German Finance – Kafkas Diasporasi Wed, 23 Nov 2022 22:59:02 +0000 en-US hourly 1 German Finance – Kafkas Diasporasi 32 32 V20 and the G7 launch an initiative to address climate risks in vulnerable countries | News | SDG Knowledge Center Wed, 23 Nov 2022 22:59:02 +0000

The Vulnerable Group of 20 (V20) of finance ministers and the Group of Seven (G7) have launched the Global Climate Risk Shield – “a pre-packaged financial support initiative designed for rapid deployment in times of climate disasters”. Initial contributions exceed €210 million, including around €170 million from Germany and more than €40 million from other countries.

V20 research shows that 98% of the nearly 1.5 billion people in V20 countries lack financial protection, and since 2000, V20 countries have lost $525 billion to climate impacts. Rising costs of capital and debt are worsening the situation in climate-vulnerable countries.

The Global Shield, launched at the Sharm El-Sheikh Climate Change Conference (UNFCCC COP 27) on November 14, 2022, addresses weaknesses in the financial protection framework in climate-vulnerable economies through pre-arranged finance disbursed before or just after disasters. It expands financial protection instruments for governments, communities, businesses and households, making vulnerable economies resilient, safeguarding sustainable development and protecting lives and livelihoods in the aftermath of disasters.

The Global Shield understand:

  • strengthening coordination within the global climate and disaster risk financing and insurance architecture within the G7 and V20 and other economies vulnerable to climate change, ensure coherence of institutional and donor efforts at global, regional and national levels;
  • a global, flexible and collaborative funding structure to mobilize and pool funds from donors and others and enable a more systematic comprehensive approach to closing protection gaps; and
  • sustainable protection against increasing climate risks by scaling up existing successful programs, including social protection schemes, and preparing country-specific, needs-based support programs, including premium scaling up solutions and capital support to overcome barriers to affordability.

According to a Press release, the Global Shield will align with vulnerable countries’ strategies to close protection gaps using a wide range of instruments, including livestock and crop insurance, property insurance, property loss insurance operations, risk-sharing networks and credit guarantees at the household and enterprise level. At the level of national and sub-national governments, humanitarian agencies and non-governmental organizations (NGOs), the Global Shield “will support the integrated development of instruments used to ensure that money is available when needed (money in) and process to ensure that money is spent on providing what affected individuals and communities need when they need it most (money).

Global Shield’s financing structure includes three complementary funds: the Global Shield Solutions Platform, which is based on InsuResilience Solutions Fund; the World Bank’s Global Shield financing mechanism; and the Climate Vulnerable Forum (CVF) and the V20 Joint Multi-Donor Fund.

Led by the Global Shield High Level Advisory Group, which includes representatives from the V20, G7, Group of 20 (G20), think tanks, civil society, multilateral organizations and the private sector, the initiative begins its implementation immediately after COP 27 The first recipients of Global Shield packages – called “Pathfinder Countries” – are Bangladesh, Costa Rica, Fiji, Ghana, Pakistan, Philippines and Senegal.

As part of the Global Shield, the German and UK governments are supporting the ‘Tomorrow’ part of the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF)’Today and tomorrowinitiative – an integrated climate change finance solution combining “funding for immediate climate resilience and risk prevention programs for today’s children with innovative use of market-provided risk transfer finance.” ‘insurance for tomorrow’s hurricane disasters’. In its three-year pilot project, the UNICEF initiative, launched on November 16, will focus on Bangladesh, Comoros, Haiti, Fiji, Madagascar, Mozambique, Solomon Islands and Vanuatu.

The 58 members of the V20 are Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Barbados, Benin, Bhutan, Burkina Faso, Cambodia, Chad, Colombia, Comoros, Costa Rica, Ivory Coast, Republic Democratic Republic of Congo, Dominican Republic, Eswatini, Ethiopia, Fiji, Gambia, Ghana, Grenada, Guatemala, Guinea, Guyana, Haiti, Honduras, Kenya, Kiribati, Kyrgyzstan, Lebanon, Liberia, Madagascar, Malawi, Maldives, Marshall Islands, Mongolia, Morocco, Nepal, Nicaragua, Niger, Palau, Palestine, Papua New Guinea, Philippines, Rwanda, Saint Lucia, Samoa, Senegal, South Sudan, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Tanzania, Timor-Leste, Tunisia, Tuvalu, Uganda, Vanuatu, Viet Nam and Yemen.

