(August 2013) In 2011, following the Fukushima nuclear plant disaster in Japan in the aftermath of the devastating earthquake and tsunami, the German government gave in to public pressure to phase out the nuclear industry and it adopted a goal to also abandon fossil fuels. Two years later, some German's are losing enthusiasm for the shift from nuclear and fossil fuel to mainly wind and sun. While, the policy is still supported by most Germans, the moods of many are slowly changing.
(August 2013) Germany's merchandise trade surplus with the other 16 countries of the Eurozone was only €1.5bn in H1 2013 compared with €75bn with countries outside the EU.
(August 2013) Housing prices in Germany’s biggest cities are rising at the fastest pace since reunification in 1990 as investors seeking to capitalise on growth in Europe’s biggest economy turn to property, according to data compiled by Berlin-based research firm Bulwien Gesa AG. However, there is no bubble.
(June 2013) Germans have been told that cheap labour is no basis on which a rich country should compete. Yet, it has been claimed that has been the basis of the lion's share of Germany's export success in the last dozen years - - and exports have been the sole consistent source of economic growth for Germany over the same period. For too long, the idea that trade surpluses somehow prove a nation's economic worth has persisted in Germany. The resulting false sense of security has combined with the problems of Germany's southern neighbours in the euro area to make it seem that everything in the current coalition's economic policies, and with the German economy, is as good as it needs to be. But it is not.
(June 2013) Many European immigrants from crisis countries to Germany do not stay long, mainly because of problems with the language. Most employers seek a good knowledge of German.
(May 2013) Li Keqiang wrapped up his first official visit abroad as Chinese premier on Monday with a clear and strong message to Europe: more cooperation, less protectionism. In Germany, the last stop of his four-nation tour, Li reiterated China's firm opposition to the European Union's plan to launch a trade probe into Chinese mobile telecommunications products and slap punitive duties on Chinese solar panels. However, The European Union's trade chief bluntly told China on Tuesday it was wasting its time trying to put pressure on him to drop plans to impose punitive import duties on Chinese solar panels. A majority of European countries, led by Germany and the UK, oppose the moves by Karel De Gucht, the EU trade commissioner, to levy tariffs of 47% on solar panel imports from China next month, according to a survey by Reuters.
(May 2013) The solar photovoltaic (PV) market is poised to rise from the ashes of its 2011 crisis and grow to $155bn in 2018, as market forces engineer a turnaround to a healthy 10.5% compound annual growth rate (CAGR). The sun set on Suntech, the aggressive Chinese market leader in March when it filed for bankruptcy, amidst fraud allegations. Meanwhile, a study commissioned by the Alliance for Affordable Solar Energy estimated that up to 242,000 EU jobs could be sacrificed by punitive duties imposed by the EU on China, over three years. Karel De Gucht, EU trade commissioner, is targeting trade that was valued at €21bn in Chinese solar products exported to Europe in 2011. De Gucht has recommended that such products face duties averaging 47% after deciding that Chinese manufacturers illegally dumped their products, or sold them below cost, in Europe.
(May 2013) Siemens, Europe's biggest industrial group, says it would make sense to build solar power plants in sunny countries in Europe rather than in cloudy ones. And wind turbines should be built in windy places.
(May 2013) Reuters reported last month that a few hours after midnight one Sunday in March, as negotiations over a rescue for Cyprus dragged into a second day, Pierre Moscovici, French finance minister, fell asleep. Most Eurozone ministers in Brussels that night failed to notice, continuing to pore over the details of the multi-billion-euro deal. It fell to Christine Lagarde, former French finance minister and currently head of the International Monetary Fund, to approach Moscovici and nudge him awake, according to witnesses at the March 24 talks. It was an apt symbol of the impact in Europe of President François Hollande's government, as it enters its second year of office.
(April 2013) Bayern Munich, the German football club, stunned Spain's Barcelona on Tuesday night with a 4-0 win in the first leg of their Champions League semi-final. However, Uli Hoeness, Bayern Munich's president, has been getting public attention for issues other than sport. He has admitted that he hid money in a Swiss bank account for years without paying taxes on it. It's still not clear exactly how much he was hiding, nor how much he owes in back taxes. But media reports suggest that amount could be several million euros. By turning himself in to tax authorities, Hoeness might get around a sentence which could have included a hefty fine or even a prison sentence. The issue of personal tax havens, tax evasion and massive corporate tax avoidance have been receiving serious attention in recent months from politicians and in France, Jérôme Cahuzac, the budget minister, resigned over allegations of tax fraud, holding a Swiss bank account and money laundering with funds later sent to Singapore to avoid disclosure. Germany, the UK and France are pushing the Group of Eight and the Group of Twenty countries to agree measures that would reduce corporate tax avoidance and earlier this month, Herman Van Rompuy, European Council president, said tax evasion and fraud had been put on the agenda of next month's summit of European Union leaders, saying the region could no longer afford to be complacent when about €1tn is lost in EU member states to tax evasion every year.