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German government backs off unpopular teen sex law: report

The German government is likely to back off a proposal for a new sex crimes law that some experts said could have criminalized normal teenage dating, according to a newspaper report on Tuesday.

German government backs off unpopular teen sex law: report
Photo: DPA

German Minister of Justice Brigitte Zypries, a Social Democrat, agreed to revisions after meeting with legal experts from Germany’s ruling parliamentary coalition of Social Democrats (SPD) and Christian Democrats (CDU), the newspaper Neue Osnabrücker Zeitung reported.

Parliament was reacting to criticism from legal experts and sex researchers who said the law could have put normal teenage sexual behaviour into a legal grey area.

Under the original proposal teenagers between 14 and 17 years old could have faced charges for using money or other something else of value to encourage sexual contact from another minor. A previous law had only applied to adults over 18 years of age.

Though the revised proposal will still apply to teenagers, CDU legal spokesman Jürgen Gehb told the newspaper it would only apply when a suspect intentionally takes advantage of a victim’s financial situation in order to get sex.

Critics said the original rule could have left teens facing charges after making out on a movie date.

POLITICS

EU ministers urge unity after Germany’s energy ‘bazooka’

EU finance ministers on Monday pleaded for unity after Germany announced a €200 billion plan to help German households and businesses pay for high energy prices, amid accusations that the EU's biggest economy was acting alone.

EU ministers urge unity after Germany's energy 'bazooka'

Europe is struggling with historically high energy prices as it faces an early autumn cold snap and a coming winter almost certainly to be endured without crucial Russian gas supplies because of the war in Ukraine.

Many EU countries have announced national programmes to shield consumers from the high prices. But Germany went the furthest on Friday when it announced its mammoth plan, which will see help pouring to Germans for two years.

Arriving to talk with his eurozone counterparts, German Finance Minister Christian Lindner insisted the spending was “proportionate” to the size of Germany’s economy and said his goal was to use as little of the money as possible.

READ ALSO: Germany to spend €200 billion to cap soaring energy costs

But Germany’s largesse rankled several EU capitals, some of which feared their industries could take severe blows while Germany’s sits protected, deforming the EU’s single market.

Outgoing Italian prime minister Mario Draghi has slammed Berlin for its lack of solidarity and coordination with EU partners.

French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire, without directly criticizing Berlin, called on partners to agree a common strategy against the price shock and for countries to refrain from going it alone.

“The more this strategy is coordinated, united, the better it is for all of us,” he said.

Risk to ‘European unity’

Others pointed to the unprecedented solidarity shown in the Covid-19 crisis in which the 27 EU nations, against all expectations, approved a jointly financed €750 billion recovery plan.

“Solidarity is not only on the German shoulders, I think this is something that we have to deliver at European level,” said EU economics affairs commissioner Paolo Gentiloni.

“We have very good examples from the previous crisis on how solidarity can react to a crisis and also reassure financial markets. I think that this is our goal,” he said.

While a Covid-style recovery plan is not in the cards for now, Le Maire said €200 billion in loans and €20 billion in aid should be devoted to REPowerEU, a programme to help countries break their dependence on Russian gas.

READ ALSO: Will Germany set a gas price cap – and how would it work?

Bruegel, a highly influential think tank in Brussels, called the German plan a spending “bazooka” that many EU countries were unable to match, creating a potential source of animosity.

“If the German gas price brake gives German business a much better chance to survive the crisis than, say, Italian business, economic divergences in the EU could be deepened, and European unity on Russia undermined,” it said in a blog.

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