The German European: how Ursula von der Leyen rose to become EU president - New StatesmanTuesday, August 20, 2019
Chancellor Angela Merkel, for one, is a fan. Merkel brought von der Leyen into her first cabinet in 2005, just two years after the latter became a minister in the state of Lower Saxony. In fact, for a while Merkel appeared to be grooming von der Leyen as her successor. (Merkel’s actual chosen successor and CDU party leader, Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer, will take over at the defence ministry.)
But von der Leyen never truly had enough allies in her own party to succeed Merkel in the Chancellery, perhaps because she was always something of an outsider, personally and ideologically. She joined the CDU at the relatively late age of 32 and spent years working as a doctor and taking care of her family before her rapid rise as a member of Merkel’s team.
That’s not to say von der Leyen is especially popular with Germany’s other major parties. All of the Social Democratic MEPs broke with their European colleagues to reject von der Leyen in the confirmation vote. The German SPD even distributed a letter in Brussels stating that she was an “inadequate and inappropriate candidate”. The Greens in Europe — the party is surging in Germany and could take over the Chancellery at the next election — also whipped to vote against von der Leyen, though their opposition is not all personal, but rather due to the fact that she is not a Spitzenkandidat (the lead candidate put forward by each parliamentary bloc in the European elections).
The German public are not fans either. According to the most recent SPON poll, 68 per cent are unsatisfied with her work as defence minister. Defence minister is a tough job, but that’s a strikingly poor number.
Nevertheless, many Germans are pleased that one of their countrymen — or rather women — will head the European Commission for the first time in 50 years. Putting a German face on the EU could improve the Commission’s messaging towards Europe’s biggest member state.
Berlin moves to greatly reduce ‘solidarity tax’ for eastern Germany - EuronewsTuesday, August 20, 2019
The bill, proposed by the finance minister from Angela Merkel’s CDU party, has been encouraged with support from the CDU’s coalition partner the SPD.The Prime Minister of Lower Saxony, Stephan Weil, said: "It is absolutely time to noticeably reduce the burden on small and medium incomes by abolishing the solidarity surcharge."Weil also thinks it's good that 10% of Germans should continue to pay the solidarity surcharge. "Nobody would understand, however, if the highest incomes in Germany were now to be rewarded with tax gifts totalling around eleven billion euros. We'd better invest this money in education and climate protection."Thorsten Schäfer-Gümbel, parliamentary party and state leader of the SPD in Hesse, also supports Scholz.What is the Soli tax?The solidarity surcharge was introduced in 1991, to help reconstruction of the east following the reunification of Germany in the wake of the fall of the Berlin Wall.The tax was originally supposed to be in place only for a limited time but became permanent in 1995.Initially, the solidarity rate was 7.5%, but since 1995 it has been 5.5%. In addition, the surcharge has been unlimited since 1995.Contrary to some assumptions, taxpayers in the west and east have to pay the tax.According to the Ministry of Finance, in 2018 the German state received €18.9 billion as a result.Criticism of the billAccording to the Ministry of Finance, single people with an annual gross income of up to €73,874 would not have to pay anything. From €109,451 gross annual wages, the full supplement would have to be paid.Accordingly, a family with two children and an annual income of €221,375 or more...https://www.euronews.com/2019/08/13/berlin-moves-to-greatly-reduce-solidarity-tax-for-eastern-germany
Germany’s Landesbanken still seeking clean bill of health - Financial TimesTuesday, April 23, 2019
One public sector bank yet to be given a clean bill of health is Hanover-based NordLB, a lender with €160bn in assets majority-owned by the German states of Lower Saxony and Saxony-Anhalt with regional Sparkassen holding a minority stake of 35 per cent.The bank, weighed down by a vast portfolio of non-performing shipping loans, expects that it will be singled out as the weakest link in Germany’s banking system in the European Banking Authority’s stress test on Friday. “That would not be a surprise,” NordLB told the Financial Times. The lender has started to woo new investors in an attempt to raise fresh capital of about €3.5bn, with the state of Lower-Saxony standing ready to pitch in taxpayers’ money alongside external investors. Six potential bidders are conducting due diligence and have until November 28 to decide if they will table a binding offer. Among the suitors is Landesbank peer Helaba, as well as listed rival Commerzbank, private equity funds Cerberus and three other PE investors, said a person familiar with the process. “I am glad that we have different options and am open for several different scenarios,” Lower Saxony’s finance minister Reinhold Hilbers told the FT, adding that a deal with a different Landesbank as well as one with private investors was on the ca...https://www.ft.com/content/d7d380cc-dcdb-11e8-9f04-38d397e6661c
Suspect in Bulgarian journalist slaying arrested in GermanyWednesday, October 17, 2018
Bulgaria's prosecutor general, Sotir Tsatsarov, confirmed the arrest of Severin Krassimirov, a 21-year-old Bulgarian citizen.
Prosecutors in the northwestern German state of Lower Saxony said the suspect was arrested Tuesday evening outside the city of Hamburg on a European arrest warrant. Prosecutors will examine whether he can be extradited and apply to have him held in formal custody.
Bulgarian Interior Minister MladenMarinov said investigators had found DNA evidence on the clothes and body of Viktoria Marinova, who was raped and strangled on Saturday in the northern town of Ruse.
Bulgarian media reported that Krassimirov's mother lives in Germany. The Interior Ministry said that he left Bulgaria early Saturday afternoon, crossing the bridge at Ruse over the Danube into Romania.
There is physical evidence to link to the murder,Marinov said. He said Krassimirov, a resident of Ruse, had a criminal record for scrap metal theft.
The minister said investigators had spoken to Marinova's family and friends and there is no apparent link to her work. Tsatsarov said the evidence suggested it was a spontaneous attack, not premeditated.
However, he added that investigators were examining all possible lines of investigation.
Prime Minister Boyko Borissov offered condolences to her family and thanked investigators for their work.
However, he said he would withdraw his support for a German member of the European Parliament, Manfred Weber, a leading candidate to become the next head of the European Commission, because of tweets he made associating the death of Marinova with those of Maltese journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia and Slovak journalist Jan Kuci...https://www.ctvnews.ca/world/suspect-in-bulgarian-journalist-slaying-arrested-in-germany-1.4127762