The G7 is made up of Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom and the United States, with the EU also participating in group meetings. [About Global Shield against Climate Risks] [UN News Story]

Appointment of Steffen Kindler as CFO of Holcim Fri, 18 Nov 2022 05:40:00 +0000 Holcim’s Board of Directors has appointed Steffen Kindler as Holcim’s Chief Financial Officer (CFO) and member of the Group Executive Committee, effective May 1, 2023. Kindler will succeed current Chief Financial Officer Géraldine Picaud, who decided to pursue other opportunities outside of the company. To ensure a smooth transition, Picaud will oversee the completion of Holcim’s 2022 annual results and conduct a thorough handover.


Steffen Kindler joins Holcim from Nestlé, where he held positions of increasing responsibility over the past 25 years, most recently serving as CFO for Nestlé Germany. His broad experience spans key business roles, including VP Finance and Control of Nestlé Beverages USA, based in Los Angeles; CFO of Nestlé Waters Europe, based in Paris; as well as responsibility for business development, based in the New York Metropolitan area. In addition, Kindler held roles of global responsibility for key corporate functions such as investor relations and mergers & acquisitions, based in Vevey. Building on his successful track record, Kindler is well-positioned to lead Holcim to its next level of financial performance.


Géraldine Picaud joined Holcim as CFO and member of the Executive Committee in 2018. She played an instrumental role in building Holcim’s strong financial position while supporting the company’s ongoing transformation. Under her leadership, the finance function capitalized on Holcim’s strong growth and record results to deliver a strong balance sheet and shareholder returns, while leading the integration of sustainability into Group finance.


Jan Jenisch, CEO: “I personally thank Géraldine for her commitment and contributions to Holcim over the past five years. The solid foundations you see today — especially Holcim’s strong balance sheet, solid credit ratings and integration of sustainable finance — are all testimony to her leadership. I wish her much continued success in her future endeavors.


“I am excited to welcome Steffen Kindler to the team. With his vast financial expertise and geographic experience, I am confident he will fit in well with Holcim’s performance-driven culture. Steffen is an ideal partner to contribute to our continued success as we become the global leader in innovative and sustainable building solutions, with a focus on superior value creation for all our stakeholders.”






Steffen Kindler, a 52-year old German citizen, is married and has three children. He holds a degree in Business Administration and Computer Science (Diplom Wirtschaftsinformatik) from the University of Mannheim.


Steffen joins Holcim from Nestlé, where he held positions of increasing responsibility over the past 25 years, including:


CFO, Nestlé Germany, 2018 to May 2023, Frankfurt, Germany


Head of Investor Relations, Nestlé, 2015 to 2017, Vevey, Switzerland


Senior Advisor, Corporate Mergers & Acquisitions, Nestlé, 2014, Vevey, Switzerland


VP Finance and Control, Nestlé Beverages USA, 2011 to 2013, Los Angeles, USA


CFO, Nestlé Waters Europe, 2007 to 2011, Paris, France


Senior Finance Manager, Nestlé Waters North America, 2005 to 2007, Greater New York Metropolitan area, USA


Customer Service Director, Nestlé Waters Germany, 2003 to 2005, Mainz, Germany


Head of Controlling, Nestlé Waters Germany, 2001 to 2003, Mainz, Germany


Internal Auditor, Nestlé Germany, 1998 to 2001, Frankfurt, Germany


Please find the photo for download here.

About Holcim


Holcim builds progress for people and the planet. As a global leader in innovative and sustainable building solutions, Holcim is enabling greener cities, smarter infrastructure and improving living standards around the world. With sustainability at the core of its strategy Holcim is becoming a net zero company, with its people and communities at the heart of its success. The company is driving circular construction as a world leader in recycling to build more with less. Holcim is 70,000 people around the world who are passionate about building progress for people and the planet through four business segments: Cement, Ready-Mix Concrete, Aggregates and Solutions & Products.


Learn more about Holcim on, and by following us on LinkedIn and Twitter.

