Hard Brexit to cost German car industry jobs: study

A “hard Brexit,” meaning the UK’s departure from the European Union’s single market as well as customs union, would result in thousands of job losses in the German automotive industry, says a new study.

England London Brexit Nationalflaggen vor Big Ben (Getty Images/AFP/G. Kirk)

German and European carmakers could see their revenues decline by as much as 20 percent in the event of the UK leaving the EU’s single market and customs union entirely, concluded a new study released Thursday by the consulting firm Deloitte.

The UK is an extremely important market for German automakers. About a fifth of Germany’s automotive exports are shipped to Great Britain. In 2016, around 950,000 newly registered vehicles in the UK were made in Germany.

It is estimated that as many as 60,000 automotive jobs in Germany are dependent on exports to the UK. Deloitte’s researchers projected that about 18,000 of them would be threatened by a hard Brexit.

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Formal Brexit talks have started between the EU and the UK

A weakened British pound, they said, would increase the price of German-made cars while decreasing the purchasing power of the British buyer, leading to a drop in demand. Customs duties would raise the car price even higher, with the study estimating that vehicles made in Germany could cost as much as 21 percent more than they do now in the UK.

Big losses

The report noted that car manufacturers based in continental Europe would be the biggest losers from such a scenario.

It said that although firms based in the UK and those from other non-EU countries would be able to gain some market share in the short term, they would not be able to benefit from the situation in the long run. That’s because their production costs would increase as they rely on suppliers based in the EU, whose parts would become pricier, the authors argued.

Formal talks about the British departure from the European Union began this week, with the UK’s Brexit Minister David Davis stressing that Britain would have to quit the bloc’s common market and customs union to ensure the return of full sovereignty.

Read: German firms warn Brexit will ‘seriously damage’ UK business

The clock is ticking for Britain’s exit from the bloc as Article 50 sets out a strict two year timetable. That means a deal will have to be agreed by March 2019, failing which Britain would fall back on World Trade Organization rules, which could result in higher export tariffs and other barriers.

Britain’s Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders, an automotive industry body, this week urged the government to agree on an interim Brexit trade deal, calling for Britain to keep membership of the European single market and customs union until a final Brexit deal has been signed.

sri/bea (dpa, AFP)

 

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France’s Emmanuel Macron outlines vision for Franco-German alliance

French President Macron has said boosting cooperation with Germany was crucial to regaining the trust of European voters. His comments came ahead of his first EU leaders summit in Brussels.

Frankreich Wahlen Macron (picture alliance/AP Photo/T.Camus)

French President Emmanuel Macron on Thursday called on Germany to work alongside France in fostering a fresh approach to European politics and winning back the trust of people feeling disenfranchised by the EU.

Speaking to a number of European newspapers ahead of his first EU leader summit in Brussels on Thursday, Macron said the greatest threat facing the bloc was the propensity for lawmakers and voters to veer away from liberal policies.

Read more: Opinion: Europe, En Marche!

“The question now is: will Europe succeed in defending the deep values it brought to the world for decades, or will it be wiped out by the rise in illiberal democracies and authoritarian regimes,” he said.

Watch video01:17

Let The Reform Begin

The French president called on Germany and France to drive the necessary reforms needed to reconcile citizens with the European project. Macron’s policy roadmap would see the EU promote “greater economic and social wellbeing” and introduce tighter rules on workers and make it harder for companies to employ low-wage labor from eastern Europe.

“One country’s strength cannot feed on the weakness of others,” Macron told reporters. The French president insisted that German Chancellor Angela Merkel was in total agreement and realized the need for deeper cooperation. “Germany, which underwent a series of reforms around 15 years ago, is realizing that this isn’t viable,” he said.

Doubts remain over new eurozone ministry

One area where Macron’s vision has drawn skepticism in Berlin concerns the euro currency. The French president has called for a common eurozone budget and a democratically controlled “Euro Ministry.”

Reports last month suggested that the proposal had been rejected in Berlin by German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble.

Read more: Macron’s EU ideals meet Merkel’s mastery

However, Macron insisted on Thursday that it was the “only means of achieving more convergence within the eurozone,” and that “Germany does not it deny it.”

On Tuesday, Merkel signaled that she would be open to the idea of a eurozone budget.

