Tag Archives: Germany

German central bank cuts 2013 growth forecast

Germany‘s central bank has sharply cut its 2013 growth forecast to 0.4 percent from 1.6 percent amid continuing concerns about the European economy. The Bundesbank on Friday also lowered its forecast for 2012 growth to 0.7 percent from the 1 percent it predicted in June. It’s expecting a rebound to 1.9 percent growth in 2014. The government is predicting 0.8 percent growth this year and 1 percent growth in 2012. The eurozone is in recession and the news comes a day after the European Central Bank said it expects that to continue next year, cutting its 2013 forecast for the 17-nation bloc from 0.5 percent growth to a 0.3 percent decline. Germany‘s export-driven economy has been slowing as amid falling orders from the eurozone though it’s making up ground elsewhere.
Source: Fox World News

Top EU officials set out program for more unity

Four top European Union officials on Thursday set out a blueprint for a closer financial union in a move that will clash with some member states’ cherished national interests. EU Council President Herman Van Rompuy unveiled a report that called for the EU‘s 27 member countries to pool their financial and monetary policies even more than they had done so far to combat the region’s financial crisis. He made the proposal alongside the leaders of the EU Commission, the European Central Bank and the Eurogroup, the gathering of the finance ministers from the 17 EU countries that use the euro. The report said there was “a need to go further and to put in place a stronger framework for coordination, convergence and enforcement” of policies. The report will be used as a starting point for debate at next week’s summit of EU government leaders as they seek a way out of the financial crisis by further increasing control over banks and the national budgets of member states. But the ambitious scope of the integration it proposed is likely to rankle defenders of EU nations’ sovereign powers who fear a transfer of more authority to Brussels. The report charts the development that Europe‘s financial and economic backstops should take over the coming years. It said Europe should have after 2014 a centralized authority that can absorb economic shocks in countries. The report, which was vague on details, suggested the system would evolve out of Europe‘s current financial backstops, which include a bailout fund, a nascent banking supervisor and budget checks. For three years now, the EU has been slumping from one crisis meeting to the next to deal with the problems of debt-ridden countries like Greece. That’s because the original setup for the euro currency zone left far too much independence to nations that could piggyback on the initial success of the joint currency and its richer member nations. Several measures to keep wayward national budgets from undermining confidence in the common currency have already been taken. But the initial flaw of the eurozone — having no way to enforce sound financial and economic decision-making among national authorities — has yet to be fully addressed, the 15-page report said. After 2014, the 17 nations that use the euro should “also build on an increasing degree of common decision-making on national budgets and an enhanced coordination of economic policies, in particular in the field of taxation and employment,” the report said. While the report seeks to step away from the stop-gap measures that have marked the EU reaction to the crisis, by proposing much closer integration — even beyond the 17 eurozone nations — it pose prickly political questions. The report, for example, suggests chipping away at the powers of national parliaments, especially when discussing the common interests of the eurozone. It says “national parliaments are not in the best position to take (the interest of the eurozone) into account fully,” and calls for more involvement of the 27-nation European parliament. That is unlikely to go down well in Germany, the biggest contributor to EU financial bailouts, which has throughout the crisis insisted on the need for parliamentary approval of important decisions. Britain, meanwhile, has been traditionally opposed to yielding more authority to EU headquarters, and has been joined recently in that call by some of the richer eurozone nations, like the Netherlands and Finland. The report sets tight deadlines for fundamental progress, something which the EU has found tough to keep to. Only last Tuesday, the 27 finance ministers remained split on the establishment of a new European single supervisor to keep wayward banks in check, and were forced to squeeze in another extraordinary meeting next week on the eve of the Dec. 13-14 summit of EU leaders.
Source: Fox World News

Israel bars academic from Berlin diplomatic event

Israel has barred an Israeli academic from a diplomatic event in Germany during Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu‘s current visit to Berlin. An official traveling with Netanyahu confirmed that professor and human rights expert Rivka Feldhay was excluded from a meeting of Israeli and German scientists. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to talk to the media. Feldhay told The Associated Press in an email that she had traveled to Berlin at the invitation of the Israeli embassy in Germany. She says that after she arrived, the embassy notified her that the Israeli government would not let her participate in the meeting Thursday “since I am critical of the government.” Critics say Feldhay’s exclusion is another example of the Netanyahu government‘s intolerance for dissent.
Source: Fox World News

Demjanjuk’s family asks for probe to be reopened

The family of John Demjanjuk has appealed a prosecutor’s decision to shelve an investigation into his death while awaiting an appeal on a Nazi war crimes conviction. Bavarian prosecutors last week closed the investigation into whether pain medication given to Demjanjuk exacerbated his kidney problems, saying no evidence was found of medical errors. But in the appeal filed Tuesday, Demjanjuk’s attorney says the decision contradicts “all medical knowledge” about the drug Novalgin, which is commonly used in Germany but has been banned in the U.S. and elsewhere over safety concerns. Demjanjuk’s family is asking that charges be brought against five doctors and a nurse. Demjanjuk was convicted in 2011 of serving as a death camp guard, which he always denied. He died in March at 91 while awaiting an appeal.
Source: Fox World News

