Unification of Laws in the Federal System of Germany
In Germany, the central instrument for unification of the legal order is the federal power to regulate matters directly. The legislative powers of the federation (Bund) are considerable, and the Bund has made use of them extensively, resulting in a highly uniform legal order. Most matters subject to intense public discussion such as penal law, family law or labor law are federalized, with federal courts of last instance playing a key role in the development of the law through judicial interpretation. Legislative powers of the component states (Länder) are remaining mostly in the realm of administrative and somewhat technical law. However, the Länder are entrusted with the implementation of federal laws to a great extent. The executive branches of the Länder also have substantial political influence on the lawmaking process at the federal level, above all through their participation in the Bundesrat. Therefore, German federalism has been characterized quite to the point as an “executive federalism” or as a system of “vertical separation of powers”. A separate source of great – and steadily growing – influence on legal unification in Germany is the law of the European Union.