Members of the Bundestag are not paid like civil servants or other employees but are holders of a public office. Their conditions of service must be such that all of them can fulfil their mandate regardless of their personal circumstances. The principle of equality of opportunity applies to access to a parliamentary seat.
The office of a Member of the Bundestag, which is generally exercised as a primary occupation, must therefore be remunerated in such a way that it is open to everyone, whether they have hitherto been employees, self-employed persons or freelance professionals. Since the efficiency of the work of Parliament increasingly depends on the availability of Members from all walks of life with all kinds of specialised knowledge, the prospect of an excessive drop in earnings must not deter better-paid people from standing as parliamentary candidates either.
Remuneration must therefore be the same for all Members, must safeguard their independence and must enable them to live in a manner ‘befitting the importance of their office’. That principle was established as a binding norm by the Federal Constitutional Court in 1975 and was applied in the Members of the Bundestag Act (Abgeordnetengesetz) of 1977. The basic precept is that all elected Members should be able to perform their manifold duties as effectively as possible. For that reason, their remuneration is supplemented by what is known as the Amtsausstattung, a set of allowances from which all expenses arising from the fulfilment of a parliamentary mandate are to be met, from expenditure incurred in connection with a constituency office and a second home in Berlin to the cost of office materials.
On 16 November 2007, the Bundestag took a roll-call vote on the proposed 27th Act Amending the Members of the Bundestag Act (Bundestag printed paper 16/6924). The bill was adopted. Once it had received the assent of the Bundesrat and had been signed by the President of the Federal Republic and promulgated in the Federal Law Gazette, the amended version of the Members of the Bundestag Act entered into force on 1 January 2008.