Council of European Municipalities and Regions (CEMR)
European section of United Cities and Local Governments

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Germany is a federal state composed of the federal and the regional tier. Municipalities (Gemeinden), cities (Städte) and counties (Landkreise/Kreise) are a constitutional part of the regions (Länder).
10,799 municipalities (Gemeinden) of which 2055 are cities (Städte) and counties (intermediary governments): 294 counties (Landkreise/Kreise)
There are two types of local structures in Germany, depending on the region’s legal status: the magistrate system (Magistratsverfassung) and the council system (Süddeutsche Ratsverfassung).

The council system exists in all German regions except for Hessen. According to the council system, the local council is elected by direct universal suffrage for five years. 

The mayor (Bürgermeister) is also elected by direct universal suffrage for a mandate that can vary from four to nine years, which also applies to Hessen. The mayor chairs the local council and heads the municipal administration.

The local council (Gemeinderat) is the municipality’s central body. It is elected by direct universal suffrage for a mandate that can vary from four to six years. The local council is the legislative organ and makes most of the decisions, all the while holding a monitoring and controlling function vis-à-vis the mayor and local administration.

The magistrate system (Magistratsverfassung) only exists in one region (Hessen).  In this system, the executive branch is composed of the mayor and his/her deputies (Magistrate). These are civil servants appointed by the local council for a mandate that generally lasts four years. The magistrate represents the municipality, is in charge of the daily local administration and implements local council decisions.

  • Urban planning
  • Municipal taxation
  • Public security and order
  • Municipal roads
  • Public transport
  • Water supply and waste water management
  • Flood control and management
  • Fire fighting
  • Social aid and youth
  • Child care
  • Housing
  • School building and maintenance
  • Cemeteries
Intermediary level: 294 counties (Kreise)
The county assembly (Kreistag) is composed of members elected by direct universal suffrage for a mandate that can vary from four to six years depending on the region.  It is the county’s legislative body.

The county president (Landrat) is elected either by the county assembly or by direct universal suffrage, depending on the region. He/she is a civil servant elected for a period that varies from five to eight years and chairs the county assembly.

The county office (Landratsamt) is the county’s executive body and is composed of civil servants recruited by the county or by the region.

  • Construction and maintenance of intermediary roads
  • Social services and youth
  • Care for elderly
  • Maintenance of schools
  • Child care facilities
  • Collection and disposal of household waste
  • Rescue service
  • Protection of nature and environment
  • Foreign affairs (twinning and cross border partnerships)
  • Disaster management
  • Public transport
  • Maintenance of cultural facilities, e.g. museums, music schools
  • Health care: The health authorities are located in the counties. The traditional tasks of the public health    service at the county office include epidemic surveillance, youth dental care, school examinations, social counselling and the issuing of medical certificates. New additions are environmental medicine, health promotion and prevention, epidemiology and health reporting.
Regional level: 16 regions (Länder)
The parliament (Landtag) is the region’s legislative body. It consists of members elected by direct universal suffrage for a four-year mandate. It elects the minister-president of the region.

The government (Landesregierung) is the executive body of the region. It is elected by the parliament for a four-year mandate. It elects the minister-president.

The minister-president (Ministerpräsident) chairs the government. He/she has the exclusive power to designate and dismiss the ministers of the region.

This differs for the three city-states Berlin, Bremen and Hamburg, where the house of representatives
(Abgeordnetenhaus) or citizens’ assembly (Bürgerschaft) is the legislative, the senate of the city (Senat) is the executive and the mayor (Bürgermeister) is the governing chair. Regional competences are shared with the central government in the fields of justice, social policy, civil law, criminal law and labour law.

  • Legislation
  • Public administration
  • Police
  • Homeland security
  • Taxation
  • Justice
  • Culture
  • University education
  • Education
  • Environment
  • Legal supervision of local self-government

CEMR in Germany

German Association of CEMR (RGRE)
Managing Director: Lina Furch
Deutscher Städte- und Gemeindebund
Marienstr. 6
12207 Berlin
Tel: 030-77307-230
Fax: 030-77307-222
Mobil: 0171-3651085
Association of German Cities
Secretary General: Helmut DEDY
Deutscher Städtetag (DST)
Gereonstrasse 18-32, 50670 Köln
Tel.: +49 221 3771 0
Fax: +49 221 3771 128

Berlin office
Hausvogteiplatz 1
10117 Berlin
Tel.: +49  30 37711 0
Fax: +49 30 37711 999
German Association of Towns and Municipalities
Executive Director: Dr. Gerd LANDSBERG
Deutscher Städte- und Gemeindebund
Marienstraße 6, 12207 Berlin
Tel.: +49 30 77307 0
Fax: +49 30 77307 200
Web :
German County Association
Secretary General: Dr Hans Günter HENNEKE
Deutscher Landkreistag (DLT)
Headquarters: Lennéstraße 17, 10785 Berlin
Mailing address: Postfach 11 02 52, 10832 Berlin
Tel.: +49 30 590097 309
Fax: +49 30 590097 400
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