Start of the compulsory tests: “If you need a test, you should also pay for it”
In the CDU, there is criticism of the free compulsory tests for travelers returning to Germany from Corona risk areas. “The effort for self-chosen risks cannot be constantly passed on to society,” said Saxony-Anhalt’s Prime Minister Reiner Haseloff to “Spiegel”. The regulation is temporarily correct “to ensure immediate use by travelers.” For a permanent solution, however, alternatives must be considered, “for example whether the costs for the tests are allocated to the corresponding flight tickets”.
Anyone who comes to Germany from risk areas has to be tested for the corona virus when entering the country this Saturday. The test is for those affected free of charge up to three days after arrival. Health Minister Jens Spahn (CDU) had recently defended the free rein.
The designated Hamburg CDU regional chief Christoph Ploß was even clearer than Haseloff. “It is not acceptable that the costs for the tests are imposed on all Germans equally,” said Ploß the news magazine. He also welcomed the obligation to test, but demanded: “Anyone who needs a test should also pay for it.”
There was also criticism of the CDU Economic Council’s demand to ban travel to risk areas in principle. “I consider blanket travel bans to be too great an encroachment on citizens’ personal rights. We achieve the same goal through a strict test obligation and consistent quarantine rules, ”said the chairman of the CDU / CSU SME and Economic Union (MIT), Carsten Linnemann, the“ Spiegel ”. For acceptance in the population, it is “still very important that we weigh up well between protection against infection on the one hand and individual freedom on the other,” said the Union parliamentary deputy.
ÜA state-of-the-art crisis meeting is scheduled for early next week about state aid for the battered Lufthansa. Chancellor Angela Merkel (CDU), Finance Minister Olaf Scholz (SPD), Minister of Economy Peter Altmaier (CDU), Minister of Transport Andreas Scheuer (CSU) and Lufthansa CEO Carsten Spohr want to negotiate a rescue package. This was reported by the DPA news agency. The “Bild” newspaper had previously reported that such a top meeting was planned shortly.
The bailout package is worth nine to ten billion euros, government circles said. However, there is still controversy in the federal government in what form the federal government is helping Lufthansa and how much say politicians have in the event of a temporary state participation. In government circles it was said that Lufthansa should not be dragged from all sides, the situation was already dramatic enough.
Lufthansa is severely affected by the corona crisis. Spohr has already prepared the airline’s employees for tough times. Lufthansa is not the only airline that needs state aid.
Lufthansa competitor Air France KLM also receives massive public aid in the form of state guarantees and loans of up to 11 billion euros. France and the Netherlands hold shares in the company.
In the case of Lufthansa, the question is also what form the state could take part in. An entry as a shareholder or as a silent partner is conceivable. As the F.A.Z. reported in its Saturday edition, citing industry insiders, that the state rescue package for Lufthansa is already in place. It could be finished in the coming week.
DThere are currently no big deals. Mergers, acquisitions, IPOs – everything the investment banker likes to boast about has initially put the Corona crisis on hold. And yet Patrick Frowein is anything but bored. “I haven’t worked as much and intensively in a long time as I do now,” says Frowein, Deutsche Bank’s top investment banker in German-speaking countries, in an interview with F.A.Z. “And that also applies to my entire team.” After all, every company is currently concerned with how to get through the crisis safely and with sufficient liquidity, and some of them are getting ready for the time afterwards.
TUI and Adidas show that even large corporations are stumbling, both of which had to access rescue loans from the state development bank KfW. In both cases, Deutsche Bank was not only a financing partner, but also an advisor, as Frowein points out. However, he does not want to comment on why a corporation like Adidas, which has enjoyed success for years, has to resort to government aid so quickly.
Berlin EU Justice Commissioner Didier Reynders rejects vouchers for canceled trips in the corona crisis. He has now given a clear rejection of the corresponding plans of the federal government. “Member States have to ensure that national decisions are in line with EU law – and that gives consumers the choice between vouchers and reimbursement” Reynders told the “Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung”.
The EU Package Travel Directive requires repayments to be made within 14 days. According to the will of the federal government, consumers should receive vouchers instead of an immediate repayment when the trip is canceled. The vouchers are to be limited until the end of 2021. If the customer has not redeemed his voucher by then, the organizer must refund the value.
Justice Minister Christine Lambrecht, Minister of Economic Affairs Peter Altmaier (CDU) and Minister of Finance Olaf Scholz (SPD) had already written to Reynders because a voucher solution would have to be approved by the EU Commission. Several other countries also wanted to contact the Commission.
Altmaier had spoken on Thursday to talks with the EU Commission about a uniform regulation for Europe. The reason: For many travel providers, it would be important to be able to issue vouchers now instead of having to refund the money because of the current crisis and the travel restrictions imposed. In this way, their liquidity can be secured in the crisis, Altmaier told the “Bild” newspaper. For customers who are acutely dependent on repayments, there will be a hardship regulation.
