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German ex-nurse Hoegel launches appeal over mass murder conviction

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Hoegel was charged with 100 counts of murder.

In 15 of these cases, the court found the accusations were not beyond reasonable doubt and cleared him.

Noting the severity of his crimes, the court in the city of Oldenburg virtually ruled out Hoegel’s release from prison after 15 years, as is usual practice for a life sentence in Germany.

If the appeal is allowed, a higher court in Leipzig will examine procedural or legal errors only and not new facts.

No new evidence would be submitted.

Hoegel admitted to killing patients with lethal injections and was already serving a life sentence after being found guilty in 2015 of murdering two people.

He selected his victims in hospitals in the cities of Oldenburg and Delmenhorst in north-western Germany, injecting them with medication that led to heart failure or other complications between 2000 and 2005.

Abiodun Oluleye: is a graduate and a professionally trained journalist, with experience in national news reporting/editing and verification at the News Agency of Nigeria. NNN is a Nigerian online news portal that publishes breaking news in Nigeria, and across the world. Our journalists are honest, fair, accurate, thorough and courageous in gathering, reporting and interpreting news in the best interest of the public, because truth is the cornerstone of journalism and they strive diligently to ascertain the truth in every news report. Contact: editor[at]nnn.com.ng

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Germany reports more than 179,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19

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New infections with COVID-19 in Germany remained under last week’s average as the number of confirmed cases increased by 432 within one day to 179,002, the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) announced on Tuesday.

Over the course of last week, an average of 561 daily cases had been reported by the RKI, the federal government agency for disease control and prevention.

According to the RKI, the number of deaths from the new coronavirus in Germany increased by 45 to 8,302 on Tuesday, resulting in a fatality rate of 4.6 percent in the country.

The estimated number of people in Germany who had already recovered from COVID-19 increased by around 800 within one day to 162,000 on Tuesday, according to the RKI. The number of people infected with COVID-19 in Germany continued to fall and stood at around 17,000 on Tuesday.

The four-day average reproduction rate of COVID-19 in Germany decreased from 0.94 to 0.83, according to the daily situation report by the RKI for Monday.

On Monday, government spokesperson Steffen Seibert said that German Chancellor Angela Merkel considered mere recommendations to be insufficient. “Binding rules” regarding the 1.5-meter distance rule, contact restrictions and hygiene regulations should continue to apply.

In Germany, federal states have the decision-making power over the everyday rules during the coronavirus crisis. Some states such as Thuringia and Saxony are planning far-reaching relaxations from June 6.

(XINHUA)

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Lufthansa agrees on bailout with German government

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The German Government and Lufthansa have agreed on a much-anticipated bailout deal to help the airline cope with losses from the coronavirus pandemic, both sides announced on Monday.

The deal, which provides for aid and equity measures worth nine billion euros ($9.8 billion), is yet to be approved by Lufthansa’s supervisory board and the European Commission’s competition watchdog.

The German government said that Lufthansa had been profitable before the pandemic, but is now facing the biggest financial crisis in its history.

The pandemic has grounded around 90 per cent of its planes.

At one point, the firm was losing about 800 million euros per month.

The stabilisation package takes into account the needs of the company, as well as the needs of taxpayers and its employees.

The status of some 138,000 employed by the airline and its many subsidiaries, which include Austrian, Brussels, Eurowings, Swiss and others, along with Lufthansa Cargo, was a major factor in talks.

The German economic stabilisation fund, set up by the government during the coronavirus crisis to be able to acquire stakes in important companies in an emergency, approved the deal earlier on Monday.

Lufthansa’s executive board also approved the deal.

As part of the bailout, the government would receive a 20-per-cent stake in the company.

Some of the conditions, Berlin has set before it will take part, include more stringent environmental protections.

The stabilisation fund will also make a silent capital contribution of up to 5.7 billion euros in Lufthansa’s assets.

The interest rate is planned to increase from an initial four per cent to 9.5 per cent.

A loan of up to three billion euros is also planned with the participation of the state-owned KfW bank and private banks with a term of three years.

According to the announcements, conditions will include a waiver of future dividend payments and two supervisory board seats will be filled in coordination with the government.

Chancellor Angela Merkel said last week that the government had been in “intensive talks” not only with Lufthansa but also with the European Commission.

According to reports by the business daily Handelsblatt, Merkel intends to oppose any attempt by the European Commission to deprive Lufthansa of take-off and landing slots in return for the large state rescue package being negotiated.