Important disclaimer — forward-looking statements:


This document contains forward-looking statements. Such forward-looking statements do not constitute forecasts regarding results or any other performance indicator, but rather trends or targets, as the case may be, including with respect to plans, initiatives, events, products, solutions and services, their development and potential. Although Holcim believes that the expectations reflected in such forward-looking statements are based on reasonable assumptions as at the time of publishing this document, investors are cautioned that these statements are not guarantees of future performance. Actual results may differ materially from the forward-looking statements as a result of a number of risks and uncertainties, many of which are difficult to predict and generally beyond the control of Holcim, including but not limited to the risks described in the Holcim’s annual report available on its website ( and uncertainties related to the market conditions and the implementation of our plans. Accordingly, we caution you against relying on forward-looking statements. Holcim does not undertake to provide updates of these forward-looking statements.


This document contains inside information within the meaning of the Market Abuse Regulation (EU) (No 596/2014).


View source version on

CONTACT: Media Relations:

+41 (0) 58 858 87 10

Investor Relations:

+41 (0) 58 858 87 87

SOURCE: Holcim Copyright Business Wire 2022

Germans who turn 18 will be offered a ‘birthday gift’ with a €200 culture pass | Germany Tue, 15 Nov 2022 19:31:00 +0000

Young Germans are to join other Europeans in being offered a voucher to spend on their choice of cultural offerings under a scheme launched by the government.

The 200 € Kulturpasswho will be made available to all 18-year-olds, has a dual purpose: to encourage young adults to experience live culture and abandon pandemic habits of staying at home; and give a financial boost to the art scene, which has yet to recover from repeated blockages.

German Culture Minister Claudia Roth described the cultural passport as “equivalent to a birthday present” for the 750,000 people who will turn 18 in 2023. It will bring the most populous country closer to EU of France, Italy and Spain, which have introduced similar schemes.

Finance Minister Christian Lindner described the pass as “cultural start-up capital” which its beneficiaries can use within two years for everything from theater and concert tickets to books or music. It will be run through an app and website that will provide a direct connection to a virtual marketplace of everything from bookstores to theaters.

The estimated cost to the German state is around €100 million, in addition to the country’s annual cultural budget of €2.3 billion.

There is a particular focus on live culture, with theaters and concert halls expected to use the program to recruit new viewers as they compete for revenue.

Online platforms such as Amazon and Spotify have been excluded from the program, which focuses on smaller, often local organizations such as independent cinemas and bookstores. Individual purchases will be limited in value to prevent someone using the voucher to purchase, for example, a single concert ticket for €200.

Start the KulturpassRoth and Lindner said if successful, the program would be scaled up and likely extended to a wider age group, possibly starting at age 15.

A similar scheme, announced last year by Spain’s Socialist-led coalition government, offers young people a €400 culture check when they turn 18. According to the Spanish government, 57.6% of everyone who turned 18 in 2022 signed up for the voucher program in its first year.

The Pass Culture France, or youth culture pass, a promise from President Emmanuel Macron’s 2017 election campaign, was tested nationwide the following year and – after a long delay due to the pandemic – officially launching in 2021.

The app-based pass gives each 18-year-old €300 to spend on cinema, museum, theater and concert tickets, as well as books, art materials, art lessons, musical instruments or a subscription to a French digital platform such as Canal Plus, Salto or, for music, Deezer.

This year, the system of 200 million euros per year has been extended to those over 15, in two parts: a collective allowance of (depending on age) 25 to 30 euros per pupil and per year available to teachers for classroom visits to exhibitions, films, plays, concerts or workshops, plus €20-30 that each teenager can spend individually.

In 2016, Italy has introduced a “cultural bonus” of €500 for every 18-year-old under Prime Minister Matteo Renzi, it has been maintained by the culture ministry despite various changes of government since then and an attempt by populist leaders to scrap it in 2018.

83% of those who adopted it spent the money on books followed by musical products and concert tickets, according to the Ministry of Culture.

Roth said the German pass would open up a range of cultural opportunities for young people comparable to the Interrail pass, a train ticket that has enabled generations of Europeans to travel cheaply across the continent.

