Tag Archives: Olaf Scholz

The German Health Minister has called for a lockdown, considering a Russian vaccine | Instant News


A health worker treats a Covid-19 patient in the ICU ward at Robert Bosch Hospital in Stuttgart, Germany, on Tuesday, January 12, 2021. Chancellor Angela Merkel warned that Germany faces a tough lockdown until the end of March if the authorities fail to do so. contains a fast-spreading variant of the corona virus.

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LONDON – Germany is one step closer to a national lockdown on Friday as Chancellor Angela Merkel moves to standardize state restrictions.

“The infection protection law will be amended to give the federal state the necessary powers,” a government spokesman said in Berlin on Friday.

The law reform is expected to be approved by lawmakers next week and the lockdown could take effect soon after.

Earlier on Friday, German health authorities said they were worried about a spike in coronavirus infections in the country and said a national lockdown was needed to end the ongoing third wave.

Germany has been facing a high rate of Covid infection since last October and, despite the increase in February, the number of new cases has risen since late March.

“Many citizens recognize the need to break this wave with additional steps and the majority support tougher rules. One closure is needed to break the current tide,” Jens Spahn, Germany’s health minister, said at a news conference Friday.

This third wave of the coronavirus is putting pressure on the country’s health system at a time when regional and federal governments clash over appropriate action to take.

“The number of intensive care patients is increasing too fast. Doctors and nurses have been under constant pressure for months and precisely sounded the alarm,” said Spahn.

“We have to break the third wave as quickly as possible. That means: reduced contact and reduced mobility. This is the only way to prevent further increases.”

The country reports more than 30,000 new Covid cases on Wednesday and around 26,000 on Thursday.

German officials have been divided over the right approach to handling the escalating cases citizens become frustrated with the different arrangements among different regions.

Speaking to CNBC earlier this week, German Finance Minister Olaf Scholz said: “If we can take similar action everywhere, this will really help and make it more understandable.”

It comes as German health authorities are pushing for an increase in vaccinations in the country, which are already bearing fruit. As of Thursday, the daily inoculation count is approaching 720,000 compared with about 317,000 a week ago, according to data from the ministry of health.

“I think we’re going to get to a situation where, by the end of this month, it’s going to be 4 to 5 million doses a week,” Scholz told CNBC.

Sputnik V

Speaking at a press conference Friday, the health minister confirmed that contract negotiations to buy the Russian-developed Sputnik V vaccine are ongoing now, according to Reuters. Spahn added that there are still question marks whether this vaccine will be available in the coming months.

The European Drug Administration began assessing the Russian fire early March and will decide whether to recommend it for use in the 27 EU member states. Although regulators are using an urgent method to check the efficacy of Sputnik V, it’s unclear when it will get final approval.

Authorities in Germany previously said they would consider using the Russian vaccine if the EMA concluded that the injection was effective at preventing the Covid-19 virus.

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COVID-19 left Germany with its highest budget shortfall in 30 years | Instant News


Germany is experiencing the highest budget shortfall, 189.2 billion euros ($ 225 billion) in 2020, since Germany’s reunification three decades ago. Germany’s public sector deficit reached its first since 2013, thanks to the coronavirus pandemic, said the Office of Statistics.

The pandemic, which has claimed more than 77,000 lives in Germany so far, has destroyed Europe’s largest economy, although it proved to be more resilient than many thought, partly due to strong export demand from China.

Public spending rose 12.1% to 1.7 trillion euros in 2020 as the government pulled all stops to offset the impact of the month-long lockdown, while tax revenues fell 3.5% to 1.5 trillion euros, the statistics office said on Wednesday.

Shopping spree is set to continue, with German Finance Minister Olaf Scholz last month vowed to do whatever is necessary to allow Germany to emerge from the economic slump caused by the coronavirus.

Germany is struggling to contain the third wave of the pandemic and will close many businesses, such as bars and cinemas, until at least the end of this month.

However, the number of people with shortened working hours decreased last month, driven by the industrial sector, which benefited from strong exports, the Ifo agency said on Wednesday.