According to the report, the EU competition authority plans to take slots away from the airline, Europe’s second-largest by passenger numbers, at its main hubs of Frankfurt and Munich.

Politicians from Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union (CDU) confirmed this to dpa.

Merkel is reported to have said “this will be a hard struggle’’.

Economy Minister, Peter Altmaier, said on Monday that a number of questions still needed to be clarified with the European Commission regarding the deal and that Berlin would “fight and work” to ensure that Lufthansa could continue to operate as before in Germany.

European Commission watchdog authorities did not want to comment on whether their approval of the deal would be subject to special conditions.

However, a spokeswoman for the watchdog did point out that the rules for coronavirus aid in cases such as that of Lufthansa provide for “additional commitments to preserve effective competition’’.

The commission has recently eased the rules for state aid in light of the pandemic, but it is continuing to monitor for disproportionate help that could disrupt competition in the internal market.

A general condition, for example, would be that aid paid for with taxpayer money is sufficiently compensated.

AIB

Edited By: Abdulfatah Babatunde (NAN)

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Czech Republic lifts more restrictions, opens borders with Austria, Germany

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The Czech Republic on Monday lifted more restrictions, including those on hotels, swimming pools, castles and chateaus, and the indoor sections of restaurants, in a bid to further reopen the economy.

Elementary school children are also allowed to return to school in small groups. Minister of Education Robert Plaga proposed that secondary school, vocational, and conservatory school students be able to return to classes on a voluntary basis beginning June 8.

A mandatory requirement for covering the nose and mouth in public has also been lifted. Wearing face mask is only required in enclosed spaces.

The Karvina region of the country will still undergo restrictive measures for at least another 14 days following a large outbreak of COVID-19 amongst workers in the Darkov Mine, according to Health Minister Adam Vojtech. A blanket test revealed that 212 miners and their close contacts tested positive for the disease.

The country will also begin reopening its borders to neighboring Germany and Austria on Tuesday in a further bid to normalize life amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

“From Tuesday, we are opening all railway and road crossings with Germany and Austria, as well as the Hrensko river crossing, and we are abolishing comprehensive border controls. We negotiated with our German and Austrian colleagues so that the conditions would be similar for them as well,” said Interior Minister Jan Hamacek in a press release, adding that a proof for a negative COVID-19 test will still be mandatory and border checks will be random.

The country is also opening up international flights again at major airports on Tuesday.

Crossing borders in non-designated areas will still be prohibited until June 13, and the external borders of the Schengen area will be closed until at least June 15.

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Lufthansa says German gov’t approves 9-bln-euro rescue package

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German flag carrier Deutsche Lufthansa AG said on Monday that the federal government’s Economic Stabilization Fund (WSF) has approved a nine-billion-euro rescue package (9.8 billion U.S. dollars) for the company.

Lufthansa said the WSF would provide up to 5.7 billion euros in the form of “silent participation” in the company’s assets, of which nearly 4.7 billion euros would be classified as equity in accordance with related financial rules.

Under German law, “silent participation” is unlimited in time and can be terminated by the company on a quarterly basis in whole or in part.

The WSF will also acquire shares worth about 300 million euros in the form of a capital increase in order to build up a 20 percent stake in Lufthansa. The WSF may increase its stake to 25 percent plus one share in the event of a takeover of the company.

Other measures in the package include a syndicated credit facility of up to three billion euros with the participation of state development bank KfW as well as private banks, with a term of three years.

The conditions of the deal include a waiver of future dividend payments and restrictions on management remuneration. Two seats on the Supervisory Board are to be filled in agreement with the German government, one of which is to become a member of the audit committee, said the company.

Noting that the Executive Board supports the package, the company said it still requires final approval from the Management Board and the Supervisory Board. It is also subject to the approval of the European Commission, the company added.

Lufthansa was operationally healthy and profitable before the pandemic and has good prospects for the future, but it came into an existential emergency due to the coronavirus crisis, the WSF Committee, which consists of representatives of several federal ministries, said in a joint statement.

The government’s stabilization package takes into account the needs of the company as well as those of taxpayers and employees of the Lufthansa Group, the ministries said.

In early May, Lufthansa revealed that it was in talks with the federal government on a rescue package to finance the troubled airline amid the coronavirus crisis.

The COVID-19 pandemic has caused considerable damage to the aviation industry worldwide, with flights largely grounded due to the travel restrictions imposed by many countries.

