PROJECT: Bonn Berlin Act

Initial Situation

  • In 1991 the German ‘Bundestag’ decided to move the Seat of the German Parliament and great parts of the governmental administration from Bonn to Berlin. After a closely contested debate a narrow majority voted for ‘The completion of the German reunification’. The suspected effects on the region of Bonn where a great loss of government-related functions wich would lead to decreasing employment together with a shrinking population and regional degradation. 


  • Shortly after the decision to have Berlin as Capital City the region of Bonn developed first ideas for the future. Local actors came up with the image of the ‘Five Columns’, which was a clear and goal orientated story that should  give new identification realms to the region. 

Column 1 - Bonn as ‘Bundesstadt’: 

  • Using the cities experience as governmental headquarter > on federal level, Bonn keeps an important role as administration city.

Column 2 - Bonn as a hub for international collaboration: 

  • United Nations, NGO’s, international institutes and companies should be located in Bonn

Column 3 - Bonn as the region of Science and Research: 

  • The academic tradition of the University City Bonn should be developed further into an international direction.

Column 4 - Future orientated economical infrastructure: 

  • The dynamic perspectives for innovative service and research industries form an essential new starting point for the city.

Column 5 - Eco-friendly City Landscape and Cultural Region: 

  • Improvement of the existing strength of the region concerning the urban dwellings in combination with attractive nature and a diversity of cultural offers.


  • The Ministries that stayed with their headquarter in Bonn had a close spatial and thematic connection to the existing and the future located institutions. According to the Compensation Measure Bill the reorganisation of ministries should also ensure employment in the region. For the loss of 21.000 working places in the ministries 7.000  jobs were created by e.g. locating other federal agencies in the City. The high public spending that where and are necessary to deal with the duplicity of institutions in two cities where taken into account and at that time being accepted for the advantage of having Berlin back in the game.


  • To cope with the consequences the Government came up with a catalogue of compensation measures in order to not leave Bonn by its own.In June 1994 the Compensation Measure Bill to guarantee a permanent and fair division between Bonn and Berlin was declared.The Federal Ministries were located both in Bonn and Berlin. Either with the headquarter in Bonn and second domicile in Berlin or the other way around. 


  • Today Bonn has more than 310.000 inhabitants with a positive growth prognosis. Since the ending of the Compensation Measure Bill in 2004 the city has good economic conditions to be exposed to intense competition with other cities and regions. 
  • Recently a discussion about the need of having a double seat of governmental institutions became virulent again because of the high public spending. Many politicians question the status of Bonn as a ‘Bundesstadt’ not only due to the fact  that more and more ministries and linked institutions already tend shifting employees and main business fields to Berlin. Thereby Bonn sees a violation of the Bonn-Berlin Act and a major danger for the future prosperity of the region. 
  • Although law regulates the status, Bonn should again think about alternatives to master the possibly upcoming new structural transformation in the future.
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Project info




1994 - 2004


Compensation measures to ensure the future stability of Bonn agglomeration region


Increasing prosperity of the region




Federal Republic of Germany, local authorities