News Bites

Hans-Georg Maassen will not be promoted to the German interior ministry following his dismissal from the domestic intelligence service, Chancellor Angela Merkel’s fractious cabinet decided on Sunday evening after an outcry.

The disgraced former top spy will become a special advisor in the interior ministry, forgoing a controversial promotion and a €30,000 pay raise, the ruling coalition decided after a third emergency meeting to defuse the Maassen affair.

Leading politicians from Germany’s opposition parties have declined to attend a dinner in honor of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan scheduled during his state visit to Berlin next week. Demonstrators across Germany protested against the Turkish leader’s upcoming trip.

A whopping €270 billion in EU subsidies are unused, mostly because member states fail to claim the funds, the European Court of Auditors said. That’s almost twice the annual budget of the European Union.

Steve Bannon, Donald Trump’s former chief strategist, met Czech President Miloš Zeman near Prague Sunday for a chat about Europe and relations with Russia. A German far-right AfD lawmaker, Petr Bystron, attended the meeting.

Up to 7,000 demonstrators protested the planned destruction of the ancient Hambach forest near Aachen to make way for an open-pit coal mine.

Maritime authorities in Panama revoked the registration of the MS Aquarius 2, the last migrant rescue ship currently patrolling the Mediterranean Sea between Libya and Italy. “Reeling” NGOs said the decision followed pressure from Rome.

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Nurali Demir, a German religious figure, was arrested in Turkey on Friday and then released. Another German was released from jail in Turkey. These moves are likely to ease relations ahead of a visit by the Turkish president to Germany next week. (SZ, NDR, WDR)

The European Union is in discussion with Egypt, Morocco, Libya and Tunisia to reach migration deals similar to the one it has with Turkey, Chancellor Angela Merkel said.

The northern district of Emsland declared a catastrophe so it could get outside help to tackle a moor fire that is threatening homes. The fire was started by the army during missile testing on the moor.

Finance Minister Olaf Scholz, speaking ahead of today’s housing summit, said he wants a ban on the conversion of rental accommodation to owner-occupied homes to ease the housing crisis.

Economics Minister Peter Altmaier, speaking ahead of today’s housing summit, said the only way to alleviate Germany’s housing crisis is to speed up construction by relaxing building regulations and approvals.

Germany’s far-right AfD party polled in second place for the first time in the respected monthly ARD-DeutschlandTrend survey. It gained two points to poll at 18%, overtaking the SPD. Angela Merkel’s Conservatives finished on 28%.

The government will support an increase in the housing allowance for low earners at today’s housing summit. The meeting, hosted by Chancellor Angela Merkel, is due to address Germany’s housing crisis.

Some 47% of Germans are in favor of fresh federal elections, a survey revealed. Only 32% expect Angela Merkel to become chancellor again if a new vote is held. (Insa/Bild)

Smooth operator

Merkel’s best-kept secret is her right-hand man Helge Braun

Merkel's chief of staff, a doctor by training, is one of the most powerful people in Germany and young enough to aim for higher office. But hardly anyone has heard of him.

Highly Illogical, Captain

Europeans want more Europe, but less Brussels

The latest YouGov-Handelsblatt survey illustrates Brussels’ publicity problem. Respondents mostly want more Europe, and maybe even a pan-European army, but they don’t like the management one little bit.

Nazi crimes

Greece renews battle for war reparations

Now free of its debt crisis aid package, Greece's government is again pressing Berlin to pay billions in compensation for the death and destruction it suffered under German occupation in WWII.

Electrify me

Germany’s failed e-car policy needs a fix

Widely expected, but now official: Germany will not have 1 million electric cars on the road by 2020. Angela Merkel’s e-car adviser proposes new investments to reach the target, cleverly moving the deadline to 2022.

Good Cop, Bad Cop

Despite different strategies, US, EU and Japan united to curb China

European diplomats are pleased. While the US loudly announces new tariffs on China, the EU is quietly planning more negotiations as the pressure on China increases.

Chemnitz

Domestic spy chief Maassen forced into new, high-ranking role

Chancellor Angela Merkel's coalition removed the controversial head of the country's domestic spy agency but stopped short of firing him to avoid government collapse.

Special place

EU-Swiss talks on new accord stymied by Brexit worries

EU Commissioner Jean-Claude Juncker is pushing for a quick conclusion, but Swiss unions want to preserve some exceptions to EU rules — which the British would also like to have.

navy yards, shipbuilding, german shipmakers

Ahoy there

Shipbuilders pleased as Germany’s new warships cost more than expected

The navy plans to spend more than €20 billion on ships over the next decade, with €5.3 billion alone for four new MKS 180 multiuse corvettes.