Olaf Zimmermann, chairman of the German Cultural Council, an umbrella organization representing more than 200 cultural associations, said the voucher was a “meaningful way to support both young people and the world of culture who have suffered particularly badly from the pandemic”. . But he said working out what young adults could spend was “likely to be complicated” and should cover as many areas as possible, from drawing lessons to buying a musical instrument.

He urged the Ministry of Culture to clarify its guidelines soon, “to ensure that this is really a birthday present for future 18-year-olds”.

UPDATE 1-German Scholz promises more air defense aid to Ukraine Fri, 11 Nov 2022 19:45:34 +0000

(Adds Scholz’s comments)

LEIPZIG, Germany, Nov 11 (Reuters) – Chancellor Olaf Scholz said Germany’s priority in helping Ukraine should be helping it defend against Russian air raids on its cities and to help rebuild its infrastructure.

He added in an interview with RND newspapers on Friday that Europe should prepare to receive more refugees from Ukraine, which has been fighting a Russian invasion since February 24.

“Russia is bombing Ukraine’s energy infrastructure. Russia wants to make sure Ukrainians can’t survive the winter cold,” he said in an on-stage interview. “We are currently discussing with many German companies what they can do to counter this destruction.”

The air defense systems Germany has sent to Ukraine have so far played a key role in minimizing destruction, but Germany will work with partners to send more, he added.

Earlier, Scholz had agreed in a call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy that Germany would continue to send air defense systems.

Scholz told the audience that he was convinced that, however diplomatically Western leaders had tried to avoid war as the Russian invasion approached, President Vladimir Putin had long been fixed in its path.

“I am convinced that Putin decided on this war two years ago,” he said. “We saw the build-up of troops… We hoped it was just threatening gestures, but it wasn’t: it was a long war to plan.” (Reporting by Andreas Rinke in Leipzig, Writing by Thomas Escritt; Editing by Matthias Williams and Sandra Maler)

Georgia law enforcement and international partners solve transnational call center fraud Wed, 09 Nov 2022 10:48:00 +0000

Georgia’s attorney general’s office said Wednesday it solved a transnational crime involving fraudulent call center services in conjunction with law enforcement from seven partner nations.

As part of the effort, German and Georgian law enforcement carried out investigative activities at dozens of locations across Georgia, the office said, along with about 60 German law enforcement professionals. and 300 Georgians involved in the “large-scale operation”. several months of joint preparation.

Five fraudulent call center operations, dozens of individuals involved, as well as their apartments, cars and workplaces were searched as part of the effort, along with hundreds of electronic media, documents and a “large amount” of money seized as a result, the state agency announced.

Property obtained through the fraudulent operations through criminal means and funds placed by them in their bank accounts were also confiscated, while one of the group’s organizers was arrested.

The group’s activities involved setting up businesses in different countries, including Georgia, before organizing fraudulent call center services and appropriating “millions of dollars” from state citizens. EU members, including Germany, the office said.

The members of the criminal group created e-commerce platforms under different brands, which ensured the placement of funds obtained fraudulently from customers in the bank accounts of the fictitious companies.

The latest effort comes after Georgian law enforcement, in cooperation with their German counterparts, in October 2021 arrested seven members of an international criminal group in Georgia who fraudulently embezzled ‘millions of euros’ from German citizens and laundered illegal income.

The arrests came after a group of Georgian and Israeli citizens set up six limited liability companies and ran a fraudulent call center service from 2015 to target citizens of various European countries.

The energy question divides the German government – ​​DW – 11/05/2022 Sun, 06 Nov 2022 18:19:16 +0000

Hydraulic fracturing has become the latest issue to test Chancellor Olaf Scholz’s coalition government, after Finance Minister Christian Lindner raised the possibility of lifting Germany’s partial ban last week.

“We have considerable gas reserves in Germany that can be extracted without endangering drinking water,” the leader of the neoliberal Liberal Democratic Party (FDP) told Funke Media Group. Mining could be “responsible under ecological conditions,” Lindner said, before asserting that it would actually be more “irresponsible to give up fracking out of ideological commitment.”

