Association of municipalities (Germany)

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Triangle with the federal government at the top, including in layers the federal states, optional administrative districts, (rural) districts, optional municipal associations and municipalities.  The strict stratification is broken up by city-states and district-free cities, which perform tasks of several strata.Bund Bundesländer/Flächenländer Bundesländer/Stadtstaaten (Regierungsbezirke) (Land-)Kreise Gemeindeverbände (Gemeindeverbandsangehörige/Kreisangehörige Gemeinden) (Gemeindeverbandsfreie) Kreisangehörige Gemeinden Kreisfreie Städte
Vertical state structure of Germany

A community association in Germany is the amalgamation of at least two communities to form a corporation under public law with the purpose of performing public tasks on a larger scale within the framework of local self-government while maintaining the independence of the member communities.


The municipal association is a form of inter-municipal cooperation and is mentioned several times in the Basic Law , although it is used there as an indefinite legal term. The specification of the form and organization of the association to form community associations was left to the federal states, which have created their own regulations for this. These regulations (such as the law on communal community work , GkG NRW) are partly inconsistent. In the GkG NRW, for example, the community association is assumed to be known and the special purpose association is equated with the community association according to Section 5 (2) GkG NRW.


In § 3 of the Württemberg administrative edict of 1822 it was stipulated that every municipality had the right "to take care of all matters relating to the municipal association, to manage its municipal assets independently [...]" Here the term of the municipal association is mentioned for the first time, but is in this context to be understood as "unity of the community". For Rudolf von Gneist , in 1870 economic self-administration as well as authoritarian self-administration basically took place within the framework of municipalities and municipal associations. In 1928, Hans Peters subsumed all forms of communal self-government, including communes, under the term of the communal association. From 1945, municipalities and associations of municipalities were the first public bodies to be able to function again.

Legal issues and delimitation

Legal basis

The concept of the community association is constitutionally not legally defined and is used differently in the Basic Law. What is certain is that it includes the districts and urban districts mentioned in Article 28.1 sentence 2 of the Basic Law. The guarantee of local self-government according to Article 28, Paragraph 2, Sentence 1 of the Basic Law also applies to local authority associations, provided that their members are exclusively citizens . Due to the only admissible legal form of a corporation under public law, the municipal associations are a legal person under public law , have their own legal personality and have compulsory members . By virtue of its legal form and statutory powers, it belongs to the self-governing bodies . Its corporate status requires a statute (municipal association statute ), from which the association members (member municipalities), the organs (municipal association organs ), its association area and the regulation of its finances emerge. According to a judgment of the Federal Constitutional Court of July 1979 (it concerned the offices in Schleswig-Holstein), municipal associations are only those municipal associations that are either territorial bodies formed to perform self-government tasks or that come very close to these bodies in terms of the weight of their self-government tasks. A merely limited scope of self-administration tasks is therefore not sufficient for community associations.


In jurisprudence, there is only broad agreement that the districts are to be classified as municipal associations, while the special purpose associations are not included in them because of their limited tasks. The literal interpretation of the term is unproductive because it does not allow the essential characteristics of the term to be determined. It only allows conclusions to be drawn about an association of municipalities - of whatever kind. It is a typical collective term that has remained without fixed outlines even in today's legal language and jurisprudence.

The community association is to be distinguished in particular from such forms of cooperation between communities which as such do not have their own legal personality. An example of this is the public-law agreement in North Rhine-Westphalia or the agreed administrative community between municipalities in Baden-Württemberg .


A distinction is made depending on the position in the hierarchically structured administrative structure

Depending on whether the members of a community association are citizens or communities / community associations, the community association is a direct or indirect regional authority. Municipal associations usually come into being as a voluntary association of municipalities ("free association"), but the legally enforced compulsory association is also possible. In particular, the districts (districts) are institutions created by the state with their own rights that are not derived from the municipalities.

A further classification arises with regard to the members of a community association:

  • The municipal association is a regional authority if its members are the individual citizens of a certain area. The right of membership of the individual citizens is expressed in particular in the election of a representative body for the area of ​​the community association. The local authority has sovereignty , i. H. direct access to a specific area.
  • The municipal association is a federal body if its members are municipalities or other municipal associations of a certain district. The highest body of a federal corporation is elected by the member corporations. The federal body has no jurisdiction. Since the level of democratic legitimation is higher in the regional authorities, their responsibilities (e.g. district) are often much further drawn than those of the federal authorities (e.g. special purpose association).


