News Bites

Andrea Nahles was elected to lead the center-left Social Democrats, or SPD, during an extraordinary party meeting on Sunday, the first female leader in nearly 155 years. She won 66.4% of the vote, the second-worst post-war result.

Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen wants to upgrade Germany’s military but is likely to lack funds beyond 2019 despite a budget increase to €42.4 billion per year by 2021 from €37 billion in 2017.

Germany wastes 18 million tons of food a year, according to a new study by environmental organization WWF. About half of that could be saved and the government must do more to reach that goal by 2030, WWF said.

A senior criminal investigator told a Berlin commission of inquiry that the terrorist Anis Amri, who drove a truck into a city Christmas market in 2016, could have been stopped. Amri was under surveillance that year but there were not enough observation teams to continue monitoring him.

Sixty MEPs called for a boycott of the World Cup soccer tournament in Russia this year. Among them were members of Germany’s Green party.

Austria will not allow Turkish politicians to campaign there this year in the run-up to early Turkish elections, announced for June. Last year campaign events in Europe created tension between the Islamic country and EU nations.

Berlin’s mayor says his state, which has the least public holidays, should get one more. Whether it will be June 17, for an East German uprising, May 8, the end of Nazism or January 27, in remembrance of the Holocaust, has not yet been decided.

The vast majority of Germans (86%) do not want the country to launch a military mission against the Syrian government, a survey by Kantar Emnid found.

Employees of the Federal Office for Migration and Refugees are being investigated for corruption. The head of the Bremen branch and three colleagues allegedly profited personally when they approved as many as 1,200 asylum applications.

In 2017, Germany accepted about 60% of all asylum seekers coming to the EU. Of 538,000 asylum seekers in total, Germany took 325,400 of them.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi meets German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Berlin today. Hot topics on the agenda: Increasing protectionism in India and high tariffs on German-made auto parts.

Facebook’s director of global policy will answer questions in the German parliament in the wake of the scandal involving Cambridge Analytica. A regulator is also considering whether to fine Facebook over data privacy infringements.

Fritz Haber

The German Dr. Evil who invented chemical warfare

Syria’s gassing of its own civilians and retaliatory air strikes by the West have again focused attention on chemical weapons. But it’s little known that it was a German scientist, Fritz Haber, who developed them.

New quota

Germany to accept 10,200 refugees in EU plan

The European Union hopes allowing a legal path for 50,000 asylum seekers from North Africa and the Middle East will thwart smugglers.

german us trade balance

News gallery

In case you missed it

Trade numbers, energy consolidation, a WWII bomb and delivery heroes.

Berlin visit

Merkel and Macron seek to ‘rekindle magic’ on EU reform

The German chancellor and the French president downplayed their (very real) disagreements on EU reform, instead choosing to emphasize their common ground on trade and Trump.

protectionism, US German relations

trade war

Protectionism is much more than just tariffs

No, the European Union isn't more protectionist than the United States. But it's not less protectionist, either, an economic researcher says.

Mumbo jumbo?

Cracks widen between Germany and France ahead of Macron’s visit

Berlin keeps blocking Emmanuel Macron’s ambitious euro-zone reform proposals. The latest ruse is a “jumbo council” of European finance and economic ministers, proposed by Angela Merkel.

Ostpolitik

Social Democrats toughen stance on Russia

Unlike his predecessors, Foreign Minister Heiko Maas is taking a more critical line on Russia – and is garnering support from emerging forces in his Social Democratic Party.

News gallery

In case you missed it

Dancing with cherry blossoms, dealing with wolves, catching the travel bug and building bridges between east and west.

pollution goals

With German renewable energy surging, when is the best time to exit coal?

The German coal industry thinks the government should not speed up the end of coal, while environmentalists think the pace is too slow.

Berlin's struggle with urbanization

Gentrification

The Berlin way of urbanization

Germany’s capital, known for its grit, grunge and groove, is experiencing growing pains as it adjusts to its new position as a world-class city. Is Berlin in danger of becoming like San Francisco, London or Paris – another overpriced playground for the nouveau riche?

For your safety

German states give police more surveillance powers

Police in Bavaria, Baden-Württemberg and beyond are gaining new freedoms to fight crime. Some worry authorities are going too far.