Preliminary results released in late April showed that Lufthansa’s group revenues fell by 18 percent to 6.4 billion euros in the first quarter. In March alone, revenues declined by 47 percent.

The group announced in mid-May that it would gradually resume services in June. It plans to offer around 1,800 weekly round trips to more than 130 destinations worldwide by the end of June. (1 euro = 1.09 U.S. dollars)

(XINHUA)

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German FA president calls for player salary cap to help keep fans

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The President of German Football Association (DFB), Fritz Keller, says football must learn long term lessons from the coronavirus crisis to keep fans on board.

Keller suggested better financial controls and player salary caps to do this.

Germany’s Bundesliga was shut for more than two months in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, before becoming the first major football league to resume action last week.

“We have to learn from our mistakes, because the crisis is an opportunity to restructure football,” Keller said in a virtual address to the DFB’s extraordinary meeting on Monday.

“We need to bring professional football to the people, to their everyday world. So we need an improved financial control system and, yes, a salary cap,” he added.

Some German clubs were close to financial collapse after the first month of suspension, the league had warned, as it pushed for a restart.

But the restart has also been criticised by some as too early.

The DFB meeting also approved the restart on May 30, of Germany’s third division, with the last match day scheduled on July 4.

This was in spite of opposition by some of its members who had called for the season to be abandoned.

In a vote, 222 were in favour of a resumption of the division, with 12 voting against and 16 abstaining.

Germany had reported some 178,570 positive COVID-19 cases, while the death toll rose by 10 on Monday to 8,257.

Keller noted that football needed to think long term.

“Commissions for agents and immense transfer figure irritate society and estrange them from our beloved sport. Football has to offer satisfactory answers to these issues.

“We do not only need new rules, but also a new attitude, not to think just from season to season, as we painfully found out.

“Football as a whole has to live on long term perspectives,” Keller stated.

(
Edited By: Chinyere Nwachukwu and Olawale Alabi) (NAN)

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Lufthansa agrees bailout with German government

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Bailout

Berlin, May 25, 202 The German government and Lufthansa have agreed on a much-anticipated bailout deal to help the airline cope with losses from the coronavirus pandemic, government sources said on Monday.

The deal, thought to be worth up to nine billion euros (9.8 billion dollars) is yet to be approved by Lufthansa’s supervisory board and the European Commission’s competition watchdog.

Lufthansa is facing the biggest financial crisis in its history due to the coronavirus pandemic, which has grounded around 90 per cent of its planes. At one point the firm was losing about 800 million euros per month.

Passenger traffic ground to a virtual standstill from mid-March, though Lufthansa’s freight business has continued to operate throughout the pandemic.

Government sources said the deal would be “within the framework” of a rescue plan that foresees the airline receiving a bailout totalling some nine billion euros in exchange for a 20-per-cent government-owned stake in the company.

The proposed deal was put forward by a government committee set up under legislation enacted in March establishing a fund designed to stabilise the economy.

A key point in the talks held behind closed doors in recent weeks is that a government stake of this size would not give it a majority vote capable of blocking key decisions taken by Lufthansa management.

Another major issue is the status of some 138,000 employed by the airline and its many subsidiaries, which include Austrian, Brussels, Eurowings, Swiss and others, along with Lufthansa Cargo.

Chancellor Angela Merkel said last week that the government was in “intensive talks” not only with Lufthansa but also with the European Commission.

Among the conditions likely to be set by competition authorities is the existence of an “exit strategy” for state involvement in the airline.

According to reports by the business daily Handelsblatt, Merkel intends to oppose any attempt by the European Commission to deprive Lufthansa of take off and landing slots in return for the large state rescue package being negotiated.

According to the report, the EU competition authorities plans to take slots away from the airline, Europe’s second-largest by passenger numbers, at its main hubs of Frankfurt and Munich.

Politicians from Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union (CDU) confirmed this to dpa. Merkel is reported to have said: “This will be a hard struggle.”

EU Commission watchdog authorities did not want to comment on whether their approval of the German government taking stock in Lufthansa would be subject to special conditions.

EU state aid rules enable member states to support companies affected by the outbreak, including those active in the aviation sector,” said a spokeswoman.

The commission has recently eased the rules for state aid in light of the coronavirus pandemic, but it is continuing to monitor for any disproportionate help that could disrupt competition in the internal market.

A general condition, for example, would be that aid paid for with taxpayer money is sufficiently compensated.