New Hires

Foreigners are feeding Germany’s jobs boom

International workers are helping employment to flourish, and businesses want the country’s new immigration law to keep it that way.

Iran sanctions

Europe looks to protect trade with Iran in defiance of Trump

The US wants to force Europe to break business links with Iran. Along with other European partners, the German government is determined to push back against American pressure.

A Coalition Divided

Controversy over Germany’s domestic security chief Maassen escalates

Alleged right-wing sympathies in Germany's security chief Hans-Georg Maassen are driving Berlin’s coalition parties further apart amid deep divisions over immigration.

Merkel vs SPD

Syria intervention becomes Merkel’s latest coalition headache

The latest in a succession of disputes within the German government underscores the chancellor’s weakened grip on power as coalition parties draw conflicting red lines.

hambach forest occupation, RWE, police

Coal clash

RWE getting tired of activists’ Hambach Forest occupation

The energy company wants to raze half of an ancient forest to expand its coal mining operations; environmental activists reject this plan and are sitting in a stalemate.

Tangled web

The EU takes on the internet

The European Parliament voted in favor of two copyright laws: the link tax and an upload filter. Expect the web to change.

german education system, teacher in schoolroom

See me after class

OECD report card on German education: Needs improvement

Germany has made strides in early childhood education but is missing the mark on school funding, secondary qualifications and integration.

Bureaucracy 1.0

Germany lags getting government services online

Berlin pays lip service to digital technology but its latest plan for e-government is already hopelessly behind.

Luftwaffe

German military mission in Syria would be illegal

Berlin appears open to a role in a retaliatory strike but a parliamentary advisory panel says it would be against human rights as well as the country's constitution.

Monitoring the monitors

German domestic spy chief Maassen under pressure to resign

Last week, the head of one of Germany’s most-criticized spy agencies repeated conspiracy theorists. This week, he's under pressure to resign.

Don't make him angry

EU plans to appease Trump on trade

With fresh trade talks with the US looming, Brussels plans to soft-pedal on sensitive issues such as auto tariffs and focus on smaller problems to avoid an escalation of the dispute.

Switching Sides

Germany to help corporate victims of Brexit

Brexit will affect thousands of Germany-based firms that adopted British forms of incorporation. Shareholders risk being made personally liable for the companies unless they convert to German corporate forms.

German angst

Trump is the scariest of them all

An annual survey of “the fears of Germans” reveals that more people are scared of Donald Trump than anything else. Bob Woodward move over.

Replacing Juncker

Manfred Weber’s rocky bid to lead EU Commission

Manfred Weber is bidding to become the first German EU Commission president in over half a century. Despite the strength of his conservative camp, he faces big obstacles.

Ask a German

Handelsblatt explains

Much about Germany is confusing or surprising to foreigners - and even to Germans. Our editors provide clarity.

Alternative energy

Qatar wants to supply gas to Germany, compete with Russia’s Nord Stream 2

The world’s biggest exporter of liquefied natural gas wants to invest in a German LNG terminal. That would reduce Berlin’s dependence on Russian gas and ease Trump’s pipeline envy.

trans-Atlantic tangle

US ambassador pals up with Bavaria’s CSU rightists

Germany’s government is seeking greater independence from Washington. But the CSU and Richard Grenell, Trump’s man in Berlin, are pledging stronger ties.

handelsblatt explains

German political parties

Angela Merkel’s Christian Democrats have started coalition talks with the Free Democrats and The Greens to form a new government. What do these parties stand for?

germany energy grid cyberattacks

Crash override

German power firms steel themselves for cyberattacks

A total blackout of the European grid can’t be ruled out, Germany's information security agency says, and cyberattacks often happen in a roundabout way, making them difficult to detect.

Crime as a business

German business balks at corporate crime law

Unlike the US and most European countries, Germany has no law to prosecute entire companies for wrongdoing. Only individual employees can be punished. That’s about to change.

germany defense spending, bundeswehr

Military Force

Germany outlines radical hike in defense spending

Germany plans to hike its defense budget by 40 percent to €60 billion between 2019 and 2023, according to a confidential procurement plan to be presented to lawmakers today.

pensions for populists

No ‘German Trumps’ if federal finance minister can help it

Germany’s finance minister is trying to do as he did when he was Hamburg’s mayor: please his left-wing supporters and the center at the same time. But it’s a tough balancing act to follow.

Anti-constitutional

Politicians want opposition monitored for neo-Nazi links

After right-wing violence last week, Germans believe a special security agency should be spying on the opposition party, Alternative for Germany. But will such monitoring, from an agency with no powers of arrest, have any impact?

cartel regulations

Economics minister wants more power over upstarts

Governments, having learned from Google, Amazon and Facebook, want the ability to step in and stunt the growth of emerging giants before they stifle the competition.