The tasks of the community association must lie exclusively within the general interest . Community associations do not have their own area of ​​responsibility (local affairs) like communities per se, but rather must be shaped in accordance with the law or the articles of association. Here, community associations usually take on supra-community or supplementary balancing tasks that an individual community cannot fulfill due to its financial and / or administrative power. That is why the establishment of community associations is intended to prevent certain community tasks from failing due to the lack of efficiency of an individual community. These tasks cannot be carried out “optimally” by the municipalities or districts, depending on their design, technical requirements, financial feasibility or historical understanding. The municipal association and the Zweckverband differ in the focus of their tasks. In the municipal association, the tasks are regularly area-related, in the special-purpose association, however, primarily object-related. The tasks are financed by the statutory contributions that are paid by its members.


Based on the above distinctions, there are the following examples of municipal associations (regional authorities, federal authorities) and other forms of municipal cooperation:

Local authority Federal corporation Cooperation without legal personality
circle level
at district
circle level

Municipalities and municipal associations by country

Source of community figures: lists below (as of January 1, 2012)

country Communities of which
free of association *
associations **
Cities independent
cities °
circles °
population of
the municipalities
area (km²) of
the municipalities
Baden-Württemberg 1.101 190 270 312 (00) 09 35 0.009,767 032.40
Bavaria 2,056 992 314 317 (00) 25th 71 0.006,099 033.11
Berlin 0.001 001 000 001 (00) 01 00 3,460,725 887.70
Brandenburg 0.419 148 053 112 (00) 04th 14th 0.005,974 070.37
Bremen 0.002 002 000 002 (00) 02 00 0.330.353 209.62
Hamburg 0.001 001 000 001 (00) 01 00 1,786,448 755.16
Hesse 0.426 426 000 189 (00) 05 21st 0.0 14,242 048.80
Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania 0.783 040 078 084 (00) 02 06th 0.002,098 029.62
Lower Saxony 1.008 286 132 163 0(10) 8 38 0.007,855 045.85
North Rhine-Westphalia 0.396 396 000 270 (23) 22 31 0.045.133 086.08
Rhineland-Palatinate 2,306 048 162 128 (00) 12 24 0.001,736 008.61
Saarland 0.052 052 000 017th 00(1) 0 06th 0.019,569 049.40
Saxony 0.458 234 090 174 (00) 03 10 0.009,060 040.22
Saxony-Anhalt 0.220 103 018th 104 (00) 03 11 0.010,614 092.95
Schleswig-Holstein 1,116 080 085 063 (00) 04th 11 0.002,540 014.07
Thuringia 0.907 157 079 126 (00) 06th 17th 0.002,464 017.83
Germany 11,2520 3,1560. 1,2810. 2,0630. (110) 10700 2950 0.007,266 031.35

* Own municipal administration - no membership in a municipal association below the district level . ( Office ( BB , MV , SH ), municipal administration association ( BW , HE ), integrated municipality ( NI ), association municipality ( RP , ST ), administrative association (SN), administrative association ( BY , SA , TH ), special-purpose associations below the district level).
** In Hesse, North Rhine-Westphalia and Saarland there are no municipal associations below the district level.
° The three municipal associations of a special kind , the Hanover region , the Saarbrücken regional association and the Aachen city region , which belong to the German District Association, are included in the District column . The cities of Hanover, Saarbrücken and Aachen have special rights that are similar to the rights of independent cities. Even for the city of Göttingen , although it has been part of the district since 1964, the regulations for independent cities continue to apply to a large extent.

European official statistics

German municipal associations are classified by Eurostat in the European hierarchy of local authorities. They belong to LAU level 1, while municipalities belong to LAU level 2. In the case of districts and urban districts, these are assigned to NUTS level 3, because administrative districts are NUTS 2 and federal states are NUTS 1.

See also

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. Art. 28 GG, Art. 84 GG, Art. 85 GG, Art. 91e GG, Art. 93 GG, Art. 104b GG, Art. 105 GG, Art. 106 GG, Art. 107 GG, Art. 108 GG , Art. 115c GG, Art. 120 GG, Art. 134 GG, Art. 135a GG.
  2. Hans Peters (Ed.): Municipal constitution . Springer, Berlin / Heidelberg 2013, ISBN 978-3-642-86960-0 , p. 83 ( limited preview in Google Book search).
  3. ^ Rudolf von Gneist: The Prussian district order . 1870, p. 98 ff .
  4. Hans Peters: Limits of local self-government in Prussia . 1928, p. 62 .
  5. BVerfGE 119, 331 (352f.), Online
  6. BVerfGE 52, 95 (109)
  7. Eberhard Schmidt-Aßmann, Peter Badura (ed.): Special administrative law . Walter de Gruyter, Berlin 2005, ISBN 978-3-89949-195-1 , p. 117 ( limited preview in Google Book search).
  8. a b Federal Statistical Office ( Memento of the original from April 11, 2009 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link was inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. (As of December 31, 2010)  @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot /