FIRST, SOME SOLID INTEL:
Tracking Apps: Sacrificing privacy for health?
Apps, Apps, Apps. …but, isn’t the use of an app to trace infections the opposite of the brand new and highest standard data protection law? EU Justice Commissioner Reynders says: Maybe, not necessarily, depends. To achieve a viable non-totalitarian path, the EU and Germany want to follow the approach of “Pan-European Privacy-Preserving Proximity Tracing”, which only collects data relevant to anonymously trace contacts of an individual for three weeks without gathering movement profiles. Using this app has to be voluntary. All companies or individuals, already developing tracing software, are urged by the federal government to use the chosen technology to ensure different apps are compatible. Still, critics in Belgium and the Netherlands are raising their voices and demanding a discussion and public discourse on the matter, slowing things down in a time where there is no or little time. However, if the EU was able to avoid a regulatory jumble, this might turn out to be the biggest success story of digitalization in Europe so far.
Goodbye to the Single Market, Hello to Socialism?
The EU Finance Ministers are discussing the possibility of the nationalization of companies. Following the Financial as well as the Euro Crisis, there was a wave of foreign absorptions of European companies. Money flowing in from China and the USA took over some of Europe’s very competitive companies or promising startups. “This is to be prevented”, here is the part where all the EU Finance Ministers sing from the same hymn sheet. However, when it is discussed how to best achieve this, there seems to be no complete unity. Mainly because there is one huge problem. Nationalization in Europe means threatening the Single Market. And when Germany pulls out the bazooka of liquidity to save its companies (like Finance Minister and Vice Chancellor Olaf Scholz likes to call it), countries like Italy or Spain might only have a bow and arrow. This will most likely cause disbalances in the Single Market. When saving a company against foreign takeovers there is always a risk of making it too competitive against companies of our neighboring states. The instruments of socialism are limited in a world of social market economy. Ironically Germany, being socialist and supportive of their companies, could leave the rest of Europe broke, frustrated and in need of German equity or involvement.
The Slowxit – What is allowed in Germany as of today
Germany is loosening some of its restrictive measures. In case you are still wondering, what the biggest priority in Germany is, Corona will give you an answer: CARS! While retailers (besides grocery stores) are only allowed to reopen today if their sales area is less than 800 square meters, Autohäuser (transl. car dealerships) can reopen irrespective of size. Germans are getting back their most prized possession and the Germany’s flagship industry is happy – for now. However, federalism makes all things a bit more complicated. The basic rules (800 square meters, car dealerships, other retailers etc.) are interpreted differently in the different German States and also the starting dates vary and might actually cause competitive distortions across Germany. Concerning face masks, the States are also at strife. While the Federal Government refuses to mandate the use, some States do so in public transport, cabs or stores for instance. Most of the other restrictions will remain in place. What will be interesting in the coming days, is the discussion on whether, and predominantly when, religious services will be allowed to take place again. A very complicated discussion, since it is a fundamental right which is restricted at the moment. On Easter, this discussion even made it to the Federal Institution Court, which decided in a speedy trial that the current restrictions by the Federal Government would be legal, however, will need to be continuously assessed.
For an outlook on the latest Corona draft bills in Germany and an update on Corona-bonds, check out the PDF:
WHAT’S ON OUR MINDS TODAY:
One thing Corona clearly has not brought to its knees is: Politics. Like, who’s gonna be CDU’s candidate for chancellor following Angela Merkel? And who’s gonna succeed Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer as CDU party chair?
Decisions that should have been made at an extraordinary party congress planned for April, but, well …
Corona has not only prevented that from happening but very much put a halt to the internal race, taking away the stage from some candidates like Friedrich Merz (very promising) and Norbert Röttgen (less so), while pushing into the spotlight Jens Spahn, our Federal Minister of Health, who withdrew his candidature to support Armin Laschet, Prime Minister in the State Nordrhine-Westfalia.
So, here’s the new revised plan: Electing a new party chair and MAAAAYBE a chancellor candidate at the regular party congress in autumn, depending on how things will play out. The latter of course not without the approval of the sister party CSU from Bavaria and its party chair as well as Bavaria’s Prime Minister Markus Söder. And that’s not a given, taking into account his own (undeclared and denied, but who is he kidding) ambitions in regard to the chancellorship (yep, another candidate’s coming up…)
So, what the assortment will look like in the end will very much depend on how Germany deals with the crisis and the people responsible will handle things. If things continue as they have been to date, even another Merkel term seems possible, maaaaybe. At least her approval ratings are going through the roof.
But that’s to be seen. Until then Merkel’s succession, as well as the economy, is on hold.