In the conference, which was carried out online due to the pandemic, the chief presidents of the three-tier administrative jurisdiction dealt with current legislative measures to shorten the number of instances, among other things. This applies in particular to the transfer of first-instance responsibilities to the second instance for judicial proceedings on major infrastructure projects, the increasing provision of the Federal Administrative Court as the initial instance and considerations to circumvent the second instance, as recently discussed in the area of railway law. The presidents also discussed the so-called Measures Act Preparation Act, which eliminates legal protection under administrative courts in order to accelerate infrastructural measures.
The following was unanimously adopted in the conference
the presidents of the higher administrative courts and administrative courts of the federal states as well as the president of the federal administrative court
from April 19, 2021
Strengthen legal protection – maintain competence in the courtroom
1. The presidents welcome the latest legislative reforms to accelerate administrative court proceedings for major infrastructure projects by further concentrating the initial competences at the higher administrative courts and administrative courts. At the same time, however, they are concerned that the legislature is designating the Federal Administrative Court as the entrance court for a growing number of such projects. The constitutional requirement that the Federal Administrative Court should primarily be a court of appeal is thus increasingly disregarded; at the same time, the efficiency of the higher administrative courts and administrative courts is underestimated. This underestimation continues in current efforts by the legislature to shorten the number of instances by bypassing the Higher Administrative Court or the Administrative Court. It is correct that, due to the requirements of national and European law, these are highly complex legal and regularly technical issues, for example of a nature conservation nature, the clarification of which is associated with considerable effort. However, the administrative judiciary is very aware of its responsibility and is making every effort to ensure rapid and high-quality legal protection even in such highly complex proceedings. With further measures, the administrative judiciary is consistently working towards an acceleration of the proceedings and, in appropriate cases, towards amicable regulations.
2. The administrative judiciary as a whole is and will remain heavily burdened not only because of the large-scale infrastructural proceedings, but also because of the continuously high number of asylum proceedings and the large number of new proceedings in connection with the measures to contain the coronavirus. However, it can only live up to its responsibility to ensure rapid and high-quality legal protection if sufficient human resources are available for this. The 2017 Pact for the Rule of Law made substantial resources available to the judiciary. The expectation that the state budgets will be able to bear the costs for the additional jobs after two years of start-up financing is at risk due to the pandemic under the current conditions. The presidents call on the federal and state governments to renew the pact for the rule of law by means of a new financial grant from the federal government to maintain the growth in jobs created in order to safeguard the successes achieved so far and to further shorten the duration of administrative court proceedings.
3. The administrative judiciary can only make its contribution to the democratic constitutional state, which promotes social peace and the political balance of interests, if legal recourse to the administrative courts continues to be guaranteed. The presidents therefore urgently warn against the elimination of legal protection under administrative courts in order to accelerate infrastructural measures, as is laid down in the so-called Measures Act Preparation Act with regard to individual infrastructure projects. The exclusion of the possibility of control by the administrative court is not necessary in view of the procedural times achieved. It is also legally questionable and undermines trust in the democratic constitutional state.