Public hand

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Public sector is a collective term for the entire public sector, in particular the budget-oriented authorities ( federal government , states , districts , municipalities ) as well as institutions and public bodies who own taxes - and tax jurisdiction are equipped.

Scope of terms

The term “public sector” is a slang term that is also mentioned in the law ( Section 224 of Book IX of the Social Code deals with the award of contracts by the public sector; Art. 126 TFEU-V deals with the budget deficits of the public sector). The Federal Constitutional Court also uses the term when it allows the ownership of culturally historical or scientifically significant finds that are ownerless or whose owners cannot be determined to fall to the public purse when they are discovered. Art. 2 of the EU Transparency Directive states that the state and other regional authorities are to be regarded as public authorities.

Rather, official statistics refer to the “public sector”. The scope of the term can be divided into three levels:

  • The public sector in the narrower sense is made up of the regional authorities, which in Germany are made up of the federal, state, local and local authorities.
  • An expanded definition includes the Parafisci . Parafisci are organisationally independent institutions without sovereign rights that carry out public tasks with the help of their own earmarked funds. This includes social insurance (statutory health , long-term care , accident , unemployment and pension insurance ) and certain special funds ( federal funds ). This second level is the aggregate for the Maastricht criteria with regard to the new indebtedness of the “public sector”, which cannot exceed 3% of its gross domestic product.
  • The broadest definition covers public companies (companies that are mostly publicly owned) and public company holdings.

Legal definition

According to Section 2, Paragraph 2, No. 6, EEWärmeG is a public sector

According to this, legal persons under public law (except religious communities) always belong to the public sector; Organizations under private law only if such public bodies can exercise a dominant influence over them.

Areas of activity

The public sector is, especially in its broadest definition, both market-based and non-market-based, i.e. it also takes part in competition. While the non-market economy activities extend in particular to services of general interest , the economic activities of the various administrative levels - based on the permission in the municipal codes for economic activity - are mostly not defined in more detail in order not to unnecessarily restrict the municipal freedom of action. General requirements for market economy activities, also for public companies , are the public purpose , the appropriate relationship to the performance of the municipality and subsidiarity .


The concept of the public sector is purely in German; he finds z. B. in Germany, Austria and Switzerland used. In countries with a different language there is an approximate equivalent of the term government sector .

See also

Individual evidence

  1. BVerfGE 78, 205
  2. 80/723 EEC of June 25, 1980
  3. ^ Giacomo Corneo, Public Finances: Spending Policy , 2007, p. 3
  4. cf. about § 107 GemO NRW