Companies can shorten workers’ working hours under government schemes designed to avoid mass layoffs during downturns by offering subsidies to companies to keep workers paid.

In March, 2.7 million employees had hours worked shortened, down from 2.9 million, estimates Ifo.

The number of people in the scheme peaked around 6 million years ago, but has been increasing ever since Germany entered its second lockdown late last year.

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Scholz Germany on the Covid crisis, vaccinations and higher taxes | Instant News


This is not the time to consider a full reopening of the German economy, but rather a time to be strict and keep coronavirus infections low, Germany’s finance minister told CNBC, adding that richer households will soon pay more taxes.

“There is no time to open up. This is a time to be very difficult, to keep the infection rate low,” German Finance Minister Olaf Scholz told CNBC’s Annette Weisbach on Tuesday.

Europe’s strongest economy has suffered from the coronavirus pandemic, having faced a different wave of infections and subsequent lockdowns. In 2020, the German economy contracted by nearly 5%, according to data from the International Monetary Fund, and is only seen growing by 3.6% this year.

At the same time, opposing public health messages from national and local leaders further complicates the situation.

Armin Laschet, the leader of North Rhine-Westphalia, for example, said on Monday there should be a nationwide shutdown. But only last week he had asked for flexibility so that various countries’ leaders can fight the pandemic as they see fit. Chancellor Angela Merkel also reversed plans for closure during Easter.

“If we can achieve similar action everywhere, this will really help and make it more understandable,” said Scholz, referring to a different regional approach.

Blatant chaos

There are growing calls in Germany for a more unified approach to the fight against the coronavirus. Citizens are frustrated by the different arrangements among different regions as infections continue to increase.

Merkel herself called for a stricter and uniform approach across the country, but regional leaders have so far prevented it.

As of Tuesday, Germany had recorded more than 2.9 million cases of Covid-19 and 77,103 deaths, according to data from the European Center for Disease Prevention and Control.

At the same time, there are concerns about the speed with which vaccinations are launched. Germany has distributed 22.8 doses of Covid-19 injections per 100 residents as of Monday, according to the ECDC. This is lower than France, Cyprus, Ireland and Hungary – just to name a few examples in the wider EU.

In addition, German health experts last week decided to suspend use of the Oxford-AstraZeneca shot for people under 60 due to renewed concern over reports of blood clots. This could be another hurdle in a broader rollout as fewer people are now eligible to receive these injections and the relatively limited number of vaccines available.

Speaking to CNBC, Scholz seemed confident about the weeks and months to come for Covid vaccinations.

“I think we’ll get to a situation where by the end of this month it will be 4 to 5 million doses a week,” he said.

“I think this will make the necessary progress and this is why we have to be strict now because if we are strict about reducing infections it will be easier to have success with vaccinations,” he added.

More taxes

Scholz, a top figure of Germany’s Social Democratic Party, previously said the country needed to do whatever was necessary to emerge from the crisis caused by the coronavirus.

Germany is expected to borrow more than 240 billion euros ($ 283 billion) this year to shore up the economy, an issue debated by more fiscally conservative lawmakers. Germany has a long track record of controlling its finances, having approved in 2009 that the government could incur significant new debt.

The coronavirus pandemic has changed the dynamics surrounding Germany’s debt as more and more experts argue that the government needs to continue providing stimulus.

“We will continue to do whatever is necessary. It’s expensive – but doing nothing will lead to higher costs,” Scholz told reporters late last month.

But with more loans, there will be more taxes.

Germany “will have the opportunity to tackle all the burdens that come from fighting the coronavirus with better growth in the coming years,” said Scholz, before adding: “Obviously there are situations where there is no time for tax breaks for the rich. or for large companies. “

“There is a need for tax breaks for low- and middle-income households in the household, but obviously those who are very rich, who have very high incomes and corporations cannot expect a tax reduction,” he said.

Germany is gearing up for national elections in late September. Merkel, who has served as chancellor of Europe’s biggest economy for 16 years, said she would not seek a fifth term.

“I am sure there will be changes after the next election. As you know, I am running for the next chancellor and my party wants to lead the next government and the chances are getting bigger,” he said.

