COVID-19: Germany Rethinks Civil Protection


Coordination at the national level is key to managing complex crises. In many countries, the COVID-19 pandemic showed a lack of coordination. To address this shortcoming, Germany plans to reform its crisis response authorities. This includes creating a Joint Competence Center for Civil Protection. Other countries could use this as a source of inspiration for reassessing their own crisis management systems, argues Benjamin Scharte in this CSS Analysis.

BBK president Armin Schuster
BBK president Armin Schuster presents the concept for the realignment of the BBK together with the Federal Minister of the Interior, Horst Seehofer. Markus Schreiber / Reuters

The public perception in Germany is that the German Federal Office of Civil Protection and Disaster Assistance (BBK) was sidelined during the COVID-19 pandemic. An example of that perception is an article in the German news magazine Der Spiegel with the title “the forgotten office” (Das vergessene Amt), published in May 2020. The pandemic is among the most severe challenges with which Germany has been confronted in recent times. One would assume that a national authority responsible for civil protection and disaster assistance would play an important role in managing such a challenge, given that the BBK possesses the relevant expertise. However, organizational limitations hindered it from engaging more actively in pandemic crisis management.

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