IAA

Edited By: Isaac Aregbesola (NAN)

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Germany’s top court rules against VW in diesel scandal compensation case

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A top German court ruled on Monday that leading carmaker Volkswagen (VW) must pay compensation for a buyer of the VW vehicle fitted with cheat device for emissions tests.

The latest episode of so-called dieselgate scandal sets an important precedent for about 60,000 similar cases.

The Federal Court of Justice in Karlsruhe said in a statement that the buyer of the vehicle is entitled to compensation claims against VW, but the refund will not be the full purchase price, with the car’s mileage being taken into account.

A VW litigation spokesperson said in a statement that the ruling clarifies how the top court assesses the essential basic questions in the proceedings for the majority of the currently pending 60,000 cases.

The company is endeavoring to end these proceedings promptly in agreement with the plaintiffs, seeking “a pragmatic and simple solution with one-off payments,” according to the statement.

Monday’s ruling from the top civil judges basically confirmed the previous buyer-friendly judgment by a regional court in Koblenz. The plaintiffs and the defendants both appealed after the Koblenz court ruling, with the buyer demanding a full refund and the company arguing not paying at all.

The scandal surrounding illegally manipulated exhaust emission levels in millions of diesel cars turned out by VW became public in 2015. The German car giant has so far paid more than 30 billion euros (33 billion U.S. dollars) in regulatory fines and settlements worldwide.

In February, VW and the Federation of German Consumer Organizations reached an agreement on the negotiated 830 million-euro compensation settlement in a landmark action lawsuit, which involved around 260,000 VW customers.

(XINHUA)

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Germany’s Lufthansa says gov’t approves 9-bln-euro rescue package

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German flag carrier Deutsche Lufthansa AG said Monday that the Economic Stabilization Fund (WSF) set up by the federal government has approved a stabilization package of up to 9 billion euros (9.8 billion U.S. dollars) for the company.

Lufthansa said the WSF will make silent participation of up to 5.7 billion euros in total in the company’s assets, of which nearly 4.7 billion euros is classified as equity. The silent participation is unlimited in time and can be terminated by the company on a quarterly basis in whole or in part.

Two seats on the Supervisory Board are to be filled in agreement with the German government, one of which is to become a member of the Audit Committee, said the company.

While noting that the executive board supports the package, the company said the package still requires the final approval of the management board and the supervisory board. It is also subject to the approval of the European Commission, the company added. (1 euro = 1.09 U.S. dollars)

(XINHUA)

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Analysis: German “Clasico” attracting worldwide audience

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Talking about football in the difficult days of the COVID-19 crisis means talking about the German Bundesliga.

The upcoming duel between second-placed Borussia Dortmund and league leaders and reigning champions Bayern Munich is attracting worldwide attention.

With Germany one of the few countries to have restarted its domestic football league, a three-digit number of countries is to broadcast the delicate duel of Germany’s leading sides at the Signal Iduna Park.

Marketing officers from both clubs and the league association might be delighted considering the publicity effect, while fans eagerly wait for another footballing delicacy.

The worst fears of football being played behind closed doors leading to less quality have not been realized. By contrast, sides like Bayern, Dortmund, Borussia Monchengladbach, Bayer Leverkusen, and RB Leipzig gave plenty of evidence that the so-called “ghost games” have a particular charm.

Football behind closed doors seems an advantage for technically advanced sides, as football is reduced to its core activity without being affected by significant impact from the outside. In Dortmund and Bayern, two such sides are going to face off this Tuesday evening.

Fans now puzzle over the question of what will decide the nail-biting duel.

Statistics talk about the crucial starting point. To win the 2019/20 Bundesliga, Borussia Dortmund (57 points) have to beat Bayern (61) to retain any realistic chance.

However, Bayern also have tough fixtures against fifth-placed Monchengladbach and third-placed Leverkusen in the remaining six rounds.

Neither side appears to be affected by the unfamiliar atmosphere in having to play without a cheering crowd. Both Dortmund and Bayern seem to have used the six-week hiatus to recharge and perform at an impressively high level.

This is all the more surprising for Dortmund, as the team of Lucien Favre typically relies on the support of up to 80,000 fans, including 25,000 forming the so-called Yellow Wall.

Dortmund vs Bayern is not only the battle of a team of enchanting young talents challenging established stars, but the thrilling duel of the league’s top-scoring sides.

Bayern’s 80 goals in 27 matches set a new record, but Dortmund are only narrowly behind on 74.