Lindner stands in front of a blue backdrop in a striped tie with his hands in front of him
After pushing to extend nuclear power’s lifeline, Lindner now wants frackingImage: Oliver Berg/dpa/picture alliance

The mining method – fracturing bedrock by injecting water and chemicals into it to release gas – was partially banned in Germany in 2016. European Union (CDU) insisted it remains a viable way to find new fossil fuels on German soil.

The Environment Ministry, led by Steffi Lemke of the Green Party, was quick to reject Lindner’s idea. “Fracking gas harms the climate and extracting it harms the environment,” a ministry spokesperson told the RND news network. Its extraction was banned in Germany “for a good reason”, he said.

Image showing how fracking works
How Fracking Works

Is fracking an option?

This was backed by Mathias Koch, policy adviser on Germany’s energy transition at E3G, an independent climate change think tank in Berlin. “At a time when fracking could make a significant contribution to Germany’s energy supply, we can already save a lot more by insulating buildings and installing heat pumps,” he told DW. “It’s irresponsible to distract from real solutions by dragging yet another non-problem to the fore.”

Germany theoretically has enough natural gas on its own territory to cover 20% of the country’s needs, but only half is “economically viable”, according to the oil and gas industry association BVEG. On top of that, BVEG told broadcaster ARD in April that it would take three years of exploration just to figure out where the new extraction sites should be, let alone start pumping gas out of the ground.

Other issues with hydraulic fracturing are the unavoidable environmental damage, the danger of releasing methane (a gas even more dangerous to the climate than CO2) and even the threat of triggering earthquakes. All these factors explain why hydraulic fracturing is also unpopular: a survey by infratest pollster dimap from August 2022 found that only around one in four Germans favor hydraulic fracturing on their national soil, compared to more than half in Germany. favor of the extension of nuclear energy.

Fracking in Colorado
Germany to import fracked gas from US to offset Russian natural gas importsImage: Brennan Linsley/AP Photo Alliance/Image

Driven by political need

Many observers suspect that Lindner’s intervention was rooted in political worries rather than concerns about Germany’s energy supply. The FDP, mainly a center-right neoliberal party, struggled in regional elections: it lost more than half of its vote share in North Rhine-Westphalia in May and completely abandoned the parliament of state of Lower Saxony in a disastrous election last month.

In response, Lindner increasingly seems to be articulating opposing positions by the center-left parties he shares government with: Scholz’s Social Democrats and the Greens.

It’s a risky move that could destabilize the coalition, but Karl-Heinz Paque, chairman of the FDP-affiliated Friedrich Naumann Foundation and currently a member of the party’s federal executive committee, told DW that Lindner’s move was based on principles rather than on political expediency.

“The FDP is fundamentally open to technology, and that of course includes fracking,” he said. “I’m not an expert, but what I’ve read suggests that there are new forms of technology in this area. I don’t see that relating to a coalition discussion.”

Paque said disagreements are normal in any coalition. “The Greens have ideas that we don’t share, we have ideas that the Greens don’t share, and we have to compromise within the coalition,” he said, before emphasizing that the Union conservative Christian Democrat (CDU) was itself internally divided on fracking.

Fracking in your own backyard?

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It’s no secret that the FDP is generally more comfortable in a coalition with the CDU, both politically and historically. “Of course it’s not an easy situation for us,” Paque said. “A lot of our constituents don’t particularly like this coalition.”

There is also no doubt that the ambitious modernization plans the new government put into its contract last December, many of which were led by the FDP, have been thwarted by the war in Ukraine. Just as the Greens had to compromise on fossil fuels, the FDP had to compromise on its budgetary principles: Finance Minister Lindner found himself spending a lot more public money: on defense in particular, but also to protect businesses and people against spiraling energy costs.

Paque said the FDP stayed behind its leader: “Lindner is a very strong leadership figure, and he got the party out of quite a few crises.”

But Mathias Koch was damning for the noise Lindner makes. “This is yet another attempt by the FDP to regain ground by blowing a minor issue into the debate, much like the week-long squabbles over nuclear extension,” he said. “They now seem to be more and more targeting the last voters who want to see the energy transition slowed down.”

Edited by: Rina Goldenberg

While You’re Here: Every Tuesday, DW editors round up what’s happening in German politics and society. You can sign up for the weekly Berlin Briefing email newsletter here.

