Agenda 2010

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The Agenda 2010 is a concept for reform of the German welfare system and labor market , which from 2003 to 2005 from which the SPD and Alliance 90 / The Greens formed government ( cabinet Schröder II ) has been largely implemented.

The term Agenda 2010 refers to Europe. At a special summit in Portugal in 2000, the European heads of state and government decided to make the EU the “most competitive and dynamic knowledge-based economic area in the world” by 2010 according to the so-called “ Lisbon Strategy ”. However, the contents of the Agenda 2010 only coincide to a limited extent with those of the Lisbon Agenda, which aimed to promote innovation , the knowledge society and social cohesion . Above all, Agenda 2010 should represent a step towards overcoming the labor market problems and the emerging demographic change in Germany .

Discussion and implementation of Agenda 2010

Agenda 2010 was announced in the government declaration by Federal Chancellor Gerhard Schröder on March 14, 2003. Preliminary work had already been done in the 1999 Schröder-Blair paper . Schröder named among other things the improvement of the "framework conditions for more growth and for more employment " as well as the "restructuring of the welfare state and its renewal" as goals . The measures announced with the words “We will cut government services” led to fierce controversy, particularly within the SPD itself.

The delegates at the special party congress of the SPD on June 1, 2003 in Bochum accepted the lead motion with 90 percent of the votes. During the previous discussion, party leftist Erhard Eppler had also called for the application to be accepted. There were four dissenting votes in the party executive committee. A key proposal for Agenda 2010 was also presented at the special party conference of Bündnis 90 / Die Grünen on 14./15. June 2003 adopted with a 90 percent majority.

An internal party membership request that had been launched by several left-wing SPD members failed.

Large parts of the concept were supported by the opposition parties and actively shaped by the CDU / CSU . In her government statement of November 30, 2005, Schröder's successor in office, Angela Merkel, said : “I would like to personally thank Chancellor Schröder for courageously and resolutely pushing open a door with his Agenda 2010, a door to reforms, and for setting the agenda against resistance prevailed. "

The Bertelsmann Foundation was instrumental in shaping the reform concept . The Foundation's “Economic Policy Demands for the First Hundred Days of Government” - u. a. published in the business magazine Capital - the content has been largely adopted.



Agenda 2010 implements, in particular, employer - friendly supply-policy ideas: Since the state cannot create commercial jobs by instruction in a market economy and should not secure existing jobs or create new ones through public investments , indirect supply-side economic individual measures are taken in the expectation that this would create incentives increased private investment, which would create new jobs.


  • Special training offers for young people
  • Vocational training also by technically suitable, experienced journeymen in the companies

Educational policy

  • Public spending on education increased by 25% over five years; BAföG reform to enable more young people willing to study to go to university.
  • Investment of € 4 billion to support all-day schools in order to look after and train students longer and more intensively.

labour market

  • The payment of the unemployment benefit , which is linked as a percentage to the income of the last few months , is limited or reduced to twelve months, regardless of the period of payment into the unemployment insurance. For people aged 55 and over, the period of benefit has been reduced to 18 months (previously 32 months). Unemployment benefits will be abolished. After the unemployment benefit has expired, the unemployed can apply for unemployment benefit II - Alg II for short - in the amount of the social assistance rate; however, the payment is linked to the so-called neediness, d. H. Alg-II payments are only granted if the assets do not exceed certain (low) limits and the income of the so-called benefit community is not too high (e.g. approx. € 1,200 net monthly for a family of three). Recipients of Alg II must disclose their financial circumstances in full, including the reserves for retirement provisions and children's savings books. However, there is an allowance of € 3,850 up to which the savings books are protected. The purpose of this regulation is to prevent the entire assets of the parents from being transferred to the child in order to "hide" them from disclosure.
  • Exemptions: € 150 per year of life and an additional € 750 per year of life for funds from your old-age provision that are only paid out after you retire. Plus € 750 per person for important purchases. If these limit values ​​are exceeded, the Alg II will not be paid out until the private assets minus the exemptions have been used up.
  • The regulations on the reasonableness of job offers have been tightened. Any work that is not immoral is considered reasonable, unless the job seeker is unable to do so for health reasons; if the future exercise of his original activity would be made significantly more difficult; if the upbringing of the children or the care of a relative would be jeopardized. It does not matter whether the formal qualification of the unemployed person is significantly higher than the one required for the job, or whether the job offered guarantees a living wage. If you do not accept reasonable activities, the financial benefits will be reduced.
  • Those able to work who have received social assistance up to now receive access to the funding measures of the Federal Employment Agency through the assignment to Alg II .

