• Germany's news in English
 
app_header_v3

Ten things to look out for in 2014

The Local · 31 Dec 2013, 11:44

Published: 31 Dec 2013 11:44 GMT+01:00

1) Relations with Big Brother

Next year could prove a crucial one in Germany's relations with the United States. As fall-out from the NSA spying scandal continues to land, the German government is likely to come under great pressure to defend its people's internet security from American eyes and ears.

It could also prove to be a crucial year for the continuing trade talks between the European Union and the US. These were largely felt to be fairly uninteresting until it emerged that they could include the provision for corporations to sue governments for loss of business due to national regulations. Critics say this provision would undermine democracy in favour of big businesses, while festooned with false promises of job creation.

2) How to mark World War I

The centenary of World War I will be marked across Europe and the world from 2014 onwards. History students learn that Germany's defeat, its unsteady embrace of republicanism and democracy, and the harsh conditions imposed by the victorious Allies set the country on the path to fascism and the world on the route to World War II.

The government has not yet revealed its programme of events, and they are unlikely to be as bombastic as those planned in the UK and France, but academic institutions have already launched cooperative research projects with counterparts in other countries.

3) Berlin, we have a problem

The continuing disaster that is Berlin's yet-to-be-completed new international airport BER is likely to delight Schadenfreude connoisseurs through 2014 and probably beyond. The airport is already years late and managers have seen the original budget treble to reach nearly €6 billion.

This September the technical director of the project drew up a list of more than 66,000 problems with the enormous airport - nearly 6,000 of these were considered critical in a report. An already much-revised opening date of June 2012 was embarrassingly cancelled at very short notice. It is now supposed to be partly opened in 2014 but judging on past form, we wouldn't bet a cent on it.

4) Can the Liberals survive?

Could Germany lose one of its most illustrious political parties in 2014? The Free Democrats (FDP) failed to get the five percent of votes in the federal election in 2013 needed to enter parliament.

This was a suitable ending to a terrible few years during which, although the party was junior member of the governing coalition, its popularity ratings could barely get any lower. The FDP is currently coalition partner with the Christian Democratic Union in Saxony, where state elections must be held in 2014 - a wipe-out here could be the last nail in the party's coffin.

5) Justice for neo-Nazi victims?

This year should see the end of the trial of Beate Zschäpe and others accused of being involved in the gang of neo-Nazi terrorists responsible for nine racially motivated killings and the shooting to death of a policewoman.

Evidence which has been used in the trial has shone a spotlight on institutional racism within the police and other security forces in the country.

No matter what the outcome of the trial, its end will provoke a strong debate in Germany about what to do about the existence of neo-Nazis in society.

With any luck attention will also be diverted to ridding the authorities of racists and far right-wingers of the sort who were uninterested in solving the violent deaths of people because their skin was brown and their hair black.

6) Will Jogi's boys end 23 years of hurt?

Germany will fly to the World Cup in Brazil more confident of its chances of winning than at any time since the country was last crowned champions in 1990.

A poll in December showed 55 percent of Germans think Die Mannschaft can bring the cup home. They have good reason for confidence. The team is packed with young superstars and is so well equipped in attack that one of coach Joachim Löw's biggest challenges will be working out where to fit everybody in.

But Germany has fallen short in recent tournaments losing to Spain and Italy - the two teams they fear the most.

7) Merkel's grand coalition

Once bitten, twice shy, the Social Democrats (SPD) are likely to prove trickier coalition partners for Merkel than in her first partnership with them from 2005 to 2009. In that coalition they were overshadowed by Merkel and will be kicking harder and screaming louder this time for their policies.

The main arguments within the coalition government will be between Merkel's Bavarian allies, the Christian Social Union (CSU) and the SPD's more left of centre figures.

CSU leader Horst Seehofer has already upset SPD ministers with his call for restrictions on Bulgarians and Romanians coming to Germany. Seehofer has also questioned the SPD's flagship policy of introducing a nationwide minimum wage. Merkel will have to find a way to please both the left and right flanks of her coalition while continuing to push through big projects such as the switch to renewable energy sources - the Energiewende. 

Story continues below…

8) European headaches 

Elections to the European Parliament in May are shaping up to be an unusually exciting affair. With the march of rightwing and anti-EU parties across the continent, Merkel will have to counter the threat from Germany's first eurosceptic party, Alternative fur Deutschland (AfD), while staying on good terms with her centre-left coalition partners, the SPD.

Expect the AfD to get into the EU parliament. They missed out on getting seats in Germany's parliament by 0.3 percent of the vote in September's national elections. Since then they have been continued to poll at around four to five percent and in the EU elections they will be campaigning on their pet issue. 