Ask a German

Handelsblatt explains

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

Security threat

German customs authority stretched to the limit

Germany doesn’t have enough customs officers partly because they keep getting saddled with new tasks. The authority has a huge backlog of money laundering cases — and a hard Brexit could prove the last straw.

China First

EU ambassadors band together against Silk Road

EU ambassadors to Beijing warn that China’s Silk Road project flouts international transparency norms and is aimed at furthering Chinese interests. The paper reflects Beijing’s strategy to divide the bloc.

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?

Agreement lacking

EU pushes peace plan for Syria

The European Union hopes to revive stalled peace talks in Syria. Germany, which didn't join a US-led missile strike on Syrian government targets over the weekend, is divided on what the outcome should be.

Pushing buttons

Trump set to tussle over EU digital tax plans

The US government may hotly contest EU proposals for a new Europe-wide digital tax. Washington says the proposal is an act of aggression against its tech industry.

Trade aid

Can you privatize development aid? Germany is trying, in Myanmar

Germany's development ministry wants more private businesses to get involved in international projects. A visit with one such project in Myanmar highlights the opportunities — and the pitfalls.

Round Two

Puigdemont affair may go to European Court of Justice

Spanish prosecutors hint they will turn to the EU’s top court should German judges reject the extradition of the deposed Catalan president Carles Puigdemont.

with you in spirit

Merkel says Germany won’t take part in any military action against Syria

The chancellor pledges support for efforts to suppress chemical weapons, but takes a cautious line on the Middle East conflict.

Free Speech

German court overturns Facebook ‘censorship’

A new German law, in effect since January, says social media giants must police hate speech on their own platforms. But a test case now before a Berlin court says they're already getting it wrong.

euro zone reform, monetary union

Germany takes the wheel

Time is running out for euro-zone reform

Germany’s new coalition government needs to agree on a position — and quickly — if it hopes to rescue a reform process that has sharply divided the euro zone.

Zuckerberg testimony

Věra Jourová

Facebook has lost ‘a lot of trust,’ EU official warns

The EU justice commissioner accuses Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg of negligence in dealing with users' data. European and German politicians hope a tough new law will be a turning point.

Pipe Dreams

US sanctions on Russia hit Nord Stream 2 gas line, European companies

America’s blacklisting of Putin's cronies is damaging business relations with Russia and could spell the end of the €9.5 billion gas pipeline to Germany. Even Chancellor Merkel cast doubt on Nord Stream 2.

anti-Semitism debate

Rap battle

Auschwitz lyric triggers anti-Semitism outcry in Germany

The high-profile German rappers Kollegah and Farid Bang have caused a debate about where freedom of artistic expression ends and anti-Semitism begins.

Slow Claps

German right praises Viktor Orbán’s victory in Hungary

Chancellor Angela Merkel’s government appeared divided over Viktor Orbán’s victory in the Hungarian elections and the politician’s anti-migrant rhetoric.

Delete your account

AfD lawmaker under fire for racist tweets after Münster attack

Beatrix von Storch, a leading far-right AfD politician, faces calls to give up her Bundestag seat after she wrongfully blamed Muslims for a deadly van attack in northern Germany and refused to backtrack.

on bail

Out and about with Puigdemont in Berlin

Catalonia’s ousted president Carles Puigdemont is now living in the German capital. His first public appearance after leaving jail was sweaty, happy and unexpectedly peaceful.

gun money

Berlin’s new defense policy will put German weapons-makers first

The new German government is reversing decades of European cooperation on defense spending. Berlin wants to make sure German tanks, planes and combat ships get first go at defense tenders.

Awkward buddy

Conservatives root for Orbán ahead of Hungary vote

As Hungary goes to the polls, allies of Angela Merkel have quieted their criticism of the country’s authoritarian leader, Viktor Orbán. They rave about his hardline stance on refugees and the thriving business for German firms.