The Bavarians’ coach Hansi Flick has led the side back to success, revitalizing the team spirit. At the same time, he has brought the best out of established stars such as Manuel Neuer, Thomas Muller, Thiago Alcantara, youngster Alphonso Davies, Serge Gnabry and Robert Lewandowski.

However, Dortmund might have found its suitable tactical 3-4-3 system just in time. The side established a solid defense around leader Mats Hummels next to full-backs Raphael Guerreiro and Achraf Hakimi.

Upfront, a gifted line of attackers such as Erling Haaland, Jadon Sancho, Thorgan Hazard, Julian Brandt is doing a good job of compensating for the loss of injured team captain Marco Reus.

(XINHUA)

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Foreign ministers recommit to German-Russian cultural cooperation

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German Foreign Minister, Heiko Maas, and his Russian counterpart, Sergei Lavrov, on Monday recommitted their countries to closer cultural cooperation at the opening of an annual conference held online due to the coronavirus pandemic.

In a welcome speech read out online to mark the start of the 23rd Potsdam Meeting, a German-Russian discussion forum, Maas said he hoped the pandemic would help the two countries pursue a positive agenda.

“We should not draw back from our joint responsibility at this point.

“This year’s meeting will focus on the effects of the pandemic on foreign and security policy.

“The coronavirus pandemic will, in the immediate future, be one of the most important factors in developing joint approaches in foreign policy in the global economy to boost cooperation between countries,’’ Lavrov said.

He added that Germany and Russia would focus on the leading role of their countries in a rapidly changing world.

The Potsdam Meetings, set up by the German-Russian Forum in 1999, run parallel to the Petersburg Dialogue, established in 2001.

Report says the forums aim to promote understanding between German and Russian civil societies.

Edited By: Abiodun Oluleye (NAN)

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Germany reports more than 178,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19

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New infections with COVID-19 in Germany remained under last week’s average as the number of confirmed cases increased by 289 within one day to 178,570, the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) announced on Monday.

Over the course of last week, an average of 561 daily cases had been reported by the RKI, the federal government agency for disease control and prevention.

According to the institute, the death toll from COVID-19 in Germany increased by 10 to 8,257 on Monday, resulting in a fatality rate of the confirmed cases of 4.6 percent.

The estimated number of people in Germany who had already recovered from COVID-19 increased by around 800 within one day to 161,200 on Monday, according to the RKI. So the number of people currently infected with COVID-19 in Germany decreased and stood at 17,370.

On Saturday, German Chancellor Angela Merkel stressed that relaxations had to preserve the proportionality of the restrictions. She was very pleased “that the current infection situation makes it possible to allow and make possible many things again that had only been there to a limited extent for a few weeks.”

(XINHUA)

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German league second-tier clubside open stadium complex for school exams

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Second division Greuther Fuerth said on Sunday they are opening their stadium facilities for schools to hold their final exams there to adhere to social distancing rules amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The club said pupils from partner schools could write the exams in “class rooms’’ in the main stand area.

Several schools have said they would make use of the offer over the next weeks.

“We have heard from various schools that the measures currently required present challenges for them. We thought about how we can help.

“After we developed a hygiene concept and it was approved, we could now make this free offer, and it is nice to see that we can help some in this way,” managing director Holger Schwiewagner said.
OLAL

(
Edited By: Olawale Alabi) (NAN)

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Low turnout for German protests against coronavirus restrictions

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Far fewer people attended protests against coronavirus restrictions on Saturday in several German cities than organisers had initially expected.

Numbers were down at rallies in the capital Berlin, as well as in Stuttgart, Cologne, Munich, Frankfurt and Hanover, following several weeks in which swelling numbers had protested against restrictions to stem the pandemic.

Several dozen people attended a protest in Stuttgart, far fewer than the 500 registered and a sharp drop from 5,000 attendees the previous weekend.

But they might have another chance on Sunday, after a Saturday court ruling overturning a ban against the far-right Alternative for Germany party conducting its own rally in the city that day.

Meanwhile, in Berlin, celebrity TV chef, Attila Hildmann, was temporarily arrested on the way to a rally at the chancellery.

Hildmann was accused of violating coronavirus restrictions, a police spokeswoman said.

The chef, who is known for his vegan recipes, recently came to the attention of authorities in connection with the spread of coronavirus conspiracy theories, the Police said.

According to the Police, more than 100 people had gathered around Hildmann in Berlin’s Central Lustgarten Park.

The Police said it seemed as if he was planning to lead them in a march, something not currently permitted under Germany’s coronavirus restrictions.