Class of 2012: Young Europeans trapped by language

Maria Menendez, a 25-year-old caught in Spain‘s job-destroying economic crisis, would love to work in Germany as a veterinarian. Germany, facing an acute shortage of skilled workers, would love to have her. A perfect match, it seems, but something’s holding her back: She doesn’t speak German. The European Union was built on a grand vision of free labor markets in which talent could be matched with demand in a seamless and efficient manner, much in the way workers in the U.S. hop across states in search of opportunity. But today only 3 percent of working age EU citizens live in a different EU country, research shows. As young people in crisis-hit southern Europe face unemployment rates hovering at 50 percent, many find themselves caught in a language trap, unable to communicate in the powerhouse economy that needs their skills the most: Germany. “I think going abroad is my best option,” said Menendez, “but for people like me who have never studied German, it would be like starting from zero.” ___ Editors: This is the latest installment in Class of 2012, an exploration of Europe‘s financial crisis through the eyes of young people emerging from the cocoon of student life into the worst downturn the continent has seen since the end of World War II. Follow the class on its new Google plus page: http://apne.ws/ClassOf2012 ___ In northern Europe, companies are desperately seeking to plug labor gaps caused by low birth rates and the growing need for specialized skills amid still robust economies. Germany alone requires tens of thousands of engineers, IT-specialists, nurses and doctors to keep its economy thriving in the years to come. But a recent study pinpointed language as the single biggest barrier to cross-border mobility in Europe. “What seems to prevent further labor market integration in Europe is the fact that we speak different languages,” said Nicola Fuchs-Schuendeln, a Frankfurt University economics professor who co-authored the study. Few German employers are prepared to compromise when it comes to language skills, according to Raimund Becker, who heads the German Federal Employment Agency‘s division for foreign and specialist recruitment. “If you want to work as an engineer you’ll need a certain specialist vocabulary,” he said. “Even colloquial German isn’t enough.” Earlier this year the agency announced it would invest up to €40 million ($51 million) in special programs to help jobless Europeans aged 18 and 35 learn German so they can pursue jobs or training in Germany. The measure targets people like Menendez, who graduated from veterinary school and has two master’s degrees but hasn’t been able to find work in Spain. The market for veterinarians in her home country has taken a phenomenal beating over the past four years. Veterinary clinics are cutting back severely because crisis-hit Spaniards are spending less on pets, and a recent hike in the sales tax to 21 percent is hurting these businesses even more. “They’re just not hiring,” Menendez said. She would also be qualified to work as a veterinarian for an agricultural company, and she has sent about 1,000 resumes to all corners of Spain over the last year. But only two companies called her back for a preliminary interview. Neither called to invite her for a formal one. Menendez said she found plenty of jobs online in Germany, where EU rules mean her Spanish qualification would be accepted. But the ads are either in German or, if in English, say that candidates must have good German. Like most Spaniards, she studied English at school and is now focusing on improving her English. Often touted as the continent’s ‘lingua franca,’ English is widely used in multi-national companies but rarely in the public sector or the small-to-medium sized enterprises that employ the bulk of the European labor force. Meanwhile, London isn’t the magnet for young English-speaking Europeans that it used to be. Migrants who flocked there a decade ago are now returning home or looking elsewhere for work as Britain, too, struggles with a rising jobless rate. Ricardo de Campano learned the hard way how critical it is to have a wide set of language skills when he left London for Berlin two years ago. The 34-year-old said he quickly found work as a special needs teacher in London with the English he’d learned at school, but the same wasn’t true when he came to Germany. “If you want to have a decent job and be part of the system, pay your taxes and have your health insurance, you need to have German,” said De Campano, who is now studying the language of Goethe at an adult education college where Spaniards have come to make up the biggest single group of students in recent years. But despite the boom in German language teaching seen also in Spain itself, the number of Spaniards coming to Germany remains modest. According to figures provided by the Federal Employment Agency, less than 5,000 Spaniards have taken up jobs in Germany over the past year — a tiny fraction of the 4.7 million jobless in Spain. Class of 2012 participant Rafael Gonzalez del Castillo speaks German and could work in Germany. He picked up the language on a student exchange program in the southern town of Darmstadt and lived with German flat-mates in Madrid. But, in perhaps an alarming sign for Europe, he sees more opportunity and cultural affinity in booming Latin America — and has started to learn Portuguese so he can see work in Brazil. It’s part of a rising trend in Spaniards departing for former European colonies in Latin America, meaning that Europe is losing much of its top-level talent to emerging economies. “I see Brazil as a country that’s going to grow so much in these years,” said Gonzalez del Castillo, “And I feel close to them because we are Latin people, and our language is similar.” His fellow architect, 25-year-old David Garcia, is doing his masters in architecture in Spain after spending a year at the university in Regensburg, Germany. While there, Garcia took German lessons outside of his normal studies for the entire period. Now, Garcia is working for a German company remotely while in Spain, and plans to return there when he finishes — but none of his classmates have targeted Germany for work even though there are plenty of building opportunities there. “All the people I am studying with want to go abroad, but they prefer to go to England or South America because it will take them a lot of time for them to learn German,” Garcia said. Meanwhile, there are indications that workers from outside the EU are more willing to learn a new language than those from members of the bloc itself. The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development said in its 2012 report that while only 3 percent of working-age EU citizens live in a fellow EU country, migrants from outside the EU make up 5 percent of the EU working-age population. And when Germany‘s economy minister recently launched a program to recruit skilled foreign workers, he turned not to southern Europe‘s vast pool of jobless workers but to India, Indonesia and Vietnam. Ten years ago European leaders at a meeting in the Spanish city of Barcelona called for “action to improve the mastery of basic skills, in particular by teaching at least two foreign languages from a very early age.” Six years later, the EU‘s language czar, Leonard Orban, declared that speaking two foreign languages in addition to their mother tongue should be the goal for all citizens of the 27-nation bloc. The result has been a deluge of programs to subsidize language learning in Europe. Yet a poll of more than 25,000 Europeans earlier this year still found only 54 percent said they were able to hold a conversation in more than one language. And with austerity eating into European government budgets, the bloc’s flagship student exchange program Erasmus, which supports 250,000 students and teachers with grants each year, faces a funding crisis. “We’ve had bills for over €100 million already which we can’t honor because there’s no money in the pot,” said Dennis Abbott, a spokesman for the European Commission’s education and multi-lingualism directorate. The shortfall represents less than 0.1 percent of the EU‘s annual budget, but the failure to break down language barriers could end up being far costlier. Edoardo Campanella, a former economic adviser to the Italian government, says labor mobility is fundamental to the EU‘s common market, and in particular the eurozone, where countries with widely differing economic fortunes share a single currency. “Labor mobility is an important adjustment mechanism,” said Campanella, currently a Fulbright Scholar at the Harvard Kennedy School. “The language hurdle impairs this safe-valve.” At Berlin’s Cafe Colectivo, 30-year-old project manager Maria Sarricolea from Spain laughed as she recalled friends asking about the job prospects in Germany. “A lot of Spanish people think they can come here and get a great job with a bit of English,” she said. ____ Clendenning contributed from Madrid. Barry Hatton in Lisbon contributed to this report. Frank Jordans can be reached at http://www.twitter.com/wirereporter ___ Follow The Class of 2012 on its new Google plus page: http://apne.ws/ClassOf2012 ___ Follow The Class of 2012 on the AP Big Story page: http://bigstory.ap.org/topic/class-2012 ___ Follow The Class of 2012 on Twitter: https://twitter.com/AP/class-of-2012
Source: Fox World News

Survey: Greece seen as most corrupt in EU

An international watchdog group says a new survey shows the countries worst hit by the European financial crisis are also seen as among the most corrupt in the European Union. Transparency International‘s annual Corruption Perceptions Index released Wednesday shows Spain, Portugal, Italy and Greece with the lowest scores in western Europe. Where 0 is “highly corrupt” and 100 is “very clean,” Greece scored a 36, Italy 42, Portugal 63 and Spain, 65. By comparison, Denmark and Finland tied with New Zealand at the top of the list with scores of 90, while Germany scored 79, the U.K. 74 and the U.S. 73. Overall, the countries seen as most corrupt were Somalia, North Korea and Afghanistan — all of which scored eight. Two-thirds of the 176 countries ranked scored below 50.
Source: Fox World News

Germany close to ban on far-right party

German security officials are moving toward a new attempt to ban the country’s only significant far-right party, after meticulously collecting new evidence in an effort to avoid the debacle when they tried to ban it in 2003. The interior ministers of Germany‘s 16 states are expected to recommend Wednesday evening pursuing a new ban of the National Democratic Party on allegations it promotes a racist, xenophobic, and anti-Semitic agenda in violation of the country’s constitution. In 2003 the country’s Federal Constitutional Court rejected the attempt after it turned out paid government informants within the party were partially responsible for the evidence being used. This time officials say almost all of the information is public record, like details from the NPD‘s own literature, Internet postings, and documented criminal activities.
Source: Fox World News

Judge Rejects Xbox 360 Ban in U.S., Germany

U.S. Judge James Robart has ruled against Motorola regarding a proposed ban of Xbox 360 sales in the United States. The ruling comes as part of an ongoing patent dispute between Motorola and Microsoft in which Microsoft was found to have violated multiple Motorola patents involving H.264 video coding and access to the internet via Wi-Fi.
Judge Robart has now ruled that those patents are “critical to industry standards” and should be “licensed on fair, reasonable and non-discriminatory terms,” according to the BBC. Motorola was asking for up to $4 billion a year from Microsoft for the right to use the technology, but a new fee will now need to be negotiated. Motorola was previously granted an injunction to ban Xbox 360 and Windows 7 sales in Germany, but that ban has now been overturned by Robart’s ruling.
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Source: IGN Tech