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The Ministry's Agencies

Introduction

The Bundeskartellamt (BKartA) is an independent competition authority based in Bonn. The Bundeskartellamt is entrusted with what is a pivotal regulatory task in any market economy, namely that of protecting competition.

The Bundeskartellamt deals with all restraints of competition that affect Germany. If only one of the Länder is affected, the cartel authority of the respective Land is responsible; mergers, however, are scrutinised by the Bundeskartellamt. The work of the Bundeskartellamt is based on the Act against Restraints of Competition. Where appropriate, the Bundeskartellamt also bases its rulings on European competition law, provided that the European Commission does not take action itself.

The Federal Network Agency for Electricity, Gas, Telecommunications, Post and Railway (BNetzA) is an independent federal authority based in Bonn. The prime task of the Federal Network Agency is to foster competition in the fields for which it is responsible by regulating these sectors and by ensuring that access to the networks is granted in a way that is both fair and non-discriminatory.

The Federal Network Agency also sees to it that basic postal and telecommunications services are available everywhere in the country and assigns finite resources of radio frequencies and telephone numbers etc. It is also responsible for protecting important consumer rights and can be called upon as an arbitration board. In order to reduce trade barriers, ensure free trade, and protect the general public from unsafe equipment, the Federal Network Agency monitors products that have been placed on the market with respect to electromagnetic compatibility in line with the Electromobility Compatibility Act and the Act on Radio Equipment and Telecommunications Terminal Equipment. It is also the competent authority under the Digital Signature Act.

The central tasks undertaken by the Federal Network Agency with regard to energy regulation notably include the approval of network fees for the transmission of electricity and gas, the removal of obstacles that impede access to the energy supply networks for suppliers and consumers, the standardisation of the relevant processes for switching suppliers, and the improvement of conditions under which new power plants are connected to the networks.

Since 2011, the Federal Network Agency has also been responsible for the faster expansion of the electricity grid through implementation of the Grid Expansion Acceleration Act.

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© BAFA

Based in Eschborn, the Federal Office for Economic Affairs and Export Control (BAFA) is a higher federal authority that undertakes a broad range of tasks. The Federal Office for Economic Affairs and Export Control has important federal responsibilities in the fields of foreign trade and payments, business promotion and energy.

One of the office's core responsibilities is export control (part of its work in the field of foreign trade and payments). It is also responsible for economic development, where its focus is mainly on conducting programmes for small and medium-sized enterprises. The Federal Office for Economic Affairs and Export Control also funds measures in the energy sector towards the greater use of renewable energies and greater energy saving.

The Berlin-based Federal Institute for Materials Research and Testing (BAM) is a higher federal authority and research institute for science and technology. According to its guidelines on "material and chemical safety" and in line with its statutory duties (e. g. in areas such as hazardous materials law, explosives law, and chemicals law), the Federal Institute for Materials Research and Testing is responsible for ensuring the safe and environmentally compatible use of technical facilities and products, as well as the provision of reference procedures and reference materials. The BAM works in close co-operation with universities, other research institutes, industry, and as part of European and international networks to conduct research and development activities and engage in knowledge and technology transfer. It is also involved in standardisation and in developing other technical rules for assessing substances, materials, structures, and procedures. In addition, the Federal Institute for Materials Research and Testing engages in technical co-operation with developing countries and emerging economies, particularly as part of twinning projects.

The Federal Institute for Materials Research and Testing is responsible for the following tasks:

  • The advancement of material and chemical safety, not least by conducting its own research and development in BAM's fields of expertise
  • Fulfilling its statutory duties to ensure technical safety, particularly in the area of hazardous substances and hazardous materials
  • Implementation and evaluation of the physical and chemical testing of materials and equipment, including the preparation of reference procedures and reference materials to ensure that national objectives such as technical safety, public health, environmental protection, and the safeguarding of economic assets are met
  • Conformity assessment under European law, e. g. in the fields of explosive materials, pyrotechnics, or construction products
  • Knowledge and technology transfer in BAM's fields of expertise
  • Cooperation with national and international organisations and bodies in the fields of materials engineering and chemicals and in the development of standards and statutory regulations, for example in the establishment of safety standards and thresholds
  • Advising the Federal Government and business

The Federal Institute for Materials Research and Testing undergoes external evaluation and accreditation procedures itself to ensure that it possesses the necessary expertise to conduct its work.

The German National Metrology Institute (PTB) is a higher federal authority and research institute for science and technology based in Braunschweig and Berlin. Pursuant to the German Units and Time Act, the Institute is responsible for the definition, retention, and adoption of international units of measurements and for supplying national standards. This includes providing the exact time using atomic clocks, which is then transmitted via internet and radio wave transmitters.

The German National Metrology Institute works in close co-operation with universities, other research institutes, and industry to conduct research and development activities in the area of metrology, which provides the basis for its additional work. Coordinating with other European institutes that conduct metrological research is crucial to this work www.euramet.org. The Institute is also involved in the international harmonisation of metrology, particularly through its participation in the International Metrology Congress www.bipm.org, and in standardisation. It is also involved in technical cooperation, not least in partnership with the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ). Furthermore, the Institute supports developing countries and emerging economies as they build up metrological infrastructure.

The PTB is responsible for the following:

  • The tasks it has been assigned pursuant to 22 laws and ordinances
  • Conducting its own research and development in the field of metrology, including defining fundamental and natural constants
  • Conformity assessment under national and European law, e.g. for metering devices and medical products
  • Scientific and technical services for industry and for the further development of metering technology to ensure that government meets its objectives for protecting the public (consumer and environmental protection, healthcare, occupational health and safety)
  • Transfer of expertise and technology to business
  • Participation in national and international organisations and bodies in the fields of metrology, statutory measurement, and standardisation
  • Advising the Federal Government and business

The National Metrology Institute operates a quality management system compliant with international standards (PDF: 401 KB). By doing so, it ensures that the calibration certificates, conformity assessment documentation, and other metrological evaluation reports it issues are recognised internationally. This allows German businesses to use this documentation in order to bring their products onto the market or become certified to ISO 9001.

Based in Hanover, the Federal Institute for Geosciences and Natural Resources (BGR) advises the Federal Government on matters of geoscience. The German Mineral Resources Agency is based at the Institute's location in Berlin-Spandau. The Federal Institute for Geosciences and Natural Resources is concerned with the sustainable use of natural resources and protecting the human habitat.

As a Centre of Excellence for geoscience, the Institute advises and informs the Federal Government and German business on all issues relating to geoscience and raw materials procurement. Its work focuses on ensuring that natural resources are used in a way that is economically and environmentally sound and thus in the interest of humankind. As Germany's geologic authority, the Federal Institute for Geosciences and Natural Resources also undertakes a large number of international duties. In Germany, its main task is to act as a co-ordinator. As a higher federal authority, the Institute is part of Germany's scientific and technical infrastructure and also undertakes certain responsibilities which are defined in statute.