Tiefensee says aid to former communist east ‘urgent’

Eighteen years after German reunification, the eastern states still depend on financial support from the federal government, Transportation Minister Wolfgang Tiefensee told broadcaster ZDF on Wednesday morning.

Tiefensee says aid to former communist east 'urgent'
New construction at Leipzig University. Photo: DPA

States once belonging to the German Democratic Republic (GDR) suffer from “structural weaknesses across the board,” Tiefensee said, adding that financial help from the Solidarpakt II initiative continues to be “urgently necessary.”

Solidarpakt II is meant to bring the formerly communist part of Germany