Health insurance

  • Adoption and implementation of the law to modernize statutory health insurance (abbreviated GKV Modernization Act or GMG).
  • Many previously granted benefits have been removed from the catalog of statutory health insurance .
  • Introduction of a cost share of 2% of gross annual income, for chronically ill 1%. Each quarter, the general practitioner and dentist have to pay a practice fee of 10 euros; the additional payment for medication has been increased. The emergency admission fee (also 10 euros) was subsequently decoupled from the practice fee. The practice fee was abolished on January 1, 2013.
  • In the future, dentures and sick pay will no longer be covered equally, but solely through contributions from the insured. The aim is to reduce the average contribution to statutory health insurance to around 13% of income (on July 1, 2003 it was 14.4%). This is intended to directly reduce non-wage labor costs ( see also: health reform ).

Statutory pension insurance

  • Taking measures to keep the pension insurance contributions for the current contributors constant at 19.5% of gross wages.
  • Adding the sustainability factor to the pension formula in order to dampen a further increase in pension insurance contributions. Reduction of non-insurance benefits. In addition, the Riester pension and the Rürup pension are introduced.

Family policy

  • Increased investment in childcare for children under three, expansion of all-day schools.
  • Introduction of tax breaks for childcare and for the employment of domestic help in private households.


Economic growth

Many politicians cite the Agenda 2010 labor market reforms as decisive factors for Germany's “economic success”.

The German current account balance (in relation to GDP) is slightly negative between 1997 and 2001, but increases to plus 7.5 percent by 2007, while the ratio continues to fall in Italy, Ireland, Portugal, Spain and Greece.

According to the economists Christian Dustmann , Bernd Fitzenberger , Uta Schönberg and Alexandra Spitz-Oener , the "economic successes" attributed to Germany were wrongly attributed to the reform of the agenda following the reform of the agenda. In their article in the Journal of Economic Perspectives , they argue that it is not the Hartz reforms and also not the trade balances in the euro zone that are the foundations of Germany's economic success. Since German reunification, economists have seen a deterioration in Germany's competitiveness, as the Deutsche Bundesbank was forced to adopt a restrictive monetary policy due to inflationary pressure and rising national debt , which caused the DM exchange rate to rise. Even joining the euro took place at an inflated exchange rate. In order to correct the price level, an internal devaluation was necessary, in particular due to real wage losses. This necessary improvement in competitiveness is not due to the reform policy, but to the independence of wage negotiations from state legislation and the uniqueness of international cooperation between the German collective bargaining partners when deciding on wages and collective agreements with the help of collective bargaining autonomy . The typically German labor market institutions of employers' associations , trade unions and works councils are the prerequisite for being able to react flexibly to extraordinary economic situations such as those presented by German reunification and the eastward expansion of the EU . When setting wages, the collective bargaining partners could take into account the economic situation depending on the industry, region or even within the company itself, regardless of legal regulations such as minimum wages or working hours, and agree by mutual agreement. According to economists, the extraordinary wage restraint began as early as 1995, a decade before the Agenda reforms. Michael Hüther , the director of the Cologne Institute for Economic Research, agrees with the analysis, but adds that the competitiveness of companies in this country has also increased since 1995 due to the fact that foreign locations have been used on a large scale. Jay C. Shambaugh also sees a below-average price development in Germany for the period under review, but does not consider the differences to the price development of some other countries in the euro zone to be so significant to speak of an internal devaluation outright.

Some scholars are of the opinion that Germany had overshot its target with wage restraint even before Agenda 2010. According to the positive current account balance from 2001 onwards, there could be no talk of insufficient competitiveness at the latest. Since 2001, the below-average wage development has been a one-sided export promotion at the expense of the other euro countries, which contributed significantly to the euro crisis .

labour market

Agenda 2010 is said to have had lasting and positive effects on employment. Brenke and Klaus F. Zimmermann found that “although economic output did not grow more strongly in the current upswing than in the previous one”, “employment in terms of volume of work developed better” and “unemployment fell more markedly”. What is particularly striking is “that long-term unemployment has fallen extraordinarily sharply - a new phenomenon compared to previous business cycles. And for problem groups such as the young and the elderly, unemployment has also decreased at an above-average rate. This cannot be attributed to cyclical causes, nor is it possible that the statistically recorded underemployment has been reduced through an expansion of active labor market policy measures. "

In the opinion of the economists Christian Dustmann, Bernd Fitzenberger, Uta Schönberg, Alexandra Spitz-Oener and Michael Hüther , the extent of the Agenda reforms is too small to be responsible for the increase in competitiveness, which has led to an enormous decline in unemployment and for it made sure that the German labor market weathered the deep recession of 2008 and 2009 well. The reforms of Agenda 2010 would have made a decisive contribution to reducing long-term unemployment, in particular by creating a low-wage sector .