German Finance Minister and Deputy Chancellor Olaf Scholz.

HANNIBAL HANSCHKE | AFP | Getty Images

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A constitutional complaint against the EU recovery fund was filed in Germany – POLITICO | Instant News


FRANKFURT – A group of citizens on Friday filed a constitutional complaint against Germany for allowing the European Union to borrow the € 750 billion allocated to the Next Generation EU recovery fund.

The group of more than 2,200 citizens filed a complaint against the ratification law in the so-called European Union Self-Resources Decree, said group spokesman Bernd Lucke in a statement. The group argues that the EU is contractually obliged to present a balanced budget and that € 750 billion in debt financing is “a blatant breach of contract.”

Germany’s lower house of parliament on Thursday voted a majority in favor of the EU’s plans to take on joint debt and to support member states hardest hit by the coronavirus crisis.

The group also filed a provisional order with the aim of barring the federal president from signing into law until the Federal Constitutional Court ruled on the complaint.

German Finance Minister Olaf Scholz said he expected Germany’s Constitutional Court to give the green light to the recovery fund.

“Experience with comparable lawsuits leads me to believe that the ratification of the capital adequacy resolution can be completed in a timely manner,” Scholz said in an emailed statement.

He also said that the vote of the MPs was a clear signal for European solidarity and strength. “In Germany, the broad cross-party majority represents Europe which is based on solidarity and is able to act,” he said.

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German Members of Parliament to summon Merkel over the Wirecard scandal | News | DW | Instant News


On Wednesday, German lawmakers said they planned to question Chancellor Angela Merkel and Deputy Chancellor and Finance Minister Olaf Scholz about the Wirecard scandal.

Wirecard filed for protection from creditors through bankruptcy proceedings in June 2020 after admitting that € 1.9 billion that should have been deposited in a trust account in the Philippines may not have existed. The once rising digital payments giant was also found to have billions in debt. The company is suspected of having faked balance sheets for years.

Free Democratic (FDP) finance expert Florian Toncar told DW that Merkel “lobbied to support Wirecard with the Chinese president” during a 2019 trip to China.

“At that time, the chancellor should not have lobbied on behalf of the company, but prosecutors and police should have come in and searched the company premises,” he said.

Merkel will be called to testify on April 23, a day after Scholz, the candidate the center-left Social Democratic Party (SPD) hopes will replace Merkel’s Christian Democrats after this year’s national elections.

Toncar also told DW that Scholz’s ministry failed to prevent the scandal.

“Most of the political responsibility lies with the Ministry of Finance, the Ministry of Olaf Scholz,” said Toncar, a lawyer specializing in international finance and a member of the parliamentary inquiry investigating Wirecard’s bankruptcy.

‘Irresponsible culture’

Parliamentary committee members were formed to investigate the widely publicized claims of adultery find great failure on the part of German authorities and politicians.

On Wednesday, German lawmaker Toncar told reporters that the financial authorities and political leaders had “strong and reasonable indications. criminal behavior on Wirecard … and not just from newspapers. “

He denounced the “culture of irresponsibility” in Germany, saying it was primarily focused on “who has jurisdiction and who doesn’t have jurisdiction.”

“By the way, our impression is the worse the higher your hierarchy,” he said.

Such scams ‘need a network’

Leftist party lawmaker Fabio de Masi accused government officials of cooperating to allow the “fraud”.

“No one person can commit fraud like that, it takes a network,” said de Masi. Among other things, he criticized the “very ongoing commitment of the German government” to Wirecard in China even after serious accusations were exposed.

A nine-member investigative committee was formed in early October at the request of parliamentary opposition groups from the Left, Green and the FDP. Authorities are also examining the fugitive of Wirecard’s former chief of operations, Jan Marsalek, who has reportedly been an informant to Austrian intelligence agency BVT.

Interpol issued a red notice for Marsalek in 2020 for charges of “ breach of Germany’s obligations for securities acts and acts of securities trading, criminal breaches of trust (and) very serious cases of fraud. ”

lc / dj (AFP, AP)

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