European stocks up; German factory orders highlight economic risks Fri, 04 Nov 2022 10:50:56 +0000

By Peter Nurse – European stock markets traded higher on Friday as momentum generated by a positive tone in Asia on the reopening of speculation in China overshadowed weakness in German factory orders.

At 04:40 ET (08:40 GMT), the DAX futures contract in Germany was trading up 0.7%, the CAC 40 futures contract in France climbed 0.8% and the FTSE 100 futures contract in the Kingdom United rose 0.7%.

European stocks received a boost from strong gains in Asia on Friday following renewed speculation of an imminent easing of China’s COVID-19 restrictions, potentially boosting economic activity in the world’s second-largest economy and a major market in China. European export.

The Hang Seng Index in Hong Kong closed more than 5% higher, while China’s blue-chip Shanghai Shenzhen CSI 300 Index jumped 3.2% and the Shanghai Composite Index jumped 2, 6%, both trading around three-week highs.

Such a change would be positive for the global economy, a boost that Europe particularly needs due to a collapse in German factory orders suggested that the eurozone’s largest economy is rapidly heading into recession.

New data showed orders for Germany’s key manufacturing sector slumped 4.0%, their sixth drop in the past seven months and the biggest drop since March.

Services Eurozone activity data is due later in the session and should show that this sector remains firmly in contraction territory.

The key data release for the day, however, will be the US payrolls report, which is expected to show that non-agricultural payroll increased by 200,000 jobs in October. An upside surprise could cement another big Fed hike in December.

In the corporate sector, Societe Generale SA (EPA:SOGN) shares rose 4.2% after the third-listed French bank joined its European rivals in posting higher-than-expected net profit in the third quarter, the market volatility that boosted trading revenue.

Telefonica Inc (BME:TEF) stock rose 1.9% after the Spanish telecom operator reiterated its full-year financial guidance and dividend commitments despite headwinds from the surge in inflation and slowing economic growth.

Oil prices rose on Friday, helped by a falling dollar and fresh speculation that China plans to ease COVID-related restrictions, as traders await news on whether a price cap will be passed on Russian exports, a plan to cut funding from Moscow without cutting off supply to consumers.

Reuters reported Thursday evening that the G7 nations and Australia had agreed to set a fixed price when they finalize a price cap on Russian oil later this month, rather than adopt a floating rate.

As of 4:40 a.m. ET, U.S. crude futures were trading up 2.2% at $90.13 a barrel, while the Brent contract was up 2% at $96.56.

Both benchmarks are on course for a positive week, with supply seen as tight, illustrated by falling US crude inventories, even as recession fears raise demand worries.

Additionally, gold futures were up 1.2% at $1,649.80 an ounce, while EUR/USD traded up 0.3% at 0.9778.

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EUROPE POWER-Spot stable to higher at the end of the holidays Tue, 01 Nov 2022 10:56:12 +0000

FRANKFURT, Nov 1 (Reuters) – European power prices were flat in Germany on Tuesday and higher in France as the November 1 holiday in parts of the region was set to end and temperatures were expected to drop after a mild October.

“Wind and solar energy are increasing day by day, but the increase in renewable energy production is offset by a physiological sharp increase in consumption,” Refinitiv analysts said.

German baseload for Wednesday delivery traded at 78 euros ($77.52) per megawatt hour (MWh) at 10:30 GMT, unchanged from Monday’s close, while the equivalent French price gained 3.2 % at 104.3 euros.

According to data from Refinitiv Eikon, temperatures fell 1.8 degrees Celsius in Germany in one day to 10.6 degrees and 1.7 degrees in France to 13.4 degrees.

Daily electricity consumption in Germany is expected to increase by 5.3 gigawatts (GW) to 57.5 GW. That in France was seen to decrease by 1.1 GW to 43 GW on Wednesday.

Nuclear capacity in France gained one point to 51% of installed capacity and in Germany, the Isar 2 reactor joined the network.

On the forward curve, German one-year base load lost 4.4% to 357 euros/MWh, following lower carbon.

The equivalent French position was not traded after closing at 470 euros.

Germany will this week finalize the recommendations of a gas expert commission for a cap on gas prices to help consumers cope and encourage industry to stay in the country and preserve the jobs.