Apart from the elections, there will also be plenty of talk about a banking union, Greece and Germany's relationship with France. 

9) Military matters

German troops will be among the thousands of NATO forces withdrawing from Afghanistan in 2014 after more than a decade of conflict. The intervention has been unpopular in Germany and has done nothing to suggest that the country has become more willing to send troops into foreign war zones. All eyes will also be on Germany's new defence minister Ursula von der Leyen. The mother-of-seven has been tipped as a successor to Merkel in 2017 and if she can survive in the normally scandal-hit post of defence minister she will emerge as a front runner to be the country's next chancellor. 

10) German growth?

The German economy may be performing well but it is under fire from both the US and EU for building up a huge trade surplus. Analysts are predicting unspectacular GDP growth of around 1.3 percent for 2014. Industrial output is also expected to increase. Also on the economic front, investors will also be hoping the DAX continues its record run. It has passed 9,500 points and rose by more than a quarter in 2013. 

For more news from Germany, join us on Facebook and Twitter.

The Local (news@thelocal.de)

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
What's on in Germany: July 2016
Berlin Pride celebrations. Photo: DPA

Beer, beach and the BMX - here's what's coming up in Germany this month.

Brexit vote
'Over 100,000 Brits' flood Berlin job site after Brexit vote
"Searching for job." Photo: DPA.

A German job-hunting website reported getting four times the amount of traffic from the UK that it normally does in the wake of the Brexit vote.

Man who stabbed Cologne mayor gets 14 years jail
Photo: DPA

The man who almost killed Cologne Mayor Henriette Reker when he stabbed her in the neck was sentenced to 14 years in jail on Friday.

Germany ups Turkey travel advisory after Istanbul attack
Berliners at the Brandenburg Gate mourn the victims of the Istanburl airport attack. Photo: DPA.

Germany on Friday warned its citizens to exercise particular caution if they travel to Turkey, following this week's deadly Istanbul airport attack.

Young Muslim takes on state on headscarf ban and wins
Aqilah Sandhu in court on Thursday. Photo: DPA

A 25-year-old lawyer has taken on the state of Bavaria over its attempts to stop her from wearing a headscarf - and scored a major victory.

Video
WATCH: Comic teaches about Ramadan on flying carpet
Photo: Screenshot from Dattelträger video.

A young comedian hopes his flying carpet stunt can help fight back against stereotypes - by becoming one.

Brexit vote
'It won't be romantic. But I need an EU passport'
Lucy Thomas (left), director at Give Something Back to Berlin. Photo: Private

British expats in Berlin tell The Local that a week after the Brexit vote they are still stunned - and are considering their next steps.

Town ravaged by floods tries to pick up the pieces
Rebuilding in Simbach. Photo: DPA

July 2nd should have been the start of a new life for Anna Kluchan and her husband. But then the floods came.

Lufthansa finally buries hatchet with cabin staff
Photo: DPA

Lufthansa and its cabin staff said Thursday they had reached an agreement on working conditions, bringing to an end a long and bitter industrial dispute that hit thousands of passengers.

Six burning questions for British expats about Brexit
Photo: DPA.

Uncertainty has kicked in over Brexit and what it may mean for Brits living in Germany.

Sponsored Article
Avoid hidden fees when sending money overseas
National
How to get German citizenship (or just stay forever)
Sponsored Article
Why you should attend an international job fair
Technology
Brexit will turn Berlin into 'Europe’s startup capital'
International
'Germany needs to make UK come to its senses'
Sponsored Article
Education abroad: How to find an international school
Features
Six odd things Germans do in the summer
Sponsored Article
Health insurance for expats in Germany: a quick guide
Travel
These 10 little-known German towns are a must see
Features
How two gay dads cut through German red tape to start a family
National
Five things to know about guns in Germany
Sponsored Article
US expats: Taxes are due June 15th
Culture
10 things you need to know before attending a German wedding
National
Eight weird habits you'll pick up living in Germany
Lifestyle
Six reasons 'super-cool' Berlin isn't all it's cracked up to be
Society
Only one country likes getting naked on the beach more than Germany
Lifestyle
23 ridiculously fascinating things you never knew about Berlin
Culture
8 German words that perfectly sum up your 20s
Lifestyle
Can't make it past the door at Berlin's most famous club? Help is at hand
Business & Money
Why Frankfurt could steal London's crown as Europe's finance capital
Features
6 surprising things I learned about Germany while editing The Local
Culture
Five sure-fire ways to impress Germans with your manners
Features
6 reasons Germany's summer is unbeatable for thrill-seekers
National
The future belongs to these 10 German regions
7,879
jobs available
Toytown Germany
Germany's English-speaking crowd