No Rebellion

German decision on Catalan leader Puigdemont a sign that fleeing pays

Carles Puigdemont isn’t completely free. But whatever happens after the latest court ruling, it’s clear that he won’t get the same tough penalty as Catalan separatist leaders who stayed in Spain.

cyber attacks

Bundestag needs to do more to protect its network

The security of Germany's parliamentary IT looks like a piece of Swiss cheese. Some lawmakers belatedly want to fix that.

investments foreign trade

Foreign trade

Germany gears up for record foreign investments

German companies want to raise their investments abroad in 2018 to new all-time highs – everywhere except in the US.

Bridge builder

Why Austria seems to be cozying up to Russia

Austria has distanced itself from international efforts to isolate Russia over its alleged poisoning of a spy in Britain. The gambit has historical reasons, but could easily backfire on the country's young chancellor.

Fueling debate

German ministers argue over who’s in charge of coal phase-out

Germany’s coal cleanup is set to be a monumental task. The economy and environment ministers have different ideas of who should be in charge.

IMF dubious

With Mr. Austerity gone, will Germany approve debt relief for Greece?

Germany's new finance minister, Olaf Scholz, is more likely to join a European effort to reduce Greece's debt, but political dangers abound.

Yalla!

Anti-Islam rhetoric alarms German foreign ministry

Germany's foreign ministry fears that conservative ministers' anti-Islamic rhetoric could damage diplomacy. The country's new transport minister has it out for Kuwait Airways.

Answering Trump

US-China trade dispute sparks call for WTO reform

As export-reliant Germany frets over the prospect of an all-out trade war, some in Berlin are starting to lobby for a reform of the WTO to avert a return to the law of the jungle.

inequality, babies, germany

Dueling research

Debating the true cause of inequality

Inequality is either inherited, or it isn't. Or maybe it is, but just a little bit. Whether inheritance or personal responsibility is more important depends on which economist you ask.

Dragon dance

European industry under China’s thumb

Europe’s hopes that trade with China would eventually spur democratic reforms have been dashed. The country is instead becoming increasingly autocratic and economically aggressive. German business leaders and policymakers are alarmed.

Growing hate

Berlin struggles with schoolyard anti-Semitism

Incidents of anti-Semitic bullying, often by Muslim children, have shot up in Berlin schools recently. Parents, schools and local communities are at odds over how to respond.

roller-coaster ride

The trials and tribulations of German lobbyists in Washington

Germans on K Street are struggling with a fickle administration, while gazing up at the Damocles' sword of trade war. But Trump still has one ear open – if they can speak his language.

Catalan can

Why Germany could save Carles Puigdemont

Spain is keen to get its hands on the fugitive Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont, following his arrest in Germany on Sunday. But it hadn't reckoned on one giant, intransigent obstacle — German constitutional law.

Ursula von der Leyen

Von der Leyen 2.0

German military sets new course

The German military introduces new rules and strips the name of a WWI general from a barracks. But Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen is still facing challenges.

Carles Puigdemont

Germany split over fate of arrested Catalan leader

German courts are to decide whether to extradite Carles Puigdemont to Spain after his arrest in northern Germany while politicians disagree about the next moves.

spy spat

Berlin expels Russian diplomats in solidarity with London

Fourteen European governments sent Russian diplomats back to Moscow, with the German government returning four.

Car Imports

Germany wants to make Trump a trade offer he can’t refuse

Germany's new economics minister wants to offer concessions to Washington by cutting European car-import tariffs. But the rest of the EU isn’t so sure about the deal.

Class-action action

EU’s consumer lawsuit reforms a grim prospect for German industry

Scandals at VW and Ryanair are pressuring the EU into allowing collective consumer lawsuits. But German industry groups worry that new proposals by the European Commission will lead to American-style abuses.

gambling problem in germany

Fun and games

Germany’s gambling problem

Lawmakers are starting to realize their bets on stricter gambling rules may not pay off. When slot parlors close, gamblers increasingly turn to gray-market or illegal sites.

EU membership

Calling for a Czexit

The Czech economy is booming. But politicians are calling for a referendum on leaving the EU anyway. Business interests in the country, including German ones, are starting to fret.

more troops

Germany’s ‘forever war’ in Afghanistan

Germany has extended the mandate for its armed forces in Afghanistan another year, and added more troops. They now have the second biggest presence after the US, even while the mission’s goals remain vague.