FIRST, SOME SOLID INTEL:
EU: “Germany, give us your money!”
While it seems like an overall agreement on the EU recovery fund might be reached soon (we reported about it several times), discussions about the EU budget are ongoing. The budget has a time horizon of seven years and is the basis for any spending activities in the EU. Now, as the UK is no longer an EU member, it was clear that Germany’s contributions would need to increase, and with the outbreak of Corona, it was clear contributions would increase a bit more than initially envisioned. Now, after seeing the new budget proposal by the EU Commission (which still lacks some details), the Federal Government in Germany pulled out its calculators and crunched some numbers. The result: an increase in contributions of 42% over the next years. So far, Germany contributes €31 billion to the annual budget, from 2021 onward it shall be around €44 billion – quite an “ambitious” increase. The EU-friendly opposition in Germany sees a need of Germany to take over financial responsibility but demands for a modernization of the budget spending: more for digitalization, research, the Erasmus program (as in: EU paying students to go other EU countries to study, fall in love and grow in diversity) and external border and climate protection.
EU: Competition rules hitting the Big 4?
By the end of the year, the Commission will present a new competitiion tool that is “fit for the digital age”. The Danish EU Commissioner Margrethe Vestager responsible for this, might be one of the very few people on earth feared by CEOs of big US companies. However, if you are working for the “Big 4”, you should better have a look at the EU Parliament right now: This week, the parliament’s own initiative report on competition policy was voted on in plenary (basically, this is a document by the Parliament asking the Commission to draft legislation, often used by ambitious members to show their skills and equally, often happily, ignored). The Parliament added an amendment to the report that (if not ignored for once) would essentially force companies like KPMG to split up their auditing and their consulting services and introduce a mandatory joint audit. What is particularly interesting here is the background:Only the extreme right voted against the corresponding amendment – meaning that all the others voted in favor of tougher rules for the Big 4. This ultimately raises the question: Who is driving this attitude change in Parliament? And is this a development that could also have ramifications for other major players in the long run…? Ping us for more.
Digital travel preparations
As we reported, the internal EU borders are open again and while the credo is still “Try to avoid unnecessary travels”, the EU is generally interested in supporting its own tourism industry again. To facilitate what for most people are well-deserved holidays after the last months of hardship, the EU Commission published a website under the felicitous domain “reopen.europe.eu”, designed to help its citizens plan their holidays in another European country. The idea is simple: By clicking on a map of the EU, the user can view country-specific information such as travel restrictions within the country, air travel restrictions into the country, and whether or not travelers need to present a negative Corona test to enter the country. All information bundled in one place and processed with a clear design – not an easy task but needed in times of hourly updates with anything Corona-related. The only thing missing so far: broader promotion of this extremely useful tool.
For ANOTHER Brexit Update (yes, we know: ?), developments about a unified patent court and plans on lobbying transparency in Brussels, check out the PDF:
LONG STORY SHORT:
- Germany has its own Corona-Tracing-App, published last week. Took a bit longer but has allegedly the HIGHEST data protection standards.
- Hydrogen will become the next big thing, according to a strategy by Federal Minister of Economy, Peter Altmaier.
- Germany invested 300 Million Euros into Curevac, one of the most promising companies developing a Corona vaccine, in exchange for a 23% stake.
WHAT’S ON OUR MINDS
More than just troops.
After WWII, my grandparents lived in Heidelberg, headquarters of US-troops and later NATO in Europe. The city is also home to Germany’s oldest university, and for some time even hosted Elvis Presley as a G.I.
US-soldiers in the “American-Zone” were known to be very kind and generous. All her life, my Grandma remembered every G.I. that put chocolate into my mom’s buggy and she made a living translating and operating phone calls, she looked just like Mrs. Maisel!
The survival of my own and many other families, as well as the establishment of German democracy itself was only possible with the protection of the US-Military. There were once up to 400,000 US troops stationed in Germany. Today, there are around 50,000 troops, with Donald Trump announcing a possible reduction to 25,000. Given this history, I cannot see this as a political move by Trump that needs to be opposed with economic or NATO-strategic arguments. So maybe this is just the time for Europe to move towards a united EU-Army within NATO. But today, I am humbled by the values each and every troop member has stood for during all those years of peace, with their sacrifice and service. Whatever the outcome will be, I just want to say: Thank you so incredibly much!