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The budget contains all budget income and expenditure ( cameralistics ) or income and expenditure ( double ) estimated for the next financial year by legal entities under public law , as well as commitment appropriations , posts and posts of all administrations as well as specific budget notes. Bodies responsible for the budget such as the federal government , federal states , municipalities or associations of municipalities , but also institutions under public law and corporations under public law, implement their short-term financial planning in a budget.

In the case of German regional authorities, one speaks of a municipal budget, district budget, state budget, federal budget or state budget . Even internationally, budgets are used as a means of financial planning for states and their subdivisions. In Austria is of financial management , in Switzerland from budget spoken.

Country-specific regulations


General principles

The budget is used to determine and cover the financial needs of the planning regional authority , which are likely to be necessary for the fulfillment of the tasks in the approval period. The budgetary principles apply to a budget. The principle of truth ( § 9 and § 11 BHO) requires the most precise calculation and estimation possible on the basis of reliable data, especially with regard to budget income. Business cycle estimates and tax estimates are the main sources of budgets. A budget only produces declaratory effects for the revenue it estimates , because extra-budgetary legal norms must be used as the collection norm (in particular tax laws or contracts). A budget is the beginning of housekeeping. It must be passed by parliament by law or statutes and only then becomes legally binding as an approved budget.


This process flow from the budget through the budget law to the final public budget is stipulated by law. The legal bases are different for the federal level, the states and municipalities, but have the same content in the core questions, due to the idea of budget law . The same or similar rules are also applied internationally.


The budget is the basis for budget and business management. The type and scope of the services to be provided by a regional authority are determined by the budget. The requirements of macroeconomic equilibrium must be taken into account in its preparation and implementation. According to Article 110, Paragraph 2 of the Basic Law, the budget is to be established by the budget law (or budget statute at municipal level) before the beginning of the calendar year for which it is intended . This also applies to the budget plans of the federal states (§ 1 LHO NRW). This expresses the budgetary principle of prior, which even enjoys constitutional status due to the constitutional regulation. In particular, the principles of completeness, budgetary clarity and truthfulness must also be observed. According to the principle of unity, all anticipated income, anticipated expenditure and anticipated required commitment appropriations are to be recorded in a budget. In the case of a performance-related plan ( double ), the budget contains a performance, success and finance plan. The accounting is carried out with cost and performance accounting through a profit, asset and financial statement, supplemented by a performance report (§ 7a LHO). The generally applicable principle of total coverage (§ 8 LHO) can be broken in the budget if the use of income for certain purposes is permitted there. The budget does not imply any obligation to provide expenditure (Section 3 (1) LHO); the budget thus regularly does not trigger any payment obligations. The estimates of expenditure in the budget only have the character of an expenditure authorization for the relevant budget year. The entire budget consists of the budget overview, the financing overview and the loan financing plan (Section 13 (4) Nos. 1–3 LHO).

According to § 3 Abs. 2 HGrG claims or liabilities are neither justified nor canceled by a budget plan. The budget therefore only binds the administration , but has no external effect (apart from the informational effect). The budget is therefore not a legal basis for third parties to invoke in the event of claims or liabilities against the state. For example, an applicant cannot justify employment in the public service by stating that there are vacant posts in the budget.

Budget Act

The completed budget becomes part (annex) of a budget law, which like other laws has to go through the parliamentary processes. It is a law in the formal sense because it came about through a procedure that is constitutionally intended for the enactment of laws. However, the budget law is not a material law because it has no external impact on the citizen. However, it has legal effects on the executive because the government and administration are bound by the budget law that has been passed. The Federal Budget Act (Article 110, Paragraph 2 of the Basic Law) not only establishes a set of figures contained in the budget, but also contains the approval of the funds shown in the budget, i.e. the authorization to the government to use these funds for the purposes specified in the budget titles to spend. Such authorization provisions are law within the meaning of Article 93 (1) No. 2 of the Basic Law and Section 76 of the BVerfGG and can therefore be checked for their compatibility with the Basic Law in the standards review procedure. The adopted budget law establishes the budget and sets the budget for the government for the next budget year. The Budget Law is based on the constitutional law and permanently applicable budgetary provisions (BHO, LHO) concluded Come in the legislative process Hours Act contains the legal standards for the financial management of budgetary support for a financial year. Time law means that it does not apply indefinitely, but only for the budget year it contains. At the state level, too, the budget is determined by the budget law (Section 1 LHO).

