Morning Briefing

Eurowings Earns Respect

In 2015, Lufthansa CEO Carsten Spohr promised to turn Eurowings into Europe’s leading low-cost airline. Many were skeptical of his plans. But today, German rivals Air Berlin, Condor and Tuifly are lined up to come under its wings. Together, they would have a fleet of 250 aircraft to compete with Ryanair’s 392 and Easyjet’s 266. The logic of market consolidation speaks in favor of Spohr’s strategy: He’s turned skepticism into respect.

Martin Schulz, the Social Democrats’ candidate for chancellor, hopes to score points with his “opportunity account.”  Under the scheme, every person beginning a career would get a state-funded “opening deposit” of €20,000 to be used to finance new qualifications and education. It sounds great but is unaffordable. If everyone took advantage of the offer, the state could expect to spend €800 billion, according to estimates by the Bild newspaper, which, by the way, refers to the plan as a lot of “hot air.” This isn’t how you win voters in the middle. They know that they’re the ones who will need to stuff in the rabbit that the magician Schulz wants to pull out of his hat.

Speaking of stuffing, leaders of the Christian Social Union are packing into their very own “Bavarian Plan” everything they couldn’t squeeze into their joint election manifesto with Angela Merkel’s Christian Democrats. The biggest item is an annual cap of 200,000 refugees, which CSU leader Horst Seehofer has been demanding for over a year, but which the chancellor rejects on principle.  The Bavarian lion now looks more like a castrated house cat that wants to roar but can’t – which isn’t a bad thing for German harmony.

Apropos refugees, many are fleeing Africa and risking their lives to enter Europe. Yesterday, Italian officials clashed with the European Union over this costly, dangerous sea crossing to their southern shores. They demanded an end to the EU’s Operation Sophia, in which naval ships rescue refugees and bring them to Italy. Keep them at sea, says Rome.

The problem is that the Balkan route is closed but the Mediterranean Sea passage to Italy remains wide open. The southern EU state no longer wants to carry the main burden of the huge migrations. Already this year, 86,000 refugees have made the crossing – a new record. They remain stuck in Italy because the other EU member states refuse to accept their allocated contingents.

Populism doesn’t help here, because what is popular among Africans and Europeans is very different. In Europe, it’s popular to be against refugees. In Africa, it’s popular to flee. Our populism wants to preserve the status quo, theirs wants to change it. These ideas wash up against each other in the Mediterranean, with corpses floating in their flotsam.

Those seeking a solution need to listen to these fears, hopes and dreams in Africa. After all, we can only maintain the status quo in Europe if we help improve the prospects of those we want to stay in Africa. This isn’t about right or wrong, but about acknowledging the variety of perspectives. The American-German political author Hannah Arendt once encouraged her husband Heinrich Blücher, a German poet and philosopher, not to fight others but to listen, because that’s where reality begins.

Picture of the Day

Swan Upping, the annual census of the swan population on the river Thames, started yesterday. The British tradition of counting the birds and checking their health for one week every year dates back to the 12th century. Source: Steve Parsons/PA WIRE/DPA
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