The EU Justice Commissioner rejects compulsory vouchers.
The President of the German Travel Association (DRV), Norbert Fiebig, had recently described the situation of companies in the travel industry as “more than just a threat”. According to the DRV, the travel industry in Germany has to cope with a drop in sales of 4.8 billion euros from mid-March to the end of April alone. 3.5 billion euros are currently flowing out of companies for customer repayments at short notice.
Encouragement instead of commitment
“This leads to an unacceptable economic imbalance,” warned Fiebig. “If Brussels continues to hesitate, the German government will have to take action again and take steps to protect the travel industry very quickly at the national level,” said the DRV President. “If tour operators slip into bankruptcy in large numbers, vacationers will lose a lot of money.”
EU Commissioner Reynders advocated “pragmatic and attractive solutions for companies and consumers”. However, this could only be to encourage consumers to accept vouchers, not to oblige them to do so. Vouchers accepted voluntarily should also be refundable if they were not used and insured against the insolvency of the provider.
The federal government had asked the EU Commission for an exemption from the crisis, since the obligation to reimburse also leads to high cash outflows for airlines because of the almost total collapse in passenger air traffic. To this end, the EU government has presented a detailed proposal with deadlines and hardship regulations. To do this, the EU regulation on passenger rights would have to be changed.
However, the Commission does not want to know anything about a derogation. The FAZ quoted a spokesman for the authority, saying that the legal requirements also apply in unavoidable and extraordinary circumstances, such as those that exist in a pandemic.
More: Read here what consumer advocates think about the voucher solution for canceled trips.
The Chancellor is in top form in times of corona crisis. Angela Merkel explains complicated population doubling rates and reproductive numbers. But she also knows everyday things. “They have to be washed or ironed regularly, put in the oven or in the microwave,” Merkel explains how to care for respiratory masks. “Even if that sounds a bit housewife, so to speak.”
The omniscient state – embodied in the chancellor. The subjects are explained life down to the smallest detail. With this self-image, Merkel takes “measures that have never existed in our country before”. Fundamental rights are restricted, the economy is pushed to the brink and then supported with unprecedented aid.
One of Merkel’s closest confidants, Peter Altmaier, is more than enthusiastic. “An uncle who brings something is better than an aunt who plays the piano”, the Federal Minister of Economics remembers of his childhood.
And what is brought along! If you add up everything the federal government now wants to offer to combat the corona crisis, you get a gigantic sum of at least 1.2 trillion euros. No other country in the world has raised so much money in relation to its economic strength.
Germany has a full 35 percent, far more than the EU average or the USA. Federal finance minister Olaf Scholz did not understate what he promised a few weeks ago: “It is not spilled, but padding.”
The increase in importance and power is unique. Never in the history of the Federal Republic has a government intervened so quickly and deeply in public life and thus in the economy. After the financial crisis, German government debt rose by 315 billion euros in one year. The value of the federal, state and local governments will be far exceeded in this crisis. “I am worried whether we will be able to return to normal economic policy,” says Lars Feld, Germany’s top economy.
The measures to protect health are understandable. But the question increasingly arises: what side effects do the multi-billion dollar rescue programs have? The free market is disturbed, competition is distorted, prices lose their signal strength.
“As much market as possible, as much state as necessary”, the famous words of former Federal Minister of Economics Karl Schiller lose their meaning every day.
There is a risk of higher prices, inefficient companies and loss of wealth. It is significant that more and more companies are turning to the Bundeskartellamt during the corona crisis in order to be exempted from cooperating with competitors. The new spirit of state economy speaks.
Spend as much as you can. The year 2020 will be disastrous. Kristalina Georgiewa (IMF chief)
Certainly, help for companies with no fault of their own must be provided. But with the flood of support funds, the risk of misallocation is high. Capital and labor are tied up in companies with below-average productivity, less investment and innovative strength.
A few weeks ago, after a parliamentary request from the FDP for possible support from zombie companies, the Federal Ministry of Finance had to admit that “necessary market processes of creative destruction are hindered”.
The concern is justified that the state is eating itself too deeply into the economy, throwing privacy and data protection partially overboard and that the influence on the market will not be reversed after the end of the crisis.
A look at history suggests little good. The federal government is still 25 years after the IPO Deutsche Telekom still the largest single shareholder.
Fundamentally, there is a problem that is known in the economy as moral hazard: companies and citizens behave irresponsibly or carelessly due to existing false incentives. The news of fraudsters sneaking up subsidies is increasing.
“The state is a lousy entrepreneur”
The appearances of Altmaier and Scholz are characterized by superlatives. At the federal press conference, they will be presenting the rescue packages worth billions to the public with great regularity. “This is the most comprehensive and effective guarantee that there has ever been in a crisis,” said Altmaier in mid-March. “This is the bazooka, we’ll look for small arms later,” the Federal Minister of Finance said at the appearance.
The small arms that have now been added are quite large-caliber. Scholz announced a debt-financed supplementary budget of 156 billion euros. This includes an emergency fund with a volume of 50 billion euros, which is aimed at the self-employed and small businesses with up to ten employees.
The federal guarantee for the state bank KfW is increased by up to 450 billion euros. And then there is an Economic Stabilization Fund (WSF) with a volume of 600 billion euros. The majority is earmarked for government guarantees to keep companies liquid.
100 billion euros are reserved for possible investments, i.e. partial nationalization of companies. The battered Lufthansa is already holding talks about state participation.
You can still hear Altmaier’s words: “The state is a lousy entrepreneur.” The Federal Minister of Economics at least dedicated the most beautiful hall in the ministry to Ludwig Erhard. But he is currently just as far away from Erhard’s mantra as the Germans are from summer leaves in Mallorca.
Minister of Economics Peter Altmaier (standing) and Minister of Finance Olaf Scholz (front)
The father of the “German economic miracle” throbbed to measure, he remembered sentences, the state should not be a player, but an arbitrator in the economy. Now the state is preparing to take over the entire football club.
No other industrial country is helping its economy with such large sums as the Federal Republic. This shows a new evaluation by the International Monetary Fund (IMF). He does not criticize Germany, on the contrary. “Spend as much as you can,” advises IMF chief Kristalina Georgiewa. The economic situation is too depressing.
The Council of Experts is now assuming that the economy will decline by more than 5.5 percent this year. This is the case that was previously treated as a worst-case scenario. The economic downturn would be worse than in the global financial crisis. 725,000 companies have registered financial difficulties and short-time work.
Including: hospitals. Health Minister Jens Spahn ordered them at the beginning of March to postpone all planned operations. For the hospital operator, this means severe revenue losses. More than a third of the intensive care beds are not occupied. With the Hospital Relief Act, the federal government created a regulation to compensate the clinics for the failures. But that’s far from enough.
This is the bazooka, we’ll look at small arms later. Olaf Scholz (Federal Minister of Finance)
Some private organizations have registered short-time work, including the Schön-Klinik group. The head of the German Hospital Society, Gerald Gaß, sees the time for a “careful, gradual resumption of regular care”.
Spahn also said last week that clinics could “gradually return to normal”. “We do not want to keep 40 percent of the intensive care ventilation beds in Germany permanently”, said the minister.
The pressure on the companies is huge, the need for help is great. This year alone, the federal government is raising 156 billion euros in new debt. The federal states are also preparing an extensive flood of money for pumps.
According to a survey by the Handelsblatt newspaper among the 16 state finance ministries, they are currently planning 65 billion euros in new debt to fight the crisis. In addition to the federal government’s huge € 1.2 trillion rescue package, the federal states are also helping their companies and the self-employed. Bavaria alone has launched a fund with 60 billion euros.
The IMF chief not only welcomes the gigantic aid package in Germany, the monetary fund also calls for thorough control. “Keep the bills,” said Georgiewa. Transparency and accountability should not be put off in the face of the crisis. Whether Germany is world champion in this discipline, doubts are increasing.
Risk zombie company
The financial crisis shaped a saying by the former head of central bank in Europe, Mario Draghi: “What ever it takes”. In this crisis, it becomes a “Whatever, take it!” Aid is mostly spent without checking, the money cannot be distributed quickly enough.
According to an overview by the Ministry of Finance and the Ministry of Economics, over 26 billion euros were applied for by KfW Hilfen. Almost 13,000 of the more than 13,200 applications were approved. In other words, almost anyone who wants help gets it, most likely companies that didn’t have a working business model before the pandemic.
This easily creates zombie companies that are only alive because of generous state aid. After all: With the large sums, the KfW steering committee seems to be examining it more closely. So far, around 8.5 billion euros have been approved. So it takes a little longer for the large-volume applications.
In contrast, the self-employed and small businesses with up to ten employees are suspiciously fast. So far, according to the overview of 1.65 million applications, around 1.1 million have been approved and more than nine billion euros paid out. These are not loans, but aid that does not have to be repaid.
“Speed and thoroughness go hand in hand: it is carefully checked who receives the money,” Finance Minister Scholz promised. But is that true? North Rhine-Westphalia and Berlin were even recently forced to suspend immediate payments because large-scale fraudsters wanted to get to the pots.
There are also problems with honest entrepreneurs. In North Rhine-Westphalia, for example, the self-employed and small businesses are always granted the maximum amounts of EUR 9,000 and EUR 15,000 – regardless of need. This practice is not well understood in the Federal Ministry of Economics. Because a flat-rate payment of maximum amounts was actually not intended.
The aid should amount to up to 9,000 euros for companies with up to five employees and up to 15,000 euros for up to ten employees. The emphasis here is on the “up to”. According to the Ministry of Economic Affairs, the actual amount should be based on sales and operating expenses for the next three months. An entrepreneur with zero euros turnover and 1000 euros costs would be entitled to 3000 euros in emergency aid.
But these details were lost somewhere in the confusion between the federal states and the federal states. The up to 50 billion euros are provided by the federal government. Although federal money is at stake, it is up to the federal states how much they scrutinize companies. In Hamburg, for example, a liquidity check is required. Other countries are significantly less strict so that aid can flow as quickly as possible.
In Berlin, more than a billion euros were paid out to solo and small entrepreneurs within days. And the Berlin Senate also admits behind the scenes that surely there are also deadweight effects. Since no examination was carried out, almost everyone received 14,000 euros in a combination of federal and state funds. These include the self-employed, who normally have annual sales that are significantly lower, they say.
Some recipients are now voluntarily repaying the aid for fear of sanctions. But whether a subsequent thorough examination is possible to convince fraudsters is skeptical in financial management.
Dangerous false incentives
The economic nonsense, which is operated partly in the name of Corona, is great. Governments in the federal and state governments are increasingly creating the illusion that they can regulate everything with state trillions. And more and more, government intervention and expansion is creating false incentives in all areas of the economy, which can be revenged bitterly.
Take the housing market as an example: the Federal Minister of Justice, a woman from the SPD, wanted to protect the tenants. The result is a half-baked law that gets small landlords into trouble. The law was so badly made that solvent companies like Adidas or Deichmann used the gaps and simply suspended the rent payments. Only after a storm of indignation did Adidas row back.
Take the example of KfW loans: After the institutes hesitated to pass on the subsidized loans from the Staatsbank KfW to companies because they still had to bear ten percent of the default risk, the state assumed full liability. With the danger that house banks will now be able to provide loans to companies that have long been bankrupt.
The banks don’t care, they are released from any liability, but of course they still make good money from their business. The fool is the taxpayer who has to answer for the defaults.
Example of short-time work: Short-time work allowance is a tried and tested crisis instrument. The state replaces up to 67 percent of net wages. However, the SPD was not enough. In the coalition committee on Wednesday, she pushed for an increase to 80 percent.
It is the most comprehensive and effective guarantee that there has ever been in a crisis. Peter Altmaier (Federal Minister of Economics)
However, a general increase would have significant deadweight effects: Many companies are already increasing short-time benefits from their own resources. Apart from that, the short-time work allowance is not meant to secure the standard of living, but rather to ensure the survival of companies and thus avoid unemployment.
In other areas, the federal corona strategy is rather arbitrary. The craft complained that the vehicle registration offices were closed. There is also much discussion about opening shops up to the limit of 800 square meters. This border was communicated at least improperly and caused confusion and indignation among the shopkeepers.
Now a Hamburg administrative court has declared the 800 square meter rule to be illegal. The court could not understand why opening larger sales areas alone should attract more people to the city center. Necessary infection protection measures could be followed at least as well in larger stores as in smaller facilities.
Whimsical and impractical was initially the requirement that repair shops were allowed to remain open, but the sales rooms had to be closed. Many craftsmen wondered if they could lead the customers through the sales room into the workshop. Another detail from this series of undesirable side effects of the rescue policy.
The border closures, for example with the Czech Republic, mean that the bricklayers are missing in the construction industry and the harvest workers in agriculture from Romania. The state decides a lot, but the consequences are borne by the entrepreneurs and their employees.
The argument for the state’s rapid generosity in the crisis is: rather spend more now to prevent the economy from crashing and millions of jobs be lost than have to finance mass unemployment for a long time. This approach is absolutely correct. But it also remains true: somehow the state rescue billions have to be financed at least in the medium term if the next generations are not to be overwhelmed.
Currently this is done through the use of reserves and debts. Germany certainly has scope. The Federal Republic had just pushed the debt level to below 60 percent, thereby meeting the Maastricht criteria for the first time in many years in 2019. But that will be the last time for a long time.
As a result of the corona crisis, the federal government expects a general government deficit of 7.25 percent of gross domestic product (GDP) this year. The debt ratio as a share of all debts in GDP is estimated at 75.25 percent, as can be seen from the German Stability Program 2020.
“The projection is currently subject to very high levels of uncertainty,” says the current report. In other words, the debt level could be even higher. This mainly depends on how high the losses are that the federal government will incur from its guarantees and sureties.
Given the huge commitments, some in the grand coalition are trying to put the brakes on. “I don’t like the fact that we almost always get new suggestions every hour, what else can you do,” said Union leader Ralph Brinkhaus. “All of this must also be paid for.”
In a crisis, the state’s money is loose. Some sense their chance to finally implement long-held plans.
BMinister for Economic Affairs Peter Altmaier has called on the federal and state governments to unite in the fight against the corona crisis. “We must not run around like a heap of chickens and alternately outdo each other with tightening and loosening,” warned the CDU politician in the “Bild am Sonntag”. “If we keep our nerve now, we can avoid a second lockdown. That is why joint action by the federal and state governments is so important. “
The federal government and the states had agreed last Wednesday on the first relaxation of the conditions to contain the pandemic. A nationwide uniform strategy in the fight against the virus is not foreseeable. From this Monday, small and medium-sized businesses can reopen in many places. In Saxony, a mask requirement applies to buses, trains and shops from Monday. At the same time, the state government is once again allowing public services that are prohibited elsewhere.
Masks are mandatory in local transport in Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania from April 27th. The Federal Government, on the other hand, continues to reject an obligation; it limits itself to recommending protective masks when shopping and in local public transport. The federal states, in turn, are also taking different paths when it comes to resuming school lessons and expanding emergency daycare.
“Smaller businesses have less reserves”
Altmaier expects billions of respirators to be needed in Germany alone during the Corona crisis. “If we want to enable everyone in Germany to work, shop and drive a bus with a face mask, we need between eight and twelve billion masks a year,” said the economics minister to “Bild am Sonntag”. “If we produce a significant part of it in Germany, we will have achieved a lot.”
A corresponding production staff is located in his ministry, but the billion dollar production is still a long way off. “Our goal is to be able to produce millions of surgical masks and mouthguards in Germany in the second half of summer,” said Altmaier. It is not possible to tell companies what or how much to produce. “But we will get industrial production going with investment grants and purchase guarantees.”
At the same time, the minister defended the decision to initially only reopen shops with a maximum retail area of 800 square meters. Altmaier says that he can understand the disappointment of the large department stores. “But smaller stores have fewer reserves and therefore it is much more difficult to keep your head above water.”
Laschet examines exceptions for services
The federal states also go their own way when it comes to shop openings. In Hesse, Rhineland-Palatinate and Saarland, for example, larger stores can also open if they limit the sales area to 800 square meters. In Brandenburg and Lower Saxony, shops with up to 800 square meters are also allowed to be located in shopping centers.
The opening date also does not apply to all of Germany. The federal states decide how to implement the joint decision with the federal government. In Berlin and Brandenburg, for example, the shops will only reopen on Wednesday, and in Thuringia on April 27. There are also peculiarities in Bavaria: there, garden centers, DIY superstores and garden centers are allowed to reopen on Monday, the smaller shops as well as all car, bicycle and book dealers follow a week later. Other countries such as North Rhine-Westphalia are clearly more researched: the state government wants to have furniture stores and baby specialty stores opened as a first step. The furniture giant Ikea initially leaves its doors closed.
NRW Prime Minister Armin Laschet (CDU) also signaled willingness to open churches and other religious sites. “I will, for example, re-examine the question of services in the next few days,” said Laschet on Deutschlandfunk. “When you open shops, you can also pray in churches.”
EIt could also have been a “dawn of the gods”. The downfall of a politician. Beginning of the end. And we keep hearing an exciting Ostinato motif, which is no coincidence that it resembles the stormy beginning of the “Valkyrie”.
Incidentally, the only authentic filming location in these two TV hours is the Bayreuth Festival Hall with its attached restaurant. And on the stage, we are in the summer of 2015, correctly given Richard Wagner’s “Tristan and Isolde” in the bitter, emotionally staged production of great granddaughter Katharina. But Angela Merkel, who loves opera and Wagner’s musical drama in particular, and her Christian partner Horst Seehofer, who come together in a verbally foaming manner, are certainly not lovers.
“The Driven” – template for the ARD film
However, the Chancellor has long survived the Bavarian Prime Minister. Five years later she is still sitting on the armchair, but in Munich the lion Markus Söder roars, who is warming up here. And in real Berlin, of course, there is currently government in crisis mode again. With a white and blue Prime Minister Söder, who has gone through an astonishing evolution since then.
Corona is governed at a distance and much more moderately than the hectic, breathless, but skillfully distributed political mosaic over the split screen as a chronicle of the current events of the escalation of the refugee crisis in 2015, which Robin Alexander researched and published in 2017 in the bestseller “Die Driven “prepared. In 2019, the book by the deputy editor-in-chief of WELT had become a screenplay by Florian Oeller, and on April 15 this “Report from the Inside of Power” will be broadcast on ARD.
It has become an impressively complex documentary drama that swings from Berlin to Brussels, Munich, the Altmühl valley, the competitive Heidenau reception location to Vienna and Budapest, which will surely have happened in many moments. With many of the best German drama, from Rüdiger Vogler to Sepp Bierbichler to Wolfgang Pregler, with Messrs. Bierbichler as Horst Seehofer and Vogler as Schwäbelenden Wolfgang Schäuble being far too strong in personality to play bad political actors as good actors. The Bierbichler-Horst is much more grandiose than the original.
