Article 32 (1) of the Constitution states: “Relations with foreign states shall be conducted by the Federal Government”. Following from this Article, the Federal authorities and Parliament are responsible for foreign cultural policy.
Nevertheless, the structures of the cultural relation and education policy reflect the social diversity and independence of the actors: “The Federal Government creates the framework conditions for cultural and educational work abroad through strategic guidelines and give commissions intermediary organisations the task to implement them. The cultural mediators (such as the Goethe-Institute, the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD), the Institute for Foreign Cultural Relations (ifa), the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation (AvH) and the German Commission for UNESCO (DUK)) and partner organisations design their programmes and projects largely under their own responsibility and thus enjoy a higher degree of independence and freedom than in state-organised models. The German missions abroad, provide coordinating support on the ground, thus strengthening the coherence of the various partners.”
Within the Federal Government different ministries are involved: The political guidelines establishing the priorities for foreign cultural policy are formulated and coordinated by the Federal Foreign Office (Auswärtiges Amt). The Federal Government Commissioner for Cultural and Media Affairs (Bundesbeauftragte für Kultur und Medien) is responsible for a number of important fields, for example foreign broadcasting services or the restitution of art works (“looted art”). Also the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) is an stakeholder within the cultural relation and education policy. Other federal ministries as the Ministry for Economic Co-operation and Development (BMZ), the Federal Ministry for Families, Senior Citizens, Women and Youth (BMFSFJ), the Federal Ministery for Economic Affairs and Energy (BMWi), the Federal Ministry of Food and Agriulture (BMEL), the Federal Ministry of Interior, Building and Community (BMI) are also active in foreign cultural policy, although to a much lesser extent than the Federal Foreign Office (AA) and the Federal Government Commissioner for Cultural and Media Affairs (BKM).
There has been a Committee or Sub-Committee for External Cultural Policy in the German Federal Parliament (Deutscher Bundestag) intermittently since 1969. Currently, it is a subcommittee of the Committee on Foreign Affairs. Furthermore, in the 1970s the German Federal Parliament had a Commission of Inquiry on Foreign Cultural Policy.
The most important areas of foreign cultural relations and educational policy (AKBP) as third pillar of foreign policy besides the political and economic relationships are cross border co-operation in education and science, international cultural dialogue, promotion of the German language abroad, and exchanges in the fields of art, music and literature.
With its Coalition Agreement 2018, the Federal Government has strengthened the importance and tasks of the AKBP and given it new priorities. “In the face of shrinking places for civil society worldwide, nationalism and isolation, and a competition of narratives in which fact-based information and communication are sometimes openly questioned, the Federal Government is making its contribution to peace and stability through the AKBP as an integral part of German foreign policy. As part of European integration, the AKBP communicates our values, creates and protects access to culture and education across geographical, social and cultural borders and defends the freedom of art, science and opinion”. The German Bundestag has given the AKBP both new political impetus and increased financial support.
In the 22nd report of the Federal Government on the AKBP Strengthening Europe, protecting open spaces, promoting innovation, the following priorities are listed for the period 2018: Working for freedom of art and science worldwide, cooperation with civil society, further development of strategic communication, strengthening Europe, support for the creative industries and digital initiatives within the framework of the AKBP, especially in Africa, commitment to transatlantic relations.
In 2018, the expenditures of AKBP amounted to 1 877 million EUR, around half of these amounts (56.6%) accounted for the AKBP household (budget) of the Federal Foreign Office.
The relevant bodies of the federal states (Länder) cooperate closely
with the Federal Government in the field of foreign cultural policy.
Municipalities and civil society groups are actively involved in cultural work
 22. Bericht der Bundesregierung zur Auswärtigen Kultur- und Bildungspolitik für das Jahr 2018, p. 9 (translation: Ulrike Blumenreich).
 Ibid., p. 6.