Charge of change of economic system

The first critical reaction to Agenda 2010 followed on May 23, 2003: 400 scientists signed the appeal to reform the welfare state instead of reducing it - fighting unemployment instead of punishing the unemployed! Another appeal recognized in Agenda 2010 the “dismantling of social fairness and social equality” and called for “short full time for everyone”.

In 2003, the economist Spiridon Paraskewopoulos also raised the question of whether the “Agenda 2010” was a deliberate “change in the economic system”. There was a discrepancy between the pessimistic portrayal of what he believed to be the economic situation in Germany and the actual successes. “According to the latest figures, Germany has now replaced the USA as the largest export nation. The latter speaks for the strong competitiveness and the great competitive advantage of the German economy in world trade. According to the so-called experts, the federal government, the opposition and the media, it is precisely this previously successful concept of an economic system that is no longer suitable for overcoming today's problems. [...] The German economy can allegedly no longer afford the most successful economic and social security system in German history. "


Consequences for the unemployed and welfare recipients

In a study on unemployment benefit II based on the data of the socio-economic panel, DIW Berlin comes to the conclusion: “The amalgamation of unemployment benefit and social assistance to form unemployment benefit II means a loss of income for more than half of those affected. Around a third were financially better off as a result of the reform. [...] The poverty rate of beneficiaries - a good half before the reform - increased to two thirds. "

Consequences for employees

A common allegation is that moderate unemployment figures have been bought at the cost of creating a large sector of precarious employment. The temporary work sector was massively expanded as part of Agenda 2010 . In particular, the elimination of the time limit on the leasing period led to the problematic independence of temporary work and a permanently precarious employment relationship. Temporary work is an attractive model for employers due to the low personnel costs and is therefore widely used.

Consequences for the social security

According to many critics, the measures of Agenda 2010 only contribute in the short term to solving the pension problem and reducing the rising costs of health insurance . More jobs are needed to increase the number of contributors to social security . For more employment, the costs for jobs are to be lowered by reducing non-wage labor costs.

Consequences for domestic consumption

According to the chief economist of the Financial Times Germany , Thomas Fricke , the Agenda 2010 only strengthened the upswing in a “relatively modest way”, but on the other hand it may have intensified and caused “collateral damage” such as consumer reluctance for fear of Hartz IV . This, in turn, is hindering the upswing from continuing.


“Agenda 2010, (…), that means lower ancillary wage costs , liberalized temporary work, mini-jobs, private pensions. That is ten euros practice fee and the heart of the reform: Hartz IV, the amalgamation of unemployment and social assistance at the low level of social assistance. The Greens have supported everything. But strictly speaking, the agenda was the matter of a group of men in the SPD who were born during the Second World War and grew up during the economic boom of the Adenauer era, men who took advantage of the advancement opportunities of the sixties and seventies and made their way to the top have worked. Gerhard Schröder , Franz Müntefering , Walter Riester , Wolfgang Clement , Hans Eichel , the advisors Bert Rürup and Peter Hartz and a few confidants of Schröder who thought in the background, especially his head of the chancellery: Frank-Walter Steinmeier , the next generation. "

- Marc Neller : Red-Green - The Privatizers, Die Zeit October 26, 2010


  • Armin Gumny: Governing in the political system of the FRG using the example of Agenda 2010. Tectum Verlag, 2006. ISBN 978-3-8288-8952-1
  • Simon Hegelich , David Knollmann, Johanna Kuhlmann: Agenda 2010: Strategies - Decisions - Consequences , VS Verlag für Sozialwissenschaften 2011, ISBN 978-3-531-17948-3
  • Anke Hassel , Christof Schiller: The Hartz IV case. How Agenda 2010 came about and how it continues. Campus, Frankfurt 2010, ISBN 978-3-593-39336-0
  • Holger Kindler, Ada-Charlotte Regelmann, Marco Tullney (eds.): The consequences of Agenda 2010 - old and new constraints of the welfare state . Hamburg 2004 ISBN 3-89965-102-2
  • Christian Christen, Tobias Michel, Werner Rätz (eds.): Welfare state: How the security systems work and who benefits from the "reforms" . Hamburg 2003. ISBN 3-89965-005-0
  • Bernd Schiefer, Michael Worzalla: Agenda 2010. Law on reforms on the labor market. Luchterhand 2004. ISBN 3-472-05665-7

