The Federal Union of German Industry (FSNP) is the head federal organization that unites 34 industry unions of entrepreneurs. The vast majority of industrial firms are members of one or more business associations. The main traditional task of the FSNP is the expression and protection of the common interests of entrepreneurs and their unions, the coordination of some of their actions, as well as political interaction with the federal government and parliament (and lobbying influence on them when solving fundamental economic and political issues). Check computerminus for political system of Germany.
There are also parent unions in handicrafts, retail, insurance, banking, etc. Only persons of free professions (doctors, lawyers, architects, etc.) have 78 unions united in the Federal Union of Free Professions.
Important coordinating functions are also performed by the German Association of Chambers of Commerce and Industry (NOTCI) – a voluntary association of chambers of commerce and industry representing the interests of firms at the local and regional level.
The internal policy of Germany is aimed at maintaining law and order and ensuring constitutional rights and freedoms. With the help of the Federal Constitutional Court, disputes between the federation and the states are resolved, parties and political organizations are checked for compliance with the Basic Law, guarantees of the rule of law and the administration of independent justice are provided.
An important component of domestic policy in Germany is immigration policy. Emphasis is placed on the integration of foreigners living in the country while limiting their influx. In 1992, Germany accepted 80% of citizens who applied for asylum in the EU countries (mainly for political reasons). After the adoption in 1993 of new legislation that limited the right to receive asylum, the influx of foreigners in Germany began to decrease.
Germany pursues its foreign policy in close alliance with its partners in the European Union and NATO. The main directions of German foreign policy: the further development of the EU, the deepening of integration not only in the economic, but also in the domestic and foreign policy spheres, as well as the formation of a common foreign and security policy; transformation of the institutional structure of the EU to improve the effectiveness of the Union in the context of globalization and the expansion of the EU to the east; ensuring effective integration into the EU of new members; strengthening pan-European cooperation within the framework of the OSCE; the further development of NATO and transatlantic cooperation, the prevention of tension and conflicts within the organization when differences are discovered, similar to those that arose over the operation against Iraq; strengthening the role of international organizations, primarily the UN, and more active participation of Germany in their activities; strengthening and respect for human rights throughout the world; expansion of partnership relations with the countries-neighbors of the EU – regions of the Mediterranean, the Middle East and the CIS; ensuring sustainable development in the world, preventing the occurrence of global catastrophes.
The sustainability of global development implies, from the point of view of Germany, first of all, ensuring a fair balance of interests between the North and the South. Therefore, development assistance remains among the most important priorities of its foreign policy. Disarmament, arms control and the non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction remain central. In relations with the Russian Federation, the German foreign policy leadership adheres to the position of cooperativeness and coordination, nevertheless remaining within the framework of strict pragmatism.
European policy, partnership with the United States, as well as relations with the EU’s neighboring environment are the unconditional priorities of Germany’s foreign policy.
Since 1973, Germany has been participating in various peacekeeping operations under the auspices of the UN. Since 1995, the German military contingent has been part of the peacekeeping force under NATO command in Bosnia and Herzegovina, and then in Kosovo. In November 2001, the Bundestag, by a majority of only 2 votes, for the first time voted for the participation of 3,900 soldiers in an anti-terrorist operation outside Europe (in Afghanistan), and thereby expressed a vote of confidence in the government.
The armed forces (Bundeswehr) consist of the land, naval, air forces, as well as medical and sanitary units and support services. There is universal military service (service life 10 months). Conscientious objection to military service is allowed: it is replaced by alternative service (13 months). The size of the Bundeswehr after 1990 was significantly reduced and as of April 2003 was 291,157 people. (including in the ground forces – 199,304, in the naval forces – 24,722, in the air force – 67,131). The German Armed Forces are an integral part of NATO’s military structure.
In June 1995, a program was announced for “adaptation of the structure of the armed forces, territorial defense control and deployment of the Bundeswehr”, which marked the beginning of the reorganization of the armed forces and their division into main defensive forces, rapid reaction forces and the basic organization of the armed forces. Defense spending is approx. 1.5% of GDP (in the 2003 budget – 28.3 billion euros).
Germany has diplomatic relations with the Russian Federation (established with the USSR in September 1955).