The year 2015 is likely to be a big one for Europe’s largest economy.
The fate of the euro and Greece’s participation in it, Europe’s relationship to Russia and Ukraine, the threat of deflation, Germany’s troubled transition to alternative energy, the German government’s insistence on euro zone austerity, the elusive trans-Atlantic trade treaty and Europe’s underfunded digital future, could all be high on the agenda.
The fate of some German industry titans may also be decided this year: Siemens CEO Joe Kaeser, Deutsche Bank co-CEOs Jürgen Fitschen and Anshu Jain, new BMW CEO Harald Krüger and VW brand chief Herbert Diess, and Germany’s longest-serving DAX CEO, Herbert Hainer of Adidas, faces challenges new or old. The future of Germany’s largest utilities – E.ON and RWE – are also less than certain amid the country’s accelerated, disruptive rush toward wind and solar energy. 2015 may even be the year when Berlin’s political leaders dare to wager when the city’s scandal-plagued new airport will actually open – but don’t hold your breath.
Handelsblatt Global Edition presents its list of 10 stories with the potential to shape German business news headlines in 2015.
The Ukraine, Russia End Game
The conflict over the future of Ukraine is certain to occupy political and business leaders in Germany, Russia’s largest trading partner. Sentiment is rising for Germany to withdraw from E.U. economic sanctions placed upon Russia, which are hurting some German exporters. Germany’s chancellor, Angela Merkel, will continue to play a key role in the ultimate outcome, as one of the West’s only intermediaries with regular contact to Russian President Vladimir Putin. So far, Ms. Merkel has toed the West’s tough line against Russia.
Euro Zone Make or Break
The future of Europe’s single currency appears stable heading into 2015, with global financial markets still believing in the magic of Mario Draghi, the Italian economist and president of the European Central Bank. On January 1, the currency zone will even grow from 18 to 19 members, adding Lithuania, which shares a border with Russian enclave Kaliningrad. Mr. Draghi’s controversial plan to begin a U.S.-style quantitative easing purchase of riskier country government debt in 2015 won’t go down easy in conservative Germany, but Mr. Draghi knows how to count votes.