost Art Foundation). The Foundation deals with unlawfully seized cultural property during the Nazi regime, in colonial contexts, during wartime and the Soviet occupation zone. 

Regional Policies in Germany

The Republic of Germany is divided in 16 federal States (Länder), these are: Berlin, Bayern (Bavaria), Niedersachsen (Lower Saxony), Baden-Württemberg, Rheinland-Pfalz (Rhineland-Palatinate), Sachsen (Saxony), Thüringen (Thuringia), Hessen, Nordrhein-Westfalen (North Rhine-Westphalia), Sachsen-Anhalt (Saxony-Anhalt), Brandenburg, Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, Hamburg, Schleswig-Holstein, Saarland, Bremen.

All of the 16 Bundesländer have their own Parliaments, Parliamentary Committees dealing  with cultural affairs and Ministries responsible for culture. Following a reform in 2006, the federal Government assumed more responsibilities for the conservation of cultural heritage. 

In Germany, municipalities retain some competencies in the cultural field through the dedicated Kulturdezernenten (Cultural Commissioners). Their competencies range from local public cultural institutions such as theatres, libraries, museums or music schools to local cultural programmes. Municipalities are represented by dedicated associations, among them: the  Deutscher Städtetag (Association of Cities and Towns), the Deutscher Städte- und Gemeindebund (Association of Towns and Municipalities) and the Deutscher Landkreistag (Association of Counties). 

View all Germany policies gathered so far

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* = This designation is without prejudice to positions on status, and is in line with UNSCR 1244/1999 and the ICJ opinion on the Kosovo declaration of independence

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