Successful structural change
In 1991, the German Bundestag decided to move the seat of parliament and parts of the Federal Government to Berlin. The so-called "five-pillar model" was developed in order to manage the structural change this triggered in the Bonn region:
- Pillar 1 "Bonn as a Federal City"
- Pillar 2 "Centre for International Cooperation
- Pillar 3 "Region of science and research"
- Pillar 4 "Region of future-oriented economic structure
- Pillar 5 "Model of an environmentally sound urban landscape and cultural region"
This strategic approach was laid down in the Berlin/Bonn Act in 1994 and a support programme was implemented in the region. Between 1994 and 2004, financial resources totalling some EUR 1.437 billion were spent on 90 compensation projects and a further 210 individual measures. The majority of these funds were invested in the area of "science and research". All in all, the projects and measures have led to a successful structural change. Bonn is economically more broadly positioned with two DAX-listed companies, the investments in science and research have led to comprehensive innovation potential with a highly qualified workforce structure, the new settlements of UN institutions continue to assign Bonn an important international role in the field of sustainability, and finally Bonn has remained the second political centre in Germany.
Second political centre
The permanent and fair division of labour between the federal capital Berlin and the federal city of Bonn was laid down in the Berlin/Bonn Act of 1994. According to this law, the preservation and promotion of political functions in the Federal City of Bonn must be implemented in the following policy areas:
- Education and science, culture, research and technology, telecommunications,
- Environment and health,
- Food, agriculture and forestry,
- Development policy, national, international and supranational institutions and
It was also determined that federal ministries are located in Berlin and Bonn, with federal ministries in Bonn receiving a (second) office in Berlin and federal ministries in Berlin receiving a (second) office in Bonn. Today, six federal ministries have their first official seat in Bonn, in accordance with the policy areas defined at the time. These ministries, in particular, have close spatial links with existing or newly established institutions in Bonn. The Berlin/Bonn Act also stipulated that, overall, the greater part of ministerial jobs should be retained in the city of Bonn. However, the majority of jobs have already been registered in Berlin since 2008. Over time, the ratio of the distribution between the government locations of Berlin and Bonn has increasingly developed to the disadvantage of the Federal City of Bonn.
Supplementary agreement to the Berlin/Bonn Act
In their coalition agreement of 07.12.2021, the parties supporting the federal government agreed to conclude a supplementary agreement with the Bonn region on the Berlin/Bonn Act. The agreement states: "We stand by the Berlin/Bonn Act. To this end, the federal government will conclude a contractual supplementary agreement with the Bonn region and the states of North Rhine-Westphalia and Rhineland-Palatinate." Against this background, the responsible Federal Minister for Housing, Urban Development and Construction (BMWSB), Klara Geywitz, visited the Bonn, Rhine-Sieg, Ahrweiler and Neuwied region in the spring of 2022 and held initial talks on the subject of the supplementary agreement.
Based on these talks, the Federal Minister asked the region and the state governments of North Rhine-Westphalia (NRW) and Rhineland-Palatinate (RLP) to first agree on thematic priorities in areas where the Bonn region has a unique selling point ahead of all other regions in Germany. In doing so, the region should outline where its main interests lie and which core competencies should be further strengthened in the interests of the federal states and the federal government.
The BMWSB aims to reach an agreement on a supplementary agreement with the Bonn region and the federal states of North Rhine-Westphalia and Rhineland-Palatinate by fall 2023.
In accordance with the BMWSB's request, the region has identified initial priority topics in consultation with the states of NRW and RLP. These topics, in which the region objectively has outstanding unique selling points and core competencies, are to become the subject of the supplementary agreement. As already stated in the mission statement of 2019 "Federal City of Bonn - Competence Center for Germany", the region aims to further develop these unique selling points and competencies via the supplementary agreement and to secure them permanently in the overall interest of the Federal Republic of Germany.
From the perspective of the region, it is in the interest of the Federal Republic of Germany if the core competencies bundled here in a unique way are complemented in a special way by the federal government and also used by the federal government itself. The federal government and the states of NRW and RLP, together with the region, should use the supplementary agreement to the Berlin/Bonn Act as an opportunity to further develop Bonn and the region into the German competence center for sustainability.
Against this background, the region, together with the federal states of NRW and RLP, has initially agreed at working level on the following key issues as a proposal for further negotiations:
- Securing the permanent and fair division of labor between Berlin and Bonn with significant parts of the federal government with federal ministries and corresponding ministerial jobs remaining in Bonn.
- Further development of the UN and sustainability location, new settlement of international organizations and institutions including the creation or provision of space reserves, strategic expansion of Bonn as an attractive location for international conferences, and targeted strengthening of Bonn's visibility as a United Nations location at home and abroad.
- Expansion of the cyber security location. The nationally and internationally significant expertise of federal institutions (BSI, BfDI, CIR Command), companies (telecoms and SMEs) and academia, bundled in the Cyber Security Cluster Bonn, forms the prerequisite for the forward-looking further development of cyber security for society and the economy.
- Bonn, as the birthplace of Beethoven, links the life and work as well as the liberal ideas of the great composer. In keeping with the historical role of the Bonn Republic, democracy and parliamentarianism in particular are to be made tangible for national and international guests.
- Securing the location of the federal government in the Bonn region with the preservation and expansion of federal authorities and concentration of space requirements. Future-proof planning and use of federal land for housing (also for federal employees) as well as for the above-mentioned focal points of the region, which require land for implementation. This also includes the sustainable improvement of transport connections between the city of Bonn and its neighboring regions.
- The region as a location for sustainability research: The regional science location offers a unique "ecosystem" in the field of sustainability research with its universities, international organizations, federal ministries and authorities. The region is therefore predestined both as a research location and for the establishment of public science and documentation sites as well as "reallabs" in the areas affected by the flood in July 2021.