German industry cut gas consumption by nearly a fifth last month, after a slump in Russian gas exports sparked a continent-wide energy crisis that sent oil prices soaring. energy, according to a study by the Hertie school.

A note published by internet portal Check24 on Monday showed that an average German household consuming 5,000 kilowatt hours (kWh) of electricity paid 2,187 euros for an annual supply contract in October.

This exceeded the price observed in October 2021 (1,556 euros) by 41%. ($1 = 1.0062 euros) (Reporting by Vera Eckert; Editing by Shailesh Kuber)

Germany can and must pave the way for EU energy solidarity | Opinions Sat, 29 Oct 2022 14:03:45 +0000

Winter is coming to Europe and with it high energy prices, which could see many Europeans struggling to keep their homes warm. Still, it seems that Germany has its citizens covered. On September 29, Chancellor Olaf Scholz presented a plan for a 200 billion euro ($197 billion) energy package, which caused a stir across the European Union.

Although other EU countries used public subsidies to contain energy costs, none could afford the amount allocated by the German government. It was seen as a unilateral decision at a time when Brussels was looking for a common response to the energy crisis. From west to east and south, Berlin’s decision was heavily criticized.

French President Emmanuel Macron has said Germany risks “isolating itself” after failing to adequately coordinate its response to the energy crisis with the rest of the EU. Former Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi saw the package as a divisive move. Less diplomatic, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban called it “cannibalism”.

For Berlin, this financial stimulus seemed proportional to the size and vulnerability of the German economy. According to data from the European Commission, Germany’s projected gross domestic product (GDP) growth in 2022 is 1.4%, which is rather modest compared to other EU countries. Italy is expected to grow by 2.9%, France by 2.4%, the Netherlands by 3% and Hungary by 5.2%.

Certainly, negative economic trends in Germany, which is the EU’s largest economy, will also have undesirable repercussions for the rest of the bloc. After all, 64% of German imports come from EU member states and the country has been one of the biggest contributors to the EU budget and its post-COVID recovery plan.

Germany has been massively affected by the energy crisis. Prior to the large-scale Russian invasion of Ukraine in February, the country bought 55% of its gas from Russia. At the moment, it does not import gas from Moscow.

After an explosion knocked the Nord Stream 1 gas pipeline out of service and Nord Stream 2 never came on stream, Germany had to start buying more gas from other more expensive suppliers. Gas is still the main source of energy, covering about 27% and is therefore a major factor determining the final price of electricity. This is certainly having an unprecedented effect on the costs incurred by the industrial sector, which itself contributes 23.4% of German GDP.

The announcement of the energy package was undoubtedly dictated not only by economic concerns but also by domestic political considerations.

With 62% of Germans unhappy with Scholz’s performance, he needed to increase his political legitimacy by supporting German households and businesses at all costs, even at the cost of ignoring the consequences this could have at the EU level.

The fallout from the announcement of the energy package reflected not only the tension between Germany’s internal political dynamics and the responsibility it bears as the “de facto” leader of the EU, but also an ideological divide -South on how to deal with economic crises. While the South pushes for more economic integration and solidarity, the North is reluctant to pay for what it sees as economic mismanagement by the South.

In a editorial criticizing the German energy package, European Commissioner for the Economy Paolo Gentiloni and Commissioner for Competition Thierry Breton stressed the importance of creating a European plan to deal with the energy crisis and avoid a race for state subsidies, which would fragment and undermine the single market. According to them, to help member states cope with rising energy prices, the EU should adopt a new SURE plan, a financial instrument applied during the pandemic to support national interventions against unemployment.

However, countries in the North, such as the Netherlands, see the idea of ​​a European fund as anti-competitive and dangerous. According to her, this could open the door to a pooling of national debt at EU level. In other words, the Netherlands does not want to share its repayment obligations with countries like Italy, whose national debt is close to 150% of its GDP.

What is clear to everyone, however, is that if internal tensions over the energy crisis escalate, it will play into Russia’s Vladimir Putin’s hands. Already, Hungary, which opposes EU sanctions against Moscow, has struck special deals with Russian energy giant Gazprom to defer gas payments for the next six months, if the price rises above a certain threshold.