Officers intervened and briefly arrested Hildmann, before releasing him again in time for him to address a rally of around 100 people, a dpa reporter at the scene said.

Hildmann said of his arrest that a crowd of people had formed around him once he was recognised.

Officers had then stopped the crowd moving and when he had asked about the legal basis for their actions, he had been “violently arrested’’.

The police did not comment.

Overall in the capital, around 1,100 police officers were deployed in preparation for what had been expected to be well-attended demonstrations and counter-demonstrations.

Yet only a handful of people attended a demonstration at the city’s central Victory Column, while another protest was abandoned by the organiser after 100 people turned up, twice as many as permitted, the Police said.

Elsewhere, in the northern city of Hamburg, the Police deployed a water cannon on the sidelines of a demonstration against the coronavirus restrictions attended by around 750 participants.

The Police said they had intervened to break up an unauthorised counterdemonstration of around 120 people who refused officers’ requests to disband.

Several Hamburg organisations had called for counterdemonstrations, as they said they expected radical far-right elements to attend the rally.

In the south, heavy rains and thunderstorms put a dampener on 60 separate rallies planned across the state of Bavaria.

In the state capital Munich, organisers called off at the last minute a demonstration they had expected to be attended by 1,000 people, due to the inclement weather.

In Nuremberg, only a handful of people braved the rain for the protest, far fewer than the 500 registered, the Police said.

A few hundred demonstrated in the western state of North Rhine-Westphalia, but here too police said numbers were far lower than expected.

Just 360 of the 1,000 registered participants attended a protest in the western city of Essen.

In Cologne, about 250 formed a human chain, about half those expected to attend.

The rallies largely went off without incident, the emergency services said.

Protests also took place in the central state of Hesse.

The Police counted several hundred participants at a demonstration in Frankfurt, while another 40 people attended a similar rally in Erfurt.

Rallies in Hanover and Bremen were attended by 130 and 170 people respectively, the Police said.

Many of the rallies were also met with small counterdemonstrations.

Thousands took to the streets last weekend in cities throughout Germany, protesting against coronavirus restrictions and what they argue are violations of constitutional rights.

Many also turned out for counterdemonstrations against conspiracy theories and against right-wing groups that the Police had warned could exploit the unrest.

There might be at least one protest on Sunday, following a court ruling overturning a ban against the far-right Alternative for Germany will push ahead with a separate rally in the city on Sunday.

AIB

Edited By: Abdulfatah Babatunde (NAN)

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Three quarters of Germans avoid cash payments during COVID-19 crisis

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Around 75 percent of people in Germany tried to avoid payments with cash “as much as possible” during the coronavirus crisis, according to a survey published by the digital association Bitkom on Friday.

Almost as many Germans, or 71 percent, would like more options for contactless payments, showed the survey sampled on more than 1,000 people aged 16 and over.

“There is hardly any other behavior pattern that has been changed by the coronavirus to the same extent as paying at the checkout,” said Bitkom President Achim Berg. Contactless payment by card or smartphone was “not only hygienic, but also fast and secure.”

The wish for more contactless payment options could be “observed across all generations,” Bitkom noted. More than three in four younger Germans wanted better cashless payment options, while 62 percent of senior Germans aged over 65 would like to see an improvement.

Burkhard Balz, a member of the executive board of Deutsche Bundesbank, Germany’s central bank, told the German editorial network (RND) in early May, that around 43 percent of Germans had changed their payment behavior at the checkout in recent weeks.

Of those German citizens who had changed their payment method, 68 percent had switched to more frequently using contactless payment by card, according to an online survey by Bundesbank.

(XINHUA)

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Germany remains committed to Open Skies treaty: Kramp-Karrenbauer

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German Minister of Defense Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer told the German broadcaster n-tv on Friday that her country will make an effort to salvage the international Open Skies treaty.

The U.S. administration revealed on Thursday its intention to withdraw from the Treaty on Open Skies, which allows its states-parties to conduct short-notice, unarmed reconnaissance flights over the others’ entire territories to collect data on military forces and activities.

“I deeply regret the U.S.’s announcement on abandonment of the treaty,” said Kramp-Karrenbauer, adding that in close coordination with Germany’s Foreign Office, “we will do everything we can to ensure that at the end of the day everyone will be able to stick with this contract.”

The Treaty on Open Skies, which aims at building confidence and familiarity among states-parties through their participation in the overflights, was concluded in 1992 and entered into force in 2002. Currently, 35 nations, including Russia, the United States, and some other members of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, have signed it. Kyrgyzstan has signed but not ratified it yet.