Web links

Wikiquote: Agenda  - Quotes

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Björn Hengst: Schmidt praises Schröder's agenda . In: Spiegel Online - Politik , October 27, 2007.
  2. a b c Government declaration by Federal Chancellor Gerhard Schröder on March 14, 2003 (PDF; 663 kB).
  3. Florian Gerster , The SPD - Party of Labor of the Unemployed? , in: Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung , December 12, 2018, p. 12.
  4. ^ German Bundestag stenographic report 4th session (PDF; 1.0 MB). Plenary minutes 16/4, November 30, 2005, p. 78.
  5. Florian Rötzer: "Nothing works without Bertelsmann" . Telepolis, November 9, 2004.
  6. Frank Böckelmann, Hersch Fischler: Bertelsmann: Behind the facade of the media empire. 2004, ISBN 978-3-8218-5551-6 .
  7. Ingo Zimmermann, Jens Rüter, Burkhard Wiebel, Alisha Pilenko, Frank Bettinger: Anatomy of Exclusion . 2013, ISBN 978-3-658-00771-3 , pp. 78 .
  8. a b c d e Tobias Kaiser: Researchers expose Hartz IV miracle as a myth In: Die Welt Online. dated February 3, 2014.
  9. a b c d From Sick Man of Europe to Economic Superstar: Germany's Resurgent Economy. (PDF) In: Retrieved May 21, 2015 .
  10. Ulrich Blum , Wolfgang Franz, Gustav Horn , C. Logeay, Christoph M. Schmidt , Klaus F. Zimmermann : Agenda 2010 - An interim balance . in: Economic Service. Vol. 88 (2008), Issue 3, pp. 151-174, (Download, PDF, 169kB) , p. 152.
  11. see also Council of Experts for the Assessment of Overall Economic Development , Germany and European Imbalances , p. 105, Rn 184.
  12. Philip Plickert: Monetary Union: The advantages and disadvantages of the euro. In: Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung. June 22, 2011, accessed January 20, 2013 .
  13. Jay C. Shambaugh : The Euro's Three Crises , In: David H. Romer , Justin Wolfers : Brookings Papers on Economic Activity: Spring 2012 , ISBN 978-0-8157-2432-2 , Brookings Institution , 2012, p. 183.
  14. ^ Nicholas Crafts, Peter Fearon, The Great Depression of the 1930s: Lessons for Today , Oxford University Press, 2013, ISBN 978-0-19-966318-7 , p. 445.
  15. Jörg Bibow: The euro debt crisis and Germany's euro trilemma , Working Paper, Levy Economics Institute 721, 2012.
  16. Steffen Lehndorff, A triumph of failed ideas: European models of capitalism in the crisis , ETUI, 2012, ISBN 978-2-87452-246-8 , pp. 79 ff.
  17. Brigitte Young, Willi Semmler: The European Sovereign Debt Crisis: Is Germany to Blame ?, German Politics & Society, Volume 29, Number 1, Spring 2011, pp. 1-24 doi: 10.3167 / gps.2011.290101 .
  18. ^ Karl Brenke, Klaus F. Zimmermann: Reform Agenda 2010: Structural reforms for growth and employment (PDF; 391 kB).
  19. U. Blum, W. Franz, GA Horn, C. Logeay, CM Schmidt, KF Zimmermann: Agenda 2010 - An interim balance sheet, in: Wirtschaftsdienst, Vol. 88 (2008), no. 3, pp. 151–174, (Download, PDF, 169 kB) .
  20. KF Zimmermann: Five Years of Agenda 2010 . Quarterly issues on economic research, DIW Berlin, 2008.
  21. Call of more than 400 scientists from May 23, 2003: Reforming the welfare state instead of reducing it - fighting unemployment instead of punishing the unemployed , einblick edition 11/2003.
  22. Hartz IV - sustainable 'reform' on the labor market or surrender to mass unemployment? , Memorandum University of Bremen , 2003.
  23. Spiridon Paraskewopoulos : Critical remarks on current economic policy "Agenda 2010" , lecture of October 20, 2003, p. 8.
  24. DIW Berlin press release of December 12, 2007 .
  25. Art. 7 No. 1 of the law on the reform of labor market policy instruments (JobAQTIVGesetz) of December 10, 2001, Federal Law Gazette I, pp. 3443, 3463.
  26. Art. 1 No. 6 of the First Law for Modern Services on the Labor Market of December 23, 2002, Federal Law Gazette I, p. 4607, 4609.
  27. Labor market in figures Temporary employment ( Memento from August 9, 2014 in the Internet Archive ) (PDF).
  28. Thomas Fricke: An Agenda for Sacred Cows , FTD, October 5, 2007, Part 1. ( Memento of December 2, 2008 in the Internet Archive )
  29. Thomas Fricke: Angst essen Agenda auf , FTD, October 12, 2007, Part 2 ( Memento from July 30, 2012 in the web archive ).
  30. Marc Neller: Red-Green - The Privatizers , Die Zeit October 26, 2010.