Angela Merkel, who has already been played by Iris Berben and Katharina Thalbach, is far better balanced with Imogen Kogge. The former Schaubühnen actress and “police call” commissioner slips into a role, but is so translucent, reserved and yet strong that you can easily short-circuit her with the real Angela Merkel, but never forget the actor. A tightrope walk that gets better and better the longer the film jumps and meanders in these hastily ticked off months. To do this, she does not have to use the well-known Merkel trademarks from her hairstyle, jacket, chain, gear. Of course, they unobtrusively set the frame.
Sometimes she doesn’t seem to do anything, and then there is a lot of Angela, not Imogen Merkel: “The scene where she hugs the refugee child in Rostock during this encounter was difficult,” says Imogen Kogge. “This is documented in detail in picture and sound, but one should not reproduce the verifiable, go into the trap of the copy.” At that time Angela Merkel was accused of lacking empathy, two months later she opened the German borders to all those who worked on the Budapest The station was very deliberately kept in check by the Hungarian security forces in inhumane conditions until they moved on the highway.
Private matters will be invented
On the other hand, the film can and must find something private, invent the ambience. Where the book remains factual, facts are prepared, the film dramaturgy, which is often emotive and emotionally demanding, also requires a Thomas de Maizière feverishly shaken in bed, Peter Altmaier (Tristan Seith) as a stoic long-time mamper, Seehofer and Merkel at home drinking beer in front of the TV screen.
In the end, Uwe Preuss, the otherwise silent chancellor’s husband, Joachim Sauer, who is now able to express the unease at Merkel’s present postulate “We can do it” in the people’s home on the couch, was also a success.
What makes the TV chancellor tearful at least once. Did she really become that? We do not know, that’s what makes the strange tension in this condensed TV editing. But in any case, however stricken: Angela Merkel still rules and reacts. Probably because she always sits everything out, remains silent and then makes an analytical, scientific and sober decision. This also shows – once again – this film.
At first Imogen Kogge had doubts: “I thought I could only fail, not overdraw and at the same time not disappear behind Angela Merkel. But then I thought I wasn’t up to her, but at least I try. The self-confidence that it could be something, this appointment is needed, even if there may be a nervous breakdown afterwards. ”It doesn’t need it, the cog is sovereign.
“The Driven” is not “House of Cards”, but this summer 2015 the usual coalition negotiations will be tougher and more Machiavellian, although not even Merkel Nemesis, the Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán (Radu Banzaru), will really come up in Shakespeare-like villain format .
Of course, it is fueled on one side by Horst Seehofer, who is in turn driven by Söder’s hoofed hooves, and on the other by government partner SPD with the possible chancellor candidate and Minister of Economics Sigmar Gabriel (Timo Dierkes) and Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier (Walter Sittler ), who of course all cook their own party-political soup; including the alleged patriots from the Office for the Protection of the Constitution. At the beginning of the film, the chancellor only averted Greece’s financial failure and the EU crisis.
Is “The Driven” Still Relevant? Naturally. We are away from 2015, but it is still close. It shows us better where we are now that the refugee movement and the war in Syria are still not over, even if, for example, the strengthening of the AfD as a result of this cannot yet play a role.
This is also possible because the game scenes are very successfully embedded in the authentic images of the Syrian war, the riots in Heidenau, the masses in Budapest and at Munich Central Station, and the endless Armada for conferences of politicians’ limousines. As scriptwriter Florian Oeller repeatedly affirms on behalf of director Stephan Wagner: “We did not want to celebrate and condemn, but to make neutrality transparent as the highest requirement in the presentation of political decisions, because these 63 days in summer 2015 in particular are the origin of the present . “
And at the same time Oeller says: “We never wanted to imitate the historical models, that drifts into the grotesque, we seek the truthfulness of the personality. In contrast to the template, we have made the facts of the journalistic report accessible and dramatized, in close exchange with Robin Alexander, who has personally experienced all those involved. His report starts earlier and ends later, we have brought it to a head again: what is the essence of the story, the Merkel path from the euro crisis as a successful chancellor to the opening of the border. We no longer needed the November party conference of the CSU as a resonance room. ”
“I’m now happy again about Merkel as Chancellor”
What he needed was the extended time frame of two non-stop hours, because “the pace of the decision-making steps cannot be divided”. The script, which summarized and added so much, was well prepared, however, hardly any changes need to be made in the editing room to show what political responsibility means, for better or for worse.
And then Florian Oeller says very quietly in view of the current situation: “Right now I’m happy again about Angela Merkel as Chancellor, who wanted to sell many in this country at the end of 2015.”
SThe Federal Minister of Economics is now expanding his investment control powers. In order to ward off the alleged impending sell-out of German companies weakened by the Corona standstill, Peter Altmaier secures even more rights. In the future, the CDU politician will be able to extensively examine a share purchase by an investor outside the European Union if the takeover could “probably” affect public order and security – a criterion with a lot of room for interpretation.
Now it will be true that some companies based here will become a cheaper target for takeovers by stopping the economy to avert health risks. However, bargains for German investors are likely to arise elsewhere. If one accepts the argument of temporary special vulnerability, also because the state provides financial help to get companies through the crisis: Why doesn’t Altmaier limit the new powers?
