Minister Thomas Strobl: “Conference of Interior Ministers strongly and unanimously approves important proposals from Baden-Württemberg”.
“The autumn meeting of the Conference of Interior Ministers was marked by multiple crises that currently overlap and have an impact on the security situation in Germany. These include: Russia’s war of aggression on Ukraine with all its consequences, the security of critical infrastructures, concerns about energy security and, above all, the enormous pressure on our democracy from inside and outside. The Conference of Ministers of the Interior has shown a great unity of will to improve the security of the people in the Federal Republic of Germany and to establish a democratic consensus on questions of internal security. In doing so, the Conference of Ministers of the Interior strongly and unanimously approved important proposals from Baden-Württemberg,” said Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of the Interior Thomas Strobl in a positive summary of the Conference of Ministers of the Interior. The Ministers of the Interior and the Senators of the Interior of the Länder, together with Federal Minister of the Interior Nancy Faeser, held intensive consultations on internal security issues in Munich from Wednesday (30 November 2022) to today (Friday, 2 December 2022).
The Conference of Interior Ministers unanimously agreed to these proposals of Baden-Württemberg, among others:
Tightening of the weapons law
“We have always said: weapons must not come into the possession of unreliable persons. Especially in the hands of enemies of the constitution, weapons have no place. Since 2017, disarming the Reich citizenship and extremist scene has been at the top of our agenda – and we have initiated numerous measures here. This hard and meticulous work by our weapons authorities, our State Office of Criminal Investigation and our Office for the Protection of the Constitution are having an effect! Since 2017, we have confiscated more than 400 weapons requiring a permit from Reich citizens and extremists. At the suggestion of Baden-Württemberg, a decisive rule has already been included in the Weapons Act: Since then, membership in an anti-constitutional organisation has been sufficient to be classified as unreliable under weapons law. We need to tighten this up so that it cannot be circumvented or undermined. So it is precisely at this point of the regulation that we must tighten the screws once again in order to disarm extremists even more effectively – and this is what the Conference of Interior Ministers decided on at my suggestion: At the initiative of Baden-Württemberg, the Federal Ministry of the Interior has been asked to examine whether the Weapons Act can be amended to the effect that the memberships in an extremist association listed there constitute absolute unreliability under weapons law,” said Minister Thomas Strobl.
The Conference of the Ministers of the Interior has spoken out in favour of implementing the current storage obligation for IP addresses as soon as possible and supplementing it with a storage obligation for port numbers (i.e. the specific device). Interior Minister Thomas Strobl explained: “The case law of the European Court of Justice is clear and unmistakable: The European Court of Justice provides a clear framework for data retention – and above all it gives us possibilities for action. These must be used for the security of the people in our country. Put simply: we must be able to make the digital tyre tracks visible. What is meant is a limited storage of the traffic data that, for example, the owners of dynamic IP addresses also leave behind, in order to be able to identify the trackers afterwards. Extremists and abusive image providers in particular often use anonymisation services to cover their digital tyre tracks. If we succeed in preventing these traces from being covered by storing traffic data, we will protect young and youngest victims of child abuse in particular from unimaginable suffering – suffering that could be prevented with appropriate retention periods.”
Shelters for the population
On the initiative of Baden-Württemberg, the Conference of Interior Ministers has decided to analyse the requirements for public shelters and, on this basis, to develop a modern shelter concept with the participation of the Länder. On this basis, solutions are to be found in a timely manner according to the protection needs of the population and the respective local conditions. “After decades of peace, war has returned to Europe. Russia’s attack on Ukraine, which is contrary to international law, is a caesura, indeed a turning point. On the morning of 24 February 2022, we woke up in a world that had changed fundamentally overnight. This war casts a long shadow that reaches far beyond the Russian Federation, Ukraine and the immediate neighbouring states. In Ukraine, Russia is not only attacking military targets, but also deliberately attacking infrastructure – with dramatic consequences for the civilian population. This must give us food for thought. We must not only strengthen our external defence, but also our internal civil protection. In concrete terms, this means that we must think about how we can protect the civilian population in Germany from the unimaginable event of a military attack on our country – we must think about the unthinkable and prepare accordingly. That is why we also urgently need clear statements from the federal government for, among other things, structural requirements for everyday buildings, testing of underground road and rail systems to accommodate people, but also recommendations for the population itself. All this must lead to a clear concept for the protection of the civilian population. In view of the images that reach us almost daily from Ukraine, citizens rightly expect us to provide clarity here quickly, taking into account the existing infrastructure,” said Minister Thomas Strobl.
Protecting large events with ESCAPE PRO software
“Large festivals, large events, whether in halls or stadiums, on event areas in public spaces or in connection with demonstrations, require plenty of planning skills from organisers and also for our police. The tragic images of the Love Parade 2010 in Duisburg are still present in many of our minds. Against this backdrop, the nationwide research project ESCAPE has developed a software model that can simulate movement flows accurately and realistically for situations with large gatherings of people – even with several events taking place in parallel. Now we want to take the next development step: ESCAPE is to become ESCAPE PRO. With ESCAPE PRO we will be able to plan police operations even better,” explained Interior Minister Thomas Strobl.
During UEFA EURO 2024, many German cities will host a large number of large events in a confined space with several thousand visitors. Due to the high level of abstract terrorist threats, special attention must be paid to crowd management at such events. With the already completed nationwide research project ESCAPE, software was developed, among others with the participation of the Stuttgart Police Headquarters, which for the first time also enables the simulation of crowd flows in large areas, also of events taking place in parallel, as well as their interactions. The current software status is now to be further developed, tested and evaluated so that the ESCAPE PRO innovation project can then be used in regular and real police operations. On the initiative of Baden-Württemberg, the federal and state governments have decided to support ESCAPE PRO.
Financing of the riot police
“It is good and lived practice in federalism and clearly agreed that the federal government and the Länder share the costs for equipping the riot police fairly. Unfortunately, the federal government is currently not fulfilling its obligation: The federal budget is far from sufficient to equip the riot police with the command and operational resources they need. There is currently a shortage of almost 300 vehicles, especially vehicles for the transport of emergency forces, which the federal government is simply not procuring. Because the federal government is not doing enough, we have procured multipurpose batons, breathing masks, fire extinguishers and light body protection equipment ourselves – so that our forces are well equipped for operations in Baden-Württemberg, but also for support in the other federal states. But this is not acceptable. This must change, and the federal government must provide more funds. Especially now, when our security authorities are facing numerous challenges and have to deal with several crises at the same time,” emphasised Interior Minister Thomas Strobl. Accordingly, at the request of Baden-Württemberg, the Conference of Interior Ministers decided to review the basis of the federal government’s financing and equipping of the riot police forces of the Länder and to ensure that the procedural steps of the distribution are made transparent to the Länder. In addition, the administrative agreements and the planned budget appropriations are to be reviewed with regard to the need for changes.