The German Association of Cities and Municipalities (DStGB) on Monday called on lawmakers to introduce a tax on package deliveries from large online retailers.
The DStGB said it would help fund the transformation of economically battered municipalities across Germany, as it was “gravely concerned about current developments in city centers and city centers”.
“The pandemic has hit retailers and restaurants hard,” said Association president Ralph Spiegler and CEO Gerd Landsberg. “We have to assume that many businesses across the country will be forced to close, others may never reopen. This means countless job losses,” they said, urging state and local governments to s ‘actively attack the fate of cities.
The jackpot: online retailers cash in during the pandemic
But they also stressed that the pandemic has not only produced losers. “Online retail has benefited and has been able to grow sales to over 72 billion euros ($ 83.6 billion).”
Major online retailers such as Amazon, according to Landsberg, benefit greatly from local infrastructure, but often pay little or no local business taxes. The association says the proposed flat-rate tax should be directly linked to sales volume and calculates that it could generate billions to then invest in local communities.
Addressing the issue of city restructuring, Landsberg said: “The necessary measures will require substantial additional funding. Therefore, we are calling for a delivery tax to involve large online retailers in infrastructure funding.”
“City centers and town centers are the calling card and soul of every community,” Landsberg said. “This is why we need strategies to prevent our cities and our city centers from extinction,” he told the German daily. Handelsblatt.
Urban spaces “will have to fundamentally change”
While the coronavirus may be the most striking real-time example of change in cities, it is just one of many factors indicating an urgent need to rethink the way public spaces are used.
Retail stores have long struggled to survive as online retailers downsized more drastically and house prices continued to rise, but at the same time the effects of climate change made spaces urbanized. unbearable during the hot summer months, as traffic jams, asphalt and lack of shade make them less and less welcoming.
Cities “will have to change fundamentally for people to want to spend time there in the future,” Landsberg said. “We need more experiential spaces, more craftsmen, art, culture and living space, but, when it comes to the necessary climate adjustments, we also need more green and more blue [water] to improve the quality of such stays in increasingly hot summers. “
DStGB chairman Spiegler spoke of “the urgency to act” and called on Germany’s main political parties to quickly come to an agreement in the ongoing coalition talks to give the country a direction. “We need quick decisions, we need clear decisions, so that we know where things are going in the years to come,” he said.
The DStGB is a public association which regularly publishes position statements on issues affecting Germany’s 14,000 towns and municipalities. It is headquartered in Berlin and also has offices in Brussels.
js / jsi (AFP, dpa, Reuters)