In consultation with the funding authority the cooperation with the Russian Federation is suspended until further notice.

Conference on “Local self-Government and challenges for modern Society” in Moscow

On 20 April 2017, a conference on “Local self-government and challenges for modern society” took place in Moscow, organised by the IRZ in collaboration with the Kudrin Foundation for the Support of Civic Initiatives (KGI) and the European Club of Experts in Local Self-Government.

The conference was opened by the Deputy Director of the Institute of World Economy and International Relations and KGI member, Prof. Evgeny Gontmakher. Among the more than fifty conference participants were representatives from scientific institutions, city councils and municipalities, the media and experts in local government law.

After the welcome by the organisers‘ representatives, the conference participants were grouped into three round tables. The first round table discussed the issue “Starting point: today’s role, situation and problems of local self-government”. The German expert Dr. Thomas Stöhr, Mayor and Head of the Municipal Administration of the town of Bad Vilbel, gave one of the three initial keynotes, which were followed by a discussion dealing with the experiences with and opinions about the situation of local self-goernment from the participants’ points of view.

The round table “Perspectives: challenges for modern society and tasks of local self-goverment“ considered approaches for tackling current problems. In this round table, the presentation by the German expert Prof. Dr. Jochen Franzke, Professor for Public Administration at the University of Potsdam, led to a lively discussion about the demographic change and migration in Germany and Russia, which are a challenge in both countries.

The last round table shed light on the role, opportunities and tasks of the expert community in the field of local self-government. Finally, future cooperation was discussed which was expressly desired by all participants.

The 14th edition of German Week in St. Petersburg

The 14th edition of German Week was held in St. Petersburg from 5 to 12 April 2017 under the motto “Gateways to the world”. The week included a glittering and varied programme of attractive events in the fields of culture, education, society, economy, law and science.

This series of events is organised by the Consulate General of the Federal Republic of Germany in partnership with the German-Russian Chamber of Commerce, Northwestern branch office, and the Goethe Institute and it offers platforms for strengthening and enhancing the many relations between German partners and partners in St. Petersburg. The partner state for this year’s German Week was the Free and Hanseatic City of Hamburg, which in 2017 celebrates the 60th anniversary of its partnership with the city of St. Petersburg.
The IRZ also once again supported the German Consulate General in St. Petersburg, the Russian Law Academy of the Ministry of Justice for the Russian Federation and the Constitutional Court of the Russian Federation as they prepared and developed the programme for a forum on “Constitutional justice in Russia and Germany” which was held on 7 April 2017 at the Ministry of Justice.

The high-profile conference was opened by the Consul General for the Federal Republic of Germany in St. Petersburg, Dr. Eltje Aderhold. On the Russian side, the participants were welcomed by Walerij D. Sorkin, Chairman of the Constitutional Court of the Russian Federation, Dmitry J. Smirnov, Head of Central Office of the Russian Ministry of Justice for St. Petersburg, and Vadim A. Vinogradov, Head of the Chair for Constitutional Law and International Law at the Russian Law Academy of the Ministry of Justice for the Russian Federation.

On the German side, Friedrich-Joachim Mehmel, President of the Constitutional Court of Hamburg, Jes Möller, President of the Constitutional Court of the State of Brandenburg, and Anke Müller-Jacobsen, a judge at the Constitutional Court of the State of Berlin, contributed to the conference with presentations on comparative law.

German and Russian law professionals discussed current issues concerning constitutional justice in Russia and Germany, such as the legal framework for the activity of constitutional courts in the Russian Federation and the state constitutional courts in Germany. The discussions also covered the legal status of judges in constitutional courts, the question of when a citizen can apply to a constitutional court and the constitutional right to silence of the accused.

The areas of discussion were of enormous practical relevance to the Russian experts present and were immediately met with great interest. Lively discussions and intense exchanges of expertise between the Russian and German sides meant that the successful cooperation, which as far as legal collaboration is concerned has existed for years, could be continued and further enhanced with new content.
In future years, the IRZ will continue to play an active role in organising the traditional German Week in St. Petersburg.

Download: Programme and brochure for German Week

Bilateral workshop on labour and social law in Germany

On 9 December 2016, the IRZ supported the Max Planck Institute for Social Law and Social Policy as it led a German-Russian workshop on "Employers’ responsibility for social protection in Russia: comparative legal aspects", which took place in Munich.

Eight speakers from Russia, all leading experts in labour and social law, were among those who gave lectures at the event. They represented four prestigious universities and one institute:

  • The Lomonossov University in Moscow,
  • The National Research University "Higher School of Economics" in Moscow,
  • The State University of St. Petersburg,
  • The State University of Perm and
  • The All-Russian Economic Research Institute for the Ministry of Labour and Social Protection of the Russian Federation.

The German side was represented by experts from the Max Planck Institute for Social Law and Social Policy, as well as by the Catholic University of Eichstätt-Ingolstadt, the Martin Luther University of Halle-Wittenberg and the Ludwig Maximilian University in Munich.

The Russian experts provided an in-depth insight into the development of employers’ social responsibilities and the current position of employers in terms of social insurance. As well as the liability of employers to make contributions, questions were also raised about the employer’s responsibility in Russia (partially preserved from the USSR) to pay out social benefits and the employer’s duties in terms of safety at work. During lectures and discussions, the advantages and disadvantages of the payment of social benefits by the employer were analysed. Practical problems arising in the application of the law and the reality of law enforcement due to the involvement of employers were also openly discussed.

At the same time, the German lectures allowed the Russian participants to gain an insight into the control mechanisms used in Germany to involve the employer in social insurance and in the reintegration of  employees following sick leave. During their lectures and contributions to discussions, the German speakers said that these control mechanisms work better in practice if the employer’s interests are taken into account (e.g. exemption from liability for the employer thanks to effective statutory accident insurance). The Russian participants were also very interested, particularly in view of demographic changes, in hearing about the experiences of their German colleagues concerning the reintegration of employees following long periods of sick leave.

Common ground shared between both legal systems was established in the consequences of the non-fulfilment of employer liabilities when it comes to paying social insurance contributions. In both countries, this should basically not have a detrimental effect on the insured, whereby the Constitutional Court of the Russian Federation even used the legal situation in Germany as a basis for its 2007 decision on the duty of the state to "subsequently rectify" any contributions not paid by the employer.

Lively discussions took place after each block of lectures, made up of two to three Russian lectures and one German lecture. The results of the workshop are published in a conference transcript.