No guarantee of openness
He is interested in more, and that fits into the picture. Altmaier sees his role as that of an active industrial politician, which is inevitably associated with greater protectionism. Even before Corona, he enthusiastically announced tax money in order to lure companies into fields that seemed promising to him. It remains to be seen whether its subsidized battery alliances will mature into successful companies or remain subsidized companies.
Altmaier and France have long wanted to loosen EU competition controls in order to promote the emergence of “European champions”. The Corona crisis, like his EU colleagues, gives him hundreds of billions to live out industrial-political dreams in the fray. The economic stabilization fund enables state entry into companies, the foreign trade amendment makes it easier to lock out undesirable (Chinese) investors.
Altmaier wants to use the new powers “with a sense of proportion”. One should not rely on this alone, this minister is not a strong guarantee of Germany’s economic openness. It would be better to clarify the foreign trade amendment and to limit it in terms of time.
“Corona pandemic triggers serious recession in Germany”
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Even if Germany has good prerequisites to cope with the economic slump, economists expect a dramatic downturn with a historic low in the current quarter. In 2020, the gross domestic product will shrink by 4.2 percent.
DAccording to leading research institutes, the German economy is facing a dramatic downturn due to the virus crisis. “The corona pandemic triggers a serious recession in Germany,” said the economists on Wednesday in their spring report for the German government, confirming a Reuters report from Tuesday.
2020 will be the gross domestic product (GDP) shrink by 4.2 percent and is expected to increase by 5.8 percent next year. However, there is a risk that it could get worse.
“The pandemic could weaken much more slowly than expected, and economic activity could also start up again more poorly and trigger another wave of infection.”
Expert opinion: “Economy in shock – fiscal policy holds against”
The experts also warned that further measures to fight infection could come into force that could shut down production for a longer period or on a larger scale. “Fault in the financial system as a result of increasing corporate insolvencies would become more likely, which could not be prevented by state protective shields,” says the report entitled “Economy in shock – fiscal policy holds against”.
As early as the first quarter of 2020, GDP should have shrunk by 1.9 percent, the researchers explained. “In the second quarter, it then plunges as a result of the shutdown by 9.8 percent.” This is the strongest decline ever recorded since the beginning of the quarterly accounts in 1970 and more than twice as large as that during the global financial crisis in the first quarter of 2009. “The recession leaves clear traces on the labor market and in the state budget, ”said Ifo economic chief Timo Wollmershäuser.
“At the top it will be unemployment rate this year to 5.9 percent and the number of short-time workers to 2.4 million. ”On average, unemployment rose by almost a quarter of a million to 2.5 million last year.
“Germany has good prerequisites to cope with the economic slump and to return to the economic level in the medium term that would have resulted without the crisis,” said Wollmershäuser. The favorable financial situation enables the state to take extensive measures to mitigate the short-term negative consequences for companies and households.
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In 2020, these led to a record deficit in the state as a whole (federal, state, local, social security) of 159 billion euros. The government’s gross debt will rise to 70 percent in relation to nominal gross domestic product.
The joint diagnosis serves the Federal Government as the basis for its own projections, which in turn form the basis for the tax estimate. The expert opinion is prepared by the DIW in Berlin, the Ifo Institute in Munich, the Kieler IfW, the IWH in Halle and the RWI in Essen.
Special report on the economic methods
Last week, the so-called economic practices had already submitted a special report on the effects of the coronavirus epidemic. Depending on the duration and extent of the restrictions due to the pandemic, the Council of Experts anticipates a slump of 2.8 percent to 5.4 percent of gross domestic product to assess the overall economic development.
Federal Minister of Economics Peter Altmaier (CDU) has already warned that GDP may shrink by more than eight percent in individual months in the first half of the year. He expects the peak of the negative development in May.
Brussels, Berlin, Dusseldorf The question has arisen again and again in recent weeks – and again and again Minister for Economic Affairs Peter Altmaier avoided it.
Pressed by MPs from the Economic Committee, Altmaier referred to the responsibility of the Federal Ministry of Health. The CDU politician, of all people, who has staged himself as an industrial strategist since taking office, has long refused to pursue a corona-specific industrial policy.
Economic State Secretary Thomas Bareiß (CDU) pleaded a week ago in the Handelsblatt for a decentralized, market-driven approach. He is building on “subsidiarity and our federal structure,” said the Altmaier confidant. Locally, supply and demand would come together better “than if it were controlled centrally from Berlin”.
Now the ministry is changing course: This Wednesday, it is supposed to present a draft resolution drafted together with the ministry of health to the federal cabinet. The most important element is the creation of a staff unit to coordinate the production of pandemic supplies.
Coalition circles say that Chancellor Angela Merkel (CDU) is said to have put pressure on the Ministry of Economic Affairs. In her own words, Merkel is striving for a “pillar of in-house production” in Germany and Europe. It is high time for this, the coalition partner believes.