Germany’s Foreign Office stressed that the treaty “contributes to transparency and confidence-building and the cooperative security” of all 34 participating states.

According to the Foreign Office, the treaty created the “only arms control regime that covers the entire territory of both the U.S. and Russia.” Since its entry into force, over 1,500 reconnaissance flights have been conducted under the Open Skies treaty.

On Thursday, Germany’s Foreign Minister Heiko Maas also stressed that the treaty had contributed “to peace and security in almost all of the northern hemisphere,” and added that he understood that there had been difficulties. “However, from our point of view that does not justify withdrawing from the treaty.”

Together with its like-minded partners, Germany would use the remaining six months before the U.S. planned withdrawal to “encourage” the U.S. administration “to rethink its decision,” stressed Maas.

(XINHUA)

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Germany’s most recent mortality figures down to 3 pct above average: Destatis

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With around 18,000 deaths registered between April 20 and April 26, Germany’s most recent mortality figures were only three percent above the country’s average from past years, the German Federal Statistical Office (Destatis) said on Friday.

The data for the two previous weeks had still shown an excess mortality rate of nine percent and 13 percent, respectively. “Excess mortality” means that more people die at a specific time in the course of a year than would have been expected to die in view of the case numbers of previous years. Still, the current development of mortality would be “striking as this year’s influenza epidemic is deemed to be over since mid-March already,” Destatis noted.

“Usually, waves of influenza have an impact on mortality figures until mid-April,” Destatis noted. This would suggest that there was a “connection between the slight excess mortality currently observed and the coronavirus pandemic.”

However, the German ifo Institute for Economic Research pointed out that the number of people dying in Germany is currently at a level “similar to normal for this time of year” despite the coronavirus outbreak.

“Despite the slight upward trend in the mortality rates observed in April, the deviation still lies within a range that can be explained by random influences,” said Anna Kremer from the ifo Institute’s Dresden branch.

Even in older age groups that have been particularly at risk of COVID-19, “no higher mortality rates have been observed so far, the figures still fall within the range of statistical uncertainty,” the ifo Institute noted.

According to Destatis, excess mortality in Germany would be low compared with other European countries. Italy’s national statistical institute (Istat), for example, even reported 49 percent more deaths in March 2020 than in the years between 2015 and 2019.

(XINHUA)

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German health minister pushes for large-scale COVID-19 tests in hospitals, nursing homes

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Preventive COVID-19 tests should be carried out in hospitals and nursing homes in Germany on a large scale, German Minister of Health Jens Spahn said on Friday.

“My goal is to present a regulation before the end of May that will enable preventive serial tests in hospitals and nursing homes,” Spahn told the German newspaper Die Welt on Friday. “When patients and residents are hospitalized or transferred, SARS-CoV-2 (or novel coronavirus) testing should be the norm.”

In the case of an infection in a facility, all staff, residents and patients should also be tested as a precautionary measure. Even symptom-free contacts of infected persons should have the right to be tested, Spahn added.

In the past few weeks, the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) had repeatedly pointed out that COVID-19 related deaths in Germany were likely to increase further as there were severe outbreaks of the disease in hospitals and nursing homes.

The risk to the health of German population was still high or even very high for risk groups such as the elderly, the RKI stressed in its daily situation report for Thursday.

Last week, the German parliament passed a law enabling the Ministry of Health to oblige statutory health insurance companies to pay for coronavirus tests, even if a person would not have any symptoms.

This decree would enable tests to be carried out on a “wider scale than previously possible,” said the ministry.

“Last week, 425,000 tests were carried out throughout Germany. But the test capacity is more than twice as large,” stressed Spahn.

(XINHUA)

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Interview: COVID-19 crisis has limited impact in long term, says German expert

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Professor Michael Zuern, director at Berlin Social Sciences Center, believed that the ongoing coronavirus-triggered crisis has a limited long-term impact on the world, and the globalization will not end after the crisis.

“I do not expect that the crisis will change the general setups in society after it is over. We will return to many of the practices that were stable before,” said Zuern in an interview with Xinhua.

Zuern, who also works at the Free University of Berlin, said the ongoing crisis will lead only to an acceleration of some existing developments, for example, the digitalization of society and more state control of the medical industry in the near future.

Those developments, he said, have already appeared before the crisis and they will be strengthened in the short term after the crisis. But after the crisis, “we won’t see an end of globalization.” There is no question that there are alternatives to global production and supply chains. And a partial re-nationalization of business processes is possible.