At the municipal level, the budget law is called “budget statute”. It is discussed and decided by the municipal council in public. If the budget charter is adopted in a municipal council meeting that has not been properly convened, it is void . This also applies to budget statutes that have not been publicly discussed and adopted. In addition to this formal nullity, households can also be null and void for material reasons. Thus, the addendum to the budget of the Land NRW for the financial year 2010 due was too high by the Constitutional Court NRW debt (2 state constitution NRW Art. 82 set) and thus annulled unconstitutional because the borrowing overstepping the amount of investment. In this regard, the court also expressed considerable reservations about the creation of loan-financed reserves in the budget that did not result in expenses in the corresponding budget year.


The budget, as an annex to the budget law passed by parliament, constitutes an authorization for the budgetary authorities concerned to pay expenses and enter into obligations as provided for in the budget. The expenses therefore have a constitutive character.

The budget charter as the normative basis of the municipal financial economy is a (local) law in the formal sense, because it mainly binds administrative bodies ( municipal council , mayor ) ( internal effect ), but also develops external effects by setting municipal tax rates. Therefore it is also law in the material sense. A statute are laws that are enacted by a legal person of public law in the context of its statutory autonomy granted with effect for its nationals and subjugated people. The budget charter has to fulfill the principle of annuality (§ 77 GemO NRW), has a legally prescribed content (§ 77 Paragraph 2 GemO) and is subject to a prescribed procedure for issuing (§ 79 GemO). The budget charter is limited to the information that is required as a legal basis for the budget. This includes municipal income and expenditure, broken down into administrative and asset budgets , planned borrowing ( credit authorizations ), maximum amount of cash advances , total amount of commitment authorizations and tax rates. In the final budget there may be restrictive or broadening provisions on an approach in the budget, e.g. B. be expressed as earmarking, blocking notice or transferability of individual budget funds.

Management binding

The administration is bound by an approved budget and has to observe it in all budget-relevant administrative actions and decisions. Issues of a certain "title" may only be made for the purpose provided therein ( § 15 , § 19 , § 20 , § 27 , § 46 ; qualitative specialty ), unless unilateral or mutual coverage is permitted. The quantitative specialty , according to the expenditure of the amount to the budgeted funds are limited. According to Art. 112 GG in the area of ​​the federal budget, unforeseen and irrefutable higher expenditures require the approval of the Federal Minister of Finance. From Art. 111 and 112 of the Basic Law it follows that expenditure may only be made if it has been “determined” by a budget law. Already from the connection between the provisions of Art. 111 and 112 GG on the one hand and Art. 110 para. 2 GG on the other hand, it must be inferred that the Budget Act not only makes a determination, but at the same time the "approval" of the funds shown in the budget, i.e. the Includes authorization for the government to spend these funds for the purposes set out in the budget. The legal meaning of the approaches and their intended purpose in the titles of the budget results from § 1 of the Budget Act; this legal provision contains the authorization to spend the amounts specified in the titles for the purposes specified in them. The budget principle of the temporary specialty requires the administration that funds to be spent may only be spent during the period for which the budget applies. This does not apply to expenditure for which portability is permitted either in general (expenditure on investments and expenditure from assigned revenue) or by means of a special declaration in the budget (transferability of expenditure).