“I see a high level of willingness in many companies to switch,” said Ute Vogt, spokeswoman for the SPD parliamentary group, told the Handelsblatt. “But it needs a quick and well-functioning mediation – I see the duty of the Minister of Economy.”
BDI demands quick political control
In fact, the economy shows initiative. A number of companies have already started pandemic production. Volkswagen produces components for medical devices with 3D printers. Instead of herbal liqueur, Mast-Jägermeister burns alcohol for disinfection. Textile companies like Trigema manufacture protective masks.
However, that alone is not enough to meet the enormous need for corona protective goods. The Federal Association of German Industry (BDI) therefore calls on the federal government to start political governance quickly.
“The important help from industry must not be wasted in unstructured actionism,” said Iris Plöger, member of the BDI executive board, Handelsblatt. The industry can only help in the procurement of corona protective goods and medication if the need, precise product requirements and legal certainty for a quick market approval are clear. “This has to be coordinated centrally at the federal level,” said Plöger.
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In a statement on the corona crisis, which is available in the Handelsblatt, the BDI calls for government investments in the “construction of a test infrastructure” and payments to companies so that the “investment costs can be absorbed for the common good”.
In order to “avoid capacity bottlenecks caused by pandemics”, state action is required, since no company can afford to “provide the necessary structure in the event of one-time overproduction in free competition”.
Government wants to build “pillar of in-house production”
The BDI paper reads like a blueprint for the new staff unit that is to be located in the Federal Ministry of Economics. Altmaier will not get in the way of the Ministry of Health: While Spahn is responsible for shopping on the existing market for protective goods at home and abroad, the Ministry of Economic Affairs is to initiate the creation of additional production capacities, i.e. to increase the offer.
The Federal Government’s aim is “to set up a pillar of in-house production in Germany and Europe in the medium and long term in addition to the short-term supply of protective equipment, in order to reduce dependencies in this sensitive area,” explains the Ministry of Economic Affairs.
If the first steps towards normalizing everyday life are taken in the coming weeks, the demand for protective goods will continue to increase. Bavarian Prime Minister Markus Söder (CSU) already said that he expected a general mask requirement.
Politicians must also take into account the needs of companies “in order to ensure orderly operation for the phase of restarting the economy”, demands the BDI. Many companies worked “in compliance with the highest hygiene standards and are urgently dependent on personal protective equipment”.
The BDI fears bottlenecks not only with breathing masks and protective coats, but also with raw materials and reagents that are necessary for the manufacture of medical goods and medicines. This applies above all to the virus tests, which are to be greatly expanded according to the plans of the federal government.
“While most of the devices and test procedures are available, the necessary reagents and auxiliary materials that are necessary for testing are a problem,” warns the BDI.
In order to remedy the “massive lack of respiratory masks”, the BDI suggests “simplifying the licensing of protective goods”. The association also campaigns for “the lifting of EU export restrictions on corona goods”. These endangered the delivery of medicines and medical devices.
I can only say that funding can hardly be used more sensibly. Thomas Jarzombek, Federal Ministry of Economics
The Ministry of Economic Affairs does not rule out either, but initially wants to use other industrial policy instruments. For example, funding for the development of a corona vaccine is to be increased.
As the Handelsblatt found out, the Ministry of Economic Affairs is providing another 1.3 million euros for a Tübingen start-up team that is pursuing a particularly promising approach. “The search for a vaccine against the novel corona viruses is a race against time,” said Altmaier’s start-up representative Thomas Jarzombek. “I can only say that funding can hardly be used more sensibly.”
The opposition criticizes that the change of heart in industrial policy comes too late: “Many weeks after the crisis, the federal government founds a planning staff. Many could have done that earlier, ”said Katharina Dröge, spokeswoman for the Greens’ political group. “So valuable time has been lost.”
EU Commission has placed bulk orders
The CDU’s economic council looks ahead: “Germany needs an official list of strategic areas, systemically important companies and products at European and federal level in order to guarantee supply chain security for these important areas for future crises and pandemics,” says a position paper by the Economic council available to the Handelsblatt.
One thing is clear: the other European countries are struggling with similar problems to Germany. There is “a global scramble” for scarce protective equipment and other medical goods, said EU Commissioner for Crisis Management Janez Lenarcic on Tuesday. “The virus has spread faster and further than anyone expected.” The shortage in Europe had become apparent when Italy unsuccessfully asked the other EU countries for deliveries in early March.
The Brussels authority is trying to coordinate national activities. So that the EU countries do not outbid each other on the market, the Commission has placed bulk orders with the manufacturers.
The first contracts for the supply of goggles and masks have been signed, according to Lenarcic. At the same time, the Commission is using computer models to predict the peak of the epidemic in each country in order to deliver the goods there in good time.
More: Manufacture of medical material: companies mobilize themselves. Read more here.