This agreement would not only help Budapest through the winter, but it could also set a dangerous precedent. This could encourage other EU states to strike energy deals with Russia and thus undermine European unity over the sanctions regime.

Although the German package has caused friction with other EU members, it may have an upside. It appears to have caused anxiety that has pushed EU states to take the search for a common solution more seriously.

There seems to be a realization that allowing divisions to grow and delaying a common economic response could lead to higher costs for everyone, both in terms of economic loss and geopolitical insecurity.

This became clear during the working session of the European Council on 20 and 21 October. As EU Council President Charles Michel noted, EU member countries have demonstrated “a strong and unanimous commitment to act together”.

Among the measures discussed were energy conservation strategies, bulk gas purchases, a temporary cap on gas prices in power generation and a temporary dynamic price corridor on natural gas transactions.

In addition, EU states have agreed on the need to encourage energy solidarity measures and to mobilize all relevant tools at national and European level to protect Europeans from the crisis. Although they did not clearly refer to the creation of a European energy fund, they left room to discuss it again.

The European Commission must present concrete plans to implement the above proposals and another European Council is likely to be held to take them forward.

Meanwhile, Elisa Ferreira, the European Commissioner for Cohesion and Reforms, also announced plans to allow member states to redirect up to 40 billion euros ($39 billion) under the policy of cohesion 2014-2020 to help households, small and medium-sized enterprises and even large industries. struggling with high energy prices. It may not be a mutual fund, but it’s a step in the right direction.

Now may also be the time for Germany to stop feeling uncomfortable with its leadership role in the EU and recognize that it has enough political and economic power to lead the way. development of a common policy on the energy crisis. It can demonstrate its commitment to European unity by becoming a bridge between North and South and advocating a more integrated, politically strategic and economically advantageous approach.

A lack of agreement within the EU would lead to higher gas prices, which would not only worsen the expected recession, but also give Putin even more energy revenue to fund his war in Ukraine. In other words, it would be a major European political and economic failure that even Germany cannot afford.

The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial position of Al Jazeera.

Switzerland to consider new German request to allow arms re-exports to Ukraine Thu, 27 Oct 2022 10:43:11 +0000

ZURICH (Reuters) – Germany has made another request to neutral Switzerland to allow it to re-export Swiss-made munitions to Ukraine for use in its war against Russia, after being rebuffed earlier this year.

A spokesman for Switzerland’s economic affairs department said a letter to this effect had been received from the German Defense Ministry, adding that Economic Affairs Minister Guy Parmelin “will respond to this letter in due course”. The spokesman declined to say whether Ukraine had also made representations to the Swiss government.

A Defense Ministry spokesman in Berlin declined to comment on the letter, saying Germany was still in constructive talks with its partners. The country supplied 30 Gepard tanks to Ukraine and some 60,000 cartridges.

In April, Bern vetoed the re-export of Swiss-made ammunition used by Gepard anti-aircraft tanks. The 35mm shells were originally supplied by Swiss companies to the German military decades ago, but their re-export was blocked after the Swiss government said the deliveries would violate Swiss neutrality law.

Explaining its position in June, the government said that “on the basis of the export criteria described in the War Material Act and the principle of equal treatment under the Neutrality Act, Switzerland cannot approve requests for the transfer of war material produced in Switzerland to Ukraine”.

German Defense Minister Chistine Lambrecht has written to her Swiss counterpart, Viola Amherd, asking her to reconsider her decision, the Swiss newspaper Tages-Angzeiger reported on Thursday.

Ukraine has also asked Bern to allow deliveries, according to the newspaper.

The eight-month conflict in Ukraine has seen Switzerland stray from its normal stance of complete non-alignment, with Bern mirroring nearly all of the sanctions the European Union has imposed on Moscow.

The change led Russia to refuse a Swiss offer to represent Ukrainian interests in Russia and Moscow’s interests in Ukraine, as it no longer considers Switzerland a neutral country.

Last month, Switzerland announced that it would temporarily suspend the exchange of tax information with Russia and make it more difficult for Russian citizens to obtain visas.

(Reporting by John Revill in Zurich; Additional reporting by Sabine Siebold; Editing by Frances Kerry)