“We could, of course, consider a common finance minister, if the conditions are right,” the chancellor said in a speech at the annual congress held by Germany’s largest industrial lobby, the Federation of German Industries. However, Merkel ruled out any European body taking responsibility for member states’ risks and liabilities for debt.

Watch video25:59

Victory for Macron – Challenge for Europe?

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EU agrees to joint sanctions on cyberattacks

The EU has agreed to use a “cyber diplomacy toolbox” against hackers targeting member states. The move comes amid concern hackers may seek to influence German elections in September.

Symbolbild Cyberangriff (picture-alliance/dpa/MAXPPP/A. Marchi)

The European Union agreed Monday that a cyberattack on any member state would be met by a joint response, including sanctions on state and non-state hackers.

EU foreign ministers meeting in Luxembourg said in a statement that the bloc would use a “cyber diplomacy toolbox” to respond to malicious cyberactivities targeting computer systems.

“A joint EU response to malicious cyberactivities would be proportionate to the scope, scale, duration, intensity, complexity, sophistication and impact of the cyberactivity,” foreign ministers said in a statement.

So-called restrictive measures typically target individuals, groups, companies or governments with travel bans, asset freezes and restrictions on doing business.

Read more: Vladimir Putin’s ‘freelance artist’ hackers

Election worries

With German elections coming up in September, there is rising concern within the EU that individuals or groups could carry out malicious cyberattacks to influence the elections, possibly backed by a foreign government such as Russia.

The German government last month warned political parties to take extra defense against the hacking of their computer systems after alleged Russian-backed cyberattacks to influence the US and French elections through the release of hacked emails.

Suspected Russian-backed hackers broke into the email accounts of German lawmakers in 2015, and subsequently targeted political parties including Angela Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union.

Hans-Georg Maassen, the head of Germany’s domestic intelligence agency, said in early May that “large amounts of data” had been seized in the cyberattacks.

“Our counterpart is trying to generate information that can be used for disinformation or for influence operations,” he told a conference in Potsdam, near Berlin. “Whether they do it or not is a political decision … that I assume will be made in the Kremlin.”

Watch video02:23

Election security in the digital age

cw/tj (AFP, AP, Reuters)

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German economy is responsible for 4.8 million jobs in the EU

Germany has recently been criticized for its large trade surplus. Ever since Donald Trump took up the topic, businesses have been worried. Now a new study takes on these accusations.

England Wirtschaft Container (Picture alliance/empics/A. Matthews)

According to a new study, the German economy is responsible for 4.8 million European jobs. The paper released on Friday by the Swiss-based consultancy Prognos, argues that high demand in Germany does not slow development in neighboring countries, but is an important driving force behind their growth.

The Bavarian Industry Association (vbw) asked for the report because of the continuing criticism of Germany’s current account surplus, which has recently come under fire from Donald Trump.

In 2015, Germany imported goods worth around $620 billion (555 billion euros) from other EU counties. A downturn in the Germany economy would have the effect of lowering economic output across the European Union by 36 billion euros by 2023.

“Our study debunks the myth that German economic competitiveness harms our neighbors,” says Bertram Brossardt, head of vbw.

Strong demand for imports

The strength of Germany’s industry and its import demands are of particular interest and benefit to neighboring countries. Its main suppliers are the Netherlands, France and Belgium, followed by Italy, Poland and the Czech Republic. The bulk of these imports are to supply industry; only 28 percent are consumer goods.

The report suggests that in Poland alone around 890,000 jobs are directly related to German demand, which is more than any other European Union country.

Additionally, the competitiveness of German industry does not squeeze out companies from other countries, says Prognos. Instead European economies benefit from German strength. These countries not only sell more products, but also cover their own needs with German products.

In view of these results, Brossardt urges ending “the fictitious debate about the negative effects of the current German account surplus,” adding that “a weaker German economy and industry would not make any other country stronger and thus benefit no one.”

A surplus of almost nine percent

For nearly all EU member states, Germany is the most important or second most important export market, according to Prognos. German demand for imported goods accounts for between seven and eight percent of the total gross domestic product (GDP) in countries like the Czech Republic, Slovakia, the Netherlands and Austria; therefore providing hundreds of thousands of jobs.

Germany exports goods and services worth more than $1 trillion a year, but imports much less. This export surplus of nearly 270 billion euros is equivalent to around nine percent of its economic output, putting Germany in first place ahead of China and Japan. America on the other hand has an export deficit of $478 billion.

