Germany’s News in English: February 4 – 10
Welcome to the latest edition of MyExpatCommunity news feature for Germany! That’s right, we’ve expanded our scope, following up on the feedback we got from you!
Our goal is to provide you with the most important news of the last two weeks from Germany – so you can stay up to date.
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1. The Future of Hartz IV
13 years after its establishment, the unemployment money regulation, also called Hartz IV, is still causing controversy. It doesn’t only keep the social courts busy, but also the political parties. The Green Party and the SPD want to get rid of the regulation. FDP and Linkspartei also are opting for a reform of the current regulation. The question however is what will replace it. Some politicians have brought up basic income, which is also popular amongst the citizens. No political party feels comfortable to fully support basic income, but aspects of it are integrated into the concepts of various parties.
The SPD, who was the initiator of Hartz IV back in the day, has now presented some reform ideas. They want to change Hartz IV to “Citizens’ Money” and want to create incentives for the unemployed to take up work again. The Green Party has suggested a system based on rewards, without sanctions for those not seeking employment. The Linkspartei has opted to just favor bringing the old unemployment money regulation back. The FDP wants less bureaucracy and to introduce a liberal version of “Citizens’ Money”. They further push for more mini- and part time jobs. The AfD is suggesting a so called “activating basic security”, a financial aid whose amount is tied to salaried and other income of any individual. The CDU is not generally questioning Hartz IV, but is suggesting minor changes, like raising the limit of additional earnings or abstaining from punishment.
Hartz IV was introduced as Arbeitslosengeld II (unemployment money) in 2005. It is a basic security for jobseekers and is paid by the job center.
Source: Die Zeit
2. France and Germany reach compromise over Nord Stream 2
France and Germany have put their fight over the new gas pipeline Nord Stream 2 to rest. Berlin and Paris agreed to a compromise that was already approved by the EU Commission. It states that the responsibility for the pipeline with third countries like Russia lies with the EU country that the pipeline first reaches.
With this agreement, the project is back on track. The French government had previously pulled back, putting the pipeline on the verge of falling through. The other EU countries will now agree together on the new guidelines for the project.
Source: Die Sueddeutsche
3. Germans more satisfied with the work of the government
The approval rates of the CDU-SPD coalition have risen since the government took office. A survey by the ZDF shows that 61 percent of the people are pleased with the government’s work. According to ZDF this is the highest approval rate in eight months.
The SPD is especially benefiting from the survey, their approval rating improved by two percent and now is at 16 percent. The CDU is at 30 percent, the AfD is at twelve percent. The Green Party has 20 percent, Die Linke nine percent, and the FDP eight percent.
4. Social housing: Low rent requirement curtailed
The Federal Supreme Court has ruled that landlords can no longer be required to rent social housing projects at a lower rate forever. Their obligation to honor provide lower rental fees will end after all the government-granted benefits have been used up, which is usually after 15 years.
The ruling was made in a case in the city Langenhagen bei Hannover. The city had granted land to a construction company in 1995 to build 52 social housing apartments, confirming in a contract that these would keep their low rents indefinitely. When subsequently a housing company bought the building and wanted to cancel the contract, they had to take their case to court. The lawsuit was ruled against their favor in the first two instances but the Supreme Court sided with the housing company.
Source: Der Spiegel
5. Berlinale 2019 started this week
On February 7, the 69th Berlinale kicked off at Potsdamer Platz. It is the last festival of director Dieter Kosslick, who will hand over the job after 18 years. During the opening, his work for the festival was honored by several speakers, like the Minister of Culture Monika Grütters (CDU), and host of the evening Anke Engelke and Max Raabe sang a song for him. The movie „The Kindness of Stranger“ by Danish director Lone Scherfig followed up as the official opening movie of the evening.
Stepping into Kosslick’s shoes is the dual leadership of Carlo Chatrian, until now head of the Swiss Festival Locarno, and Mariette Rissenbeek. The festival will be running until February 17, with the prizes handed out by jury president Juliette Binoche and her colleagues during the gala on February 16.
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