However, this leads to increased costs and considerable welfare losses. “When normalcy returns, the enormous public and private debts will grow everywhere. We will be in a global recession. The cost pressure will then be particularly high,” he said.

“How to produce in the most efficient and cheapest way? In that situation, globalization will go back. That is the reason why it won’t end,” said Zuern.

Zuern said that mankind has certainly learned lessons from pandemics in history so that the health system has been built and people are more prepared. However, pandemic comes at a certain point that people cannot know in advance, not to mention that pandemics are based on different viruses.

Therefore, Zuern believed that after the pandemic people will be more careful in the way they approach each other, so that it will be fewer handshakes and kisses, and the health system may be better prepared for a crisis, but there is no way to prevent all crises.

“The virus will be controlled with vaccines, so mankind will return to normal again. But a new virus will come in an unknown form and at an unknown time.”

When it comes to politics, Zuern said the crisis did not make a change but accelerated some tendencies that have already emerged before the crisis, for instance, the growing difficulties to organize international cooperation and the change of the global balance of power in favor of China.

Regarding the future of global governance, one outcome of the crisis may turn out to be especially important. Populist governments have criticized global governance the most.

“In comparison, those countries with populist leaders perform the worst in handling the virus, thus possibly weakening the populist thoughts. That might be a positive change the coronavirus brings to the world,” said Zuern.

(XINHUA)

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German interior minister ‘disappointed’ over new EU Commission

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German Interior Minister Horst Seehofer has expressed disappointment over the performance of the new European Commission with particular reference to migration.
Seehofer said this in an interview with Der Spiegel news magazine published on Friday.
“I was full of hope on the new European Commission. Today I am, to put it mildly, disappointed.
“I’m expected to worry about the rescues at sea and about the children in refugee camps in Greece. I’m expected to concern myself with a joint asylum policy.
“But these are all tasks for the EU,’’ Seehofer said.
The new European Commission under former German Defence Minister Ursula von der Leyen took office in December.
Seehofer expressed further disillusionment at the fact that the drive for a European investment programme to alleviate the effects of the novel coronavirus pandemic had to come from Berlin and Paris, rather than Brussels.
The interior minister also showed little understanding for von der Leyen’s announcement of possible legal proceedings against Germany for breach of EU treaties.
With regard to the ruling at the beginning of May by the German Constitutional Court against government bond purchases by the European Central Bank (ECB).
“I’ve noticed that the EU raises treaty infringement proceedings and complaints against its member states unusually frequently.
“I would like to query how increased European unity is advanced by this means,’’ Seehofer said.

Edited By: Abiodun Oluleye/Isaac Aregbesola (NAN)

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German gov’t advisors propose economic stimulus package amid COVID-19 crisis

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The German Council of Economic Experts (GCEE) announced on Friday that it has proposed an economic stimulus package that would support structural change in the country during the coronavirus pandemic.

The government should refrain from introducing a large number of sector-specific measures, such as a purchase premium for vehicles, which is currently being discussed in Germany, the experts wrote in an article for the German newspaper Sueddeutsche Zeitung on Friday.

Instead, GCEE suggested three measures “to support economic recovery and accompany structural change” in Germany, including more possibilities for tax loss carryback and carryforward.

This measure would provide companies with “direct, short-term liquidity” and increase the incentive to invest today, according to GCEE, which was established in the 1960s and is an academic body that advises the German government on economic policy issues.

Furthermore, a “quick and comprehensive reform of energy prices” in Germany would provide noticeable relief for households and businesses alike, the experts noted.

Due to the regressive effect of energy taxes, this would increase the disposable income of low-income households in particular. In addition, a lower electricity price would support the transformation towards a more climate-friendly energy system, according to the experts.

Thirdly, GCEE proposed to promote private and public investments in education, public transport and the expansion of digitization in Germany.

Through digital education and training, German companies and employees could use the additional available time caused by short-time work and unemployment during the current COVID-19 crisis to develop new skills and prepare for the post-recession period, said the experts.

Last week, the German Federal Statistical Office (Destatis) announced that the country’s gross domestic product (GDP) in the first quarter of 2020 had declined by 2.2 percent compared to the previous quarter.

The GCEE experts expected that the coronavirus crisis would cause a “historically large slump” in German economic output in the first half of 2020. Despite financial aid by the government, many companies were still endangered by insolvency.

(XINHUA)

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