Clarion call

Social Democrats Propose Infrastructure Upgrade

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Wired up for action. Investment in Germany's Internet would bring it up to par with its European neighbors.
  • Why it matters

    Why it matters

    Germany’s Social Democrats are hoping a new electoral platform, including an ambitious spending proposal for Germany’s crumbling infrastructure, will revive their electoral fortunes.

  • Facts

    Facts

    • Sigmar Gabriel, the SPD chairman and economy minister, has proposed spending €60 billion per year to modernize the country’s infrastructure by 2025, partly using public-private partnerships to reach the goal.
    • The goal of a proposed €100 billion upgrade in digital infrastructure is to create a fiber-optic gigabite network.
    • Another objective of the modernization plan is to increase R&D spending from about 2.8 percent of GDP today to 4 percent by 2025.
  • Audio

    Audio

  • Pdf

Germany’s economy is growing and the country has more jobs than ever before. But it’s time to spend before the good times end, according to Germany’s vice chancellor and economics minister, Sigmar Gabriel.

Mr. Gabriel, who leads the Social Democratic Party, the junior partner in Angela Merkel’s governing coalition, has proposed a major new public-private investment plan to address the country’s crumbling infrastructure. He argued that cheap oil, the weak euro and low interest rates are helping Germany’s economy and its budget – but these benefits won’t last for ever.

“If we want to continue living well in the years ahead, we need to make reforms today and address our huge modernization backlog,” Mr. Gabriel said.

He set out a reform program worth an annual €60 billion, or $65 billion, up to 2025, to upgrade the country’s broadband Internet and improve innovation, electric mobility and education.

It marks the latest effort by Mr. Gabriel and the Social Democrats to increase their party’s fortunes ahead of key state elections and another federal election scheduled for 2017 – and also answers some international criticism that Germany has been too frugal over the past few years.

Angela Merkel’s Christian Democrats, who have made balancing the budget a priority in recent years, are unlikely to agree to the new spending proposal.

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