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Germany’s trade surplus

wen/tr (dpa, vbw)

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Opinion: Helmut Kohl, a great statesman

DW’s former editor-in-chief, Alexander Kudascheff, pays tribute to Germany’s longest-serving chancellor.

Audioslideshow Helmut Kohl Michail Gorbatschow (Vitaly Armand/AFP/Getty Images))

Helmut Kohl was the chancellor of both German and European unification. He held office for 16 years, and spent a quarter of a century as party chairman of the Christian Democratic Union (CDU). That alone demonstrates incredible stamina, great assertiveness and a determination for power, but it also reveals his democratic luck at the ballot box. He was reelected to the country’s top job four times, which is an impressive political achievement by any standard.

In his apparently eternal role as CDU chairman, his nose for developments within his own rank and file and his mistrust of critical currents became legendary. That said, in 1989, he was fighting for survival as chairman at a CDU convention in Bremen. The collapse of the Iron Curtain came at the right moment, and Kohl used the opportunity presented by the fall of the communist dictatorships both to his own and to Germany’s advantage. He shaped history. And during those months, he became a statesman.

Alexander KudascheffDW’s former editor-in-chief Alexander Kudascheff

Helmut Kohl was, without a doubt, the chancellor of German reunification. He ignored the reluctance, fear and reservations – both at home and abroad – and from November 1989 onwards, worked determinedly towards that goal. On October 3, 1990, he achieved it. He demonstrated political, even historic instincts, at exactly the right moment. And for some, that made him a 20th-century Bismarck.

But Kohl was not only a German patriot who accepted the gift offered by those historic revolutions in eastern Europe, he was also a true European. For 16 years, and at numerous European summits, he continued to promote the European project.

He was also – and this is decisive for his stature as a statesman – a co-founder of the single European currency, the euro. Thinking along broad historical lines, he understood that a common currency was the only way to overcome the issues of a strong German deutschmark, and possible resentment in France, the UK and other EU countries.

Helmut Kohl was a statesman. He was a politician who favored both German reunification and a greater European union. He was a resolute man, who recognized what had to be done, and did it. And that’s what gave him – regardless of the criticism leveled at him within Germany – an international reputation as a well-respected and highly regarded political leader.

Germany presents racism action plan, invests millions into preventing extremism

Germany’s Family and Interior Ministries have announced a new national action plan against racism. In tackling extremism, some 100 million euros are to be specifically invested in preventing Islamist radicalization.

Berlin Aufmarsch rechter Gruppierungen Gegendemonstration (picture-alliance/dpa/B. von Jutrczenka)

Newly-appointed Family and Youth Minister Katarina Barley (SPD) on Wednesday called to further strengthen efforts to prevent all forms of extremism, calling for a federal law on the prevention of extremism to stabilize projects and initiatives against, for example, right-wing extremism.

Although there is now more money available for prevention, “we aren’t yet on target,” Barley said on Wednesday.

Announcing the findings of a report into extremism prevention, Barley said at a press conference in Berlin that in fighting Islamist extremism, “we must not wait until young people have become radicalized.”

“Security and prevention must go hand in hand,” she added.

Katarina BarleyGerman Family and Youth Affairs Minister Katarina Barley

According to Barley, prevention work must begin where the threat is particularly high, for example in the school yard, on the internet, and also in the prisons.

100-million-euro investment

As part of Germany’s 2018 “national prevention program” against extremism, some 100 million euros will be invested into specifically combating Islamist extremism. Some funds will be allocated to supporting mosque communities, while money will also be invested in expanding the prevention of radicalization online.

“Every euro we invest [in prevention] is a very well-spent euro, as it serves to create security,” Barley said.

Watch video01:59

Combating the Islamist threat

In the crackdown on Islamist radicalization, Barley rejected demands made earlier this month, however, to allow the surveillance of minors who may be involved in Islamist groups.

– German minister advocates rule change to allow surveillance of children

“Minors have already committed serious acts of violence,” Bavarian Interior Minister Joachim Herrmann told the Funke media group, adding that Germany “must consequently deal” with such cases.

Barley on Wednesday described Herrmann’s demand as a “misguided approach,” arguing that children should be protected from slipping into radicalized violence.

