Russian Committee for Civil Initiatives on a study visit to Germany

Delegation members at the reception in Schweinfurt

Delegation members at the reception in Schweinfurt

By invitation of the IRZ, the Russian Committee for Civil Initiatives (KGI) visited Germany from 27 November to 3 December 2016 for a study visit on the “Economic development of municipalities – legal framework and practical experience”. The issues of the economic development of municipalities had already been discussed at a conference organised by the IRZ and the KGI on the role of self-government authorities in developing the local economy, which took place in Moscow on 25 May 2016. Since this subject is highly topical and practically significant, the IRZ organised a more in-depth study visit to Germany for the Russian municipality experts.

During the visit, local self-government representatives and experts in municipal law were given a deeper insight into the legal framework for developing the local economy in the German region of Bavaria. During the working visit to the Bavarian State Ministry for the Interior, Construction and Urban Affairs, the Russian guests familiarised themselves with the structure and tasks of local self-government authorities in Bavaria. 

During a working session at the New City Hall in Munich, the Russian counterparts learned about the duties and working structures of the Munich city administration.

Expert discussions were also held at the Bavarian State Ministry for Finance, Regional Development and Home Affairs and at the LfA Förderbank Bayern, where the framework of municipal financial compensation, negotiations between the Ministry of Finance and the Municipalities Council on the use of intermediate budgetary resources and funding opportunities for SMEs and municipalities from the LfA Förderbank Bayern were discussed.

During the subsequent visit to the Bavarian Municipalities Council, intense discussions took place on the responsibilities and duties of municipal associations in Bavaria and collaboration between the federal state government and the associations, particularly when it comes to the definition of municipal budgets. 

The study visit was supplemented by expert talks with employees of the urban economic departments of Erlangen and Schweinfurt. The members of the delegation were able to learn a great deal about the practical experiences of these municipalities in the field of economic development. In Erlangen, the Russian guests were introduced to the Medical Valley Centre, an innovation centre for medical technology and pharmaceuticals. Here they learned about potential support from companies within the context of the medical cluster and by the management of the Medical Valley Centre. The possibilities of non-financial support for companies from the city were also discussed.

On the last day of the study visit, intense discussions took place with the Managing Director of the GRIBS start-up centre and the Head of the Office for Economic Development and Property for the city of Schweinfurt. The meeting was about the potential offered by the GRIBS start-up centre for providing SMEs with financial support, the tasks of the Economic Department for the City of Schweinfurt and in particular about the conversion protects that are currently underway in the city. During a tour of the modern Maintal industrial and business park organised by their Schweinfurt colleagues, the Russian guests were also able to see for themselves some practical examples of economic support and development in Schweinfurt. This was followed by a lively exchange of experiences on economic development projects and how they are being implemented in Russian towns and cities and in Schweinfurt.

Study trip of a Russian delegation to constitutional courts in Germany

In cooperation with the Russian Law Academy at the Ministry of Justice of the Russian Federation the IRZ organised a study visit on the topic “Statutory regulation of the working procedures of the Constitutional Courts of the Federal States of the Federal Republic of Germany” from 3rd to 6th October 2016 at the Constitutional Court of the Federal State of Berlin and of the Federal State of Brandenburg. The delegation consisted of the President of the Constitutional Court of the Republic of Karelia, Svetlana Beniaminova, and three representatives of the Russian Law Academy at the Ministry of Justice of the Russian Federation: Oxana Shabarshova, Head of Unit International Relations, Vadim Vinogradov, Head of the Chair for Constitutional Law and International Law as well as Danil Rybin, Director of the St. Petersburg branch of the Russian Law Academy at the Ministry of Justice of the Russian Federation.

At first the Russian guests visited the Federal Ministry of Justice and Consumer Protection for expert talks. They were received by Ministerialrätin Alexandra Albrecht, Head of the International Legal Cooperation Division at the Federal Ministry of Justice, and Veronika Keller-Engels, IRZ Director. Then Claudia Eller-Funke, a speaker from the International Legal Cooperation Division at the Federal Ministry of Justice and Consumer Protection presented the history, organisational structure and remit of the Ministry. Following her presentation, Public Prosecutor Johannes Gerds from the division for civil procedure and labour court procedure, gave an overview of the structure of the jurisdiction and the stages of appeal in the Federal Republic of Germany.

Afterwards the delegation was received at the Constitutional Court of the Federal State of Berlin by its Vice President, Dr. Robert Seegmüller, and two judges, Dr. Ulrich Last and Dr. Christian Quabeck. The programme of the expert exchange comprised procedural issues in the constitutional courts, the position and the tasks of the Constitutional Court of the Federal State of Berlin, issues regarding the scope of reviews carried out by the constitutional courts as well as the interaction between the Constitutional Courts of the Federal States and the Federal Constitutional Court.

These topics were discussed further during the visit to the Constitutional Court of the Federal State of Brandenburg. Its Managing Director Rena Schuncke, the Presiding Judge at the Regional Court and constitutional judge Andreas Jörg Dielitz and his colleague Thomas Jacob were pleased about the great interest shown by the Russian guests and the lively exchange of experiences. During the intense discussions the similarities and differences in the working procedures of the constitutional courts of both countries were identified in detail. 

Both parties regarded the expert talks as very enriching and would like to continue them in Russia next year. Both the Russian and the German side emphasized the importance of such an expert exchange between colleagues.

Bilateral conferences in Moscow and Kaluga on the role of the internet in official business

In partnership with the Law Academy of the Ministry of Justice for the Russian Federation, the IRZ held a conference on “The Internet in official business: legal organization and security” in Moscow on 30 June 2016. The event was repeated with the same lectures on 1 July in Kaluga.

Russian scientists reported on the legal organization of the use of internet technologies in state administration. In this context, the need to develop an independent code of information was one of the subjects that was addressed. During the event, the Russian speakers also examined the legal nature of the “Electronic state” and “E-government” and proposed legal approaches to these institutions. The Russian colleagues also reported on the legal safeguarding of the international security of information. It was noted that, due to the fact that the internet transcends national borders and in view of the application of international law to the territory of the Russian Federation, intense international legal cooperation is extremely important.

The German speakers described the legal framework for information technology in Germany. The participants in the conference were informed about the IT Security Act, which came into force in Germany in 2015. The legal right to information and its restrictions were also discussed. The German experts also reported specifically on the digitalization of legal proceedings in Germany. In this respect, there was a presentation of the pilot project carried out by the higher regional court of Cologne for processing records purely electronically. The experiences of the German colleagues in this area were very valuable for the Russian participants, especially in view of the fact that the transition to the electronic filing of documents is due to take place over the coming year in Russia.