Even the most careful estimate in the budget cannot prevent deviations from occurring in its execution. In order to meet these deviations flexibly, the legislature created the instrument of cover eligibility. If the budgetary leeway allowed here is insufficient, a supplementary budget must be drawn up.

Federal budget

State budget plans

The legal basis for the budget of the federal states is regulated in the respective state budget regulations (LHO).

The state budget is passed within the framework of a budget law. State budget plans are subdivided into individual plans. Individual plans are i. d. Usually formed for the state parliament, the prime minister, the individual ministries, the state audit office and the general financial administration. In addition, further individual plans can be set up. There is no uniform nationwide breakdown of state budget plans into individual plans.

The state budgets of the 16 German federal states are currently based (as of: budget year 2010)

without exception on the cameralistics . However, the federal states of Bremen, Hamburg, Hesse and North Rhine-Westphalia are currently converting their budgeting and accounting to double , which is why double budget plans will probably also be found at state level in the medium term.

Municipal budgets

The municipal guarantee of self-government is anchored in Article 28 (2) sentence 1 of the Basic Law . The core object of municipal budgeting is the fulfillment of tasks. These tasks are derived from the self-government guarantee. The elementary rights of the self-government guarantee for the municipalities include municipal financial sovereignty and tax sovereignty .

In contrast to the federal government and most of the federal states, the majority of the municipalities in Germany will in future draw up the budget not according to cameral but rather according to double rules. The municipal budget is divided into the double-ended budget and the financial budget. These in turn are divided into individual partial income budgets or partial financial budgets. An establishment plan and, if necessary, a budget security concept must be attached to the budget .

2012: Endangerment from ESM

Die Linke commissioned an expert opinion from the Bundestag's Scientific Service , which it presented on September 5, 2012. The report sees the budget law of the German Bundestag violated by the ESM ( European Stability Mechanism ), since "possibly direct and potentially indefinite liability" is assumed for the debts of other states.


In Austria, the terms financial management and budget are common for household and economic management .

The Federal Ministry of Finance may, in agreement with the Court of Auditors , the shape and structure of the estimates and the financial statements of the authorities ( federal government , states , municipalities extent regulate) than is necessary to unify. The Budgeting and Closing of Accounts Ordinance (VRV) was to be applied for the first time for the financial year 1976 and regulates the entry and item list. A regulation based on the principles of double bookkeeping is provided for the list of items (Austrian standard framework of accounts of the Board of Trustees for Economic Efficiency). The new VRV 2015 must be applied from January 1, 2020. The budgets for autumn have to be implemented according to the new regulation.


In Switzerland, the budget (target) is referred to as the budget , while the presentation of the financial statements (actual) figures as an invoice .

The same structure is always chosen for the presentation of budget and invoice in order to ensure comparability. In principle, the cantons are free to choose how they are presented in their “state accounts”. However, since the late 1970s there has been an informal agreement that municipalities and cantons use a harmonized model with a standardized chart of accounts (the so-called harmonized accounting model of the cantons and municipalities ). The actual degree of implementation of this model in 2000 was around 90% of the municipalities and all cantons. The model is an accrual accounting and budgeting model. In other words, it records the financial events with a time limit. This differs significantly from Germany's cameralistic model. Furthermore, a distinction is always made between current accounts / income accounts (with recurring processes) and investment accounts (with one-off investment projects). This is time-related, in contrast to the balance sheet .

At the federal level, a new accounting model was introduced with effect from January 1, 2007, which is also based on accrual accounting . The International Public Sector Accounting Standards (IPSAS) form the guideline , from which, however, there are justified deviations in individual cases.

As an example of the historical development of a Swiss national budget, that of the Canton of Solothurn is used. In 1895 this canton (excluding the municipal budgets) had government revenues of 1.9 million Swiss francs. In 1938 it was CHF 18.1 million and in 2007 it was CHF 1830 million. This huge increase in the post-war period was not only due to inflation, but also to a clearly larger extent due to real economic growth .

United States

European Union

The budget of the European Union is understood to mean the income and expenditure regulations of the EU. The EU also has its own income , but unlike a state it has no financial sovereignty, that is, it does not have the right to levy taxes and duties . By definition, the EU budget is balanced: in contrast to state levels, there is no budget deficit or surplus . The budget is relatively small compared to the national and regional / communal levels. In 2011, the budget volume of the EU in terms of expenditure amounted to 126.5 billion euros.

In the budget of the European Union , the income and expenditure are redefined annually for the following EU budget year. The budget is integrated into a system of a so-called multiannual financial framework (MFF) (formerly: financial perspective). The European Union sets the binding financial framework for the budget over a period of several years. On the basis of a proposal from the European Commission, the Council , which decides unanimously in this case, agrees with the European Parliament and converts it into a so-called interinstitutional agreement . Since the entry into force of the Lisbon Treaty, the MFF has been anchored in Article 312 TFEU. The Council then adopts the MFF unanimously in a special legislative procedure with the consent of the majority of the European Parliament. The current MFF applies to the period from 2007 to 2013. In early 2011, the European Commission intends to present a proposal for the period after 2013.


Failure to take into account the will of the majority of voters

The strictly representative democratic model of the Basic Law is accused of depriving the people of the state of their legitimate influence on concrete political decisions by restricting their influence to elections every four or five years. In the context of budget law, this criticism of the system aims at the fact that important interests of citizen groups and even the views of the majority within the state people are not taken into account if the parliament does not reflect the composition of the population. The link-back model presupposes that the members of parliament have close ties to the sections of the state they represent. It is necessary in order to maintain a sufficient distance from the government, that is, to be able to exercise effective control of the executive by the legislature , as provided for by the category of separation of powers prescribed by the constitution . Otherwise, the government would de facto exercise the budget right by making members of the parties that support the government, contrary to Article 38 of the Basic Law, recipients of instructions from the government and the parliamentary groups of the governing parties. In this case, the control function of the parliament is reserved for the opposition parties, which, however, cannot prevail due to a lack of majority. Karl Jaspers had already complained in the 1960s that the parties had developed from "organs of the people" to "organs of the state" and were helping to minimize the "effectiveness of the people" in a way that counteracts democracy. In a Forsa survey in 2010, 79% of those questioned were of the opinion that the people in Germany did not really have "something to say". Since in a first step candidates for a parliamentary mandate must be nominated by members of their party, their success depends first of all on their goodwill and only secondarily on whether a sufficient number of voters either elect them as constituency candidates or give their party so many second votes that their place on the list is low enough to enter parliament. This and the factional discipline exercised after the election as a rule ensures that MPs from the governing parties generally support their government's budgetary plans.

Impotence of the MPs

The budget deliberations are described by some as a staging that is not in line with expectations about the actual decision-making powers of parliamentarians. Because parliamentarians, especially those of the parties that support the government, tended to "nod off" guidelines from the government and the leadership of their parliamentary group instead of advocating the fulfillment of election promises.

Often there is also criticism of the fact that MPs are not only in a position to reject budget estimates completely or to “cap” excessive costs for a certain budget item, not only because of power structures, but also because of legal and “practical constraints” Nor could a lack of money create new budget items that are desirable in themselves. The legal constraints include constitutional provisions (primarily as a result of the welfare state requirement ), but also EU directives that have a financial impact and, for members of the state parliament, district council and city council members, laws and other legal provisions of the respective higher level. In addition, salaries for members of the public service who cannot be terminated cannot simply be reduced. Many financially weak local authorities have no leeway to continue offering voluntary services that have been provided up to now, let alone to make new voluntary offers to their citizens. Representatives of “lower” levels often have to defend themselves against violations of the connectivity principle by assigning them additional cost-effective mandatory tasks from the higher level, which restrict their financial leeway.

One consequence of the factual impotence of elected officials are political undesirable developments, such as B. would be expressed in the national debt. The material content of budget law is thereby reduced beyond recognition.

Unsuitability of cameralism as a control instrument

The cameral budget and accounting system is fundamentally accused of being unsuitable in the meantime to function as a technical basis for controlling a modern, complex democratic community. With regard to the budgetary control instruments, it is stated that they are also not fully developed due to the inadequate processing of information and the limited scope of information of the cameralistic accounting system. In addition, the audit function performed by the Court of Auditors in current law is still not solely assigned to Parliament as a legitimate principal and is given excessive autonomy instead of functional independence. Overall, the current budget law and instruments are blamed for having largely stunted their functional potential. Measured against the actual development of the budget functionality, the budget process appeared to be a pompous ritual.

Alternative methods of drawing up budgets

In some communities, run experiments, the budget in consultation with the citizens to create ( participatory budget ). In the appropriate cases, the representative-democratic interpretation of budget law is supplemented by a direct-democratic variant. Even in cases of voluntary municipal citizen participation, however, the budget right remains with the city council in North Rhine-Westphalia . In Lower Saxony , according to § 32 of the Lower Saxony Municipal Constitutional Law (NKomVG) of December 17, 2010, citizens' petitions are inadmissible, in which "the budget statute, including the budget and economic plans of the company's own businesses, as well as the municipal taxes and fees under private law" are to be voted on .

So, despite all the fundamental benevolence for elements of direct democracy, there is considerable resistance among elected officials against being relieved of political responsibility for “their” budget.

See also

Web links

Wiktionary: Budget  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations




European Union:

Individual evidence

  1. Herbert Wiesner / Bodo Leibinger / Reinhard Müller, Public Finance , 2008, p. 17.
  2. BVerfGE 20, 90
  3. VGH Mannheim, judgment of April 8, 1976, BWVPr 1976, 275
  4. VGH NRW, judgment of March 15, 2011, Az .: VerfGH 20/10  ( page no longer available , search in web archives )@1@ 2Template: Toter Link / www.vgh.nrw.de
  5. VGH NRW, judgment of March 15, 2011, Az .: VerfGH 20/10  ( page no longer available , search in web archives ), p. 45 f.@1@ 2Template: Toter Link / www.vgh.nrw.de
  6. Herbert Wiesner / Bodo Leibinger / Reinhard Müller, Public Finance , 2008, p. 57.
  7. BVerwG judgment of March 18, 1960, DÖV 1960, 594
  8. BVerfGE 10, 20, 49
  9. BVerfGE 20, 56, 90
  10. spiegel.de September 10, 2012: Legal experts of the Bundestag warn against ESM
  11. VRV - The first estimate will be half as wild Communal on August 28, 2019
  12. ^ Office for Finance: The Canton of Solothurn in Figures, 2008
  13. cf. current discussion on the EU budget
  14. cf. http://ec.europa.eu/budget/figures/2011/2011_de.cfm
  15. EU budget in detail - adoption of the budget ( Memento of December 18, 2010 in the Internet Archive )
  16. Karl Jaspers, Where is the Federal Republic drifting? Facts, dangers, opportunities, 1966, p. 128 ff.
  17. Stern 2010, No. 46 of November 11, 2010, p. 42.
  18. Ulrich Bergmoser, Vitalization of Budget Law in Six Development Areas - Innovation Contribution of Administrative Reform Approaches in favor of a renewed parliamentary control, in: Schauer, R./Hilgers, D./Thom, N., Innovative Verwaltungen, 2011, p. 481ff. http://web.archive.org/web/20140802005925/https://www.wiso.uni-hamburg.de/fileadmin/sozialoekonomie/bwl/publicmanagement/PDF_Sonstiges/38_Bergmoser_A4.pdf
  19. Hanspeter Knirsch: Basic knowledge of local politics: The local budget . Friedrich Ebert Foundation . 2012, p. 13
  20. NI-VORIS