Germany’s governing “grand coalition” has already reduced the minimum age for monitoring by Germany’s intelligence agencies from 16 to 14 years.

Watch video06:03

Experiences of racism in Germany – Q&A with Marianne Balle Moudoumbou

National anti-racism action plan

Together with Parliamentary State Secretary in the Interior Ministry, Günter Krings (CDU), Barley also presented on Wednesday the updated National Action Plan against Racism.

In principle, the aim is to “show clear boundaries, regardless of where discrimination occurs, whether in leisure time, online or in the workplace,” Barley said.

– Over 200 attacks on Muslims in first quarter of the year in Germany

– Opinion: Germany must take anti-Semitism fear seriously

 – UN experts accuse Germany of ‘structural racism’

At the center of the new action plan are issues including human rights policy, protection against discrimination in daily life, for example in the workplace, as well as the punishment of criminal offenses.

Other elements include education and political education, as well as racism and hate speech online.

On the basis of the coalition agreement, the action plan has also been expanded to cover the issues of homosexuality and transphobia.

– Homophobic crimes in Germany up almost 20 percent

Greens politician Volker Beck criticized the plan, however, saying it was lacking in concrete proposals for action.

“Instead of binding measures, only the current situation of gays, lesbians, bi-, trans- and intersexuals was described,” Beck said.

Watch video11:25

Right-wing movements a major threat to LGBTI success

Petra Pau, a member of the executive committee of the leftist Linke faction, and member of the inquiry committee into the right-wing extremist National Socialist Underground (NSU), welcomed the action plan and increase in subsidies for social initiatives against right-wing extremism and racism.

“So far so good,” she said in a statement, adding, however, that the subsidies are limited in time: “This is ineffective and short-sighted, as the fight against right-wing extremism and racism requires continuity and endurance.”

– Bundestag: Neo-Nazi NSU ‘had more than three members’

– Opinion: New Bundestag NSU inquiry is necessary work

Infografik Rechtsextremismus Straftaten Deutschland ENG

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Frau Merkel, you might not like Herr Trump but you need him

John Moody

Here’s some unsolicited advice for German Chancellor Angela Merkel: Achtung!

Merkel’s uncalled-for remarks about the United States no longer being a trustworthy partner for its European allies set off a frenzy. Was she so displeased with President Trump during last week’s G-7 meeting? Was their discourse so strident that she thought a verbal warning shot was necessary?

Or is she just trying to keep her job?

Remember, Germany has federal elections scheduled for September, and Merkel, while slightly ahead in most polls, has no sure lock on keeping her party, the Christian Democrats, in the majority. A strong, though receding surge for Socialist Martin Schulz, and a newly energized far-right party, the Alternative for Germany, has squeezed the chancellor, who has been in power since 2005.

But Merkel’s horrible decision to open the gates of Europe to tens of thousands of refugees from the Middle East and Africa turned her own people against her. Only Germany’s robust economy has saved her from humiliation in the last round of local elections – often an indicator of how federal elections will turn out.

Since she invited migrants into her country, and forced her neighbors to do the same, Europe has suffered nearly a dozen major terror attacks, none more horrific than the December 2016 Christmas market truck massacre in Berlin, which killed 12 and left Germany feeling very exposed to lone-wolf Islamic horror.

And who was among the first to decry Merkel’s come-one, come-all policy? Donald Trump. Who spoke up about the lopsided trade deficit the United States has with Germany? Donald Trump. Who lectured European members of NATO – specifically Germany – about not paying its fair share for the continent’s defense. Same answer.

Among her European counterparts, Merkel is used to being treated with deference. Germany is really the economic engine for the entire continent, and the only country willing to shell out its own resources to bail out the ne’er-do-wells like Greece, who have become addicted to free money.

When the United Kingdom opted out of the European Union last June, Merkel took it as a personal affront and has since schemed to make the U.K. pay a heavy price for its willfulness.

You might not like Mr. Trump, Frau Merkel. He is rude and outspoken and typically, in your view, American. But remember: Russia is to your east. Vladimir Putin is not impressed with the paltry defense force Europe could put together, if it did not have the United States behind it.

Verstehen?

John Moody is Executive Vice President, Executive Editor for Fox News. A former Rome bureau chief for Time magazine, he is the author of four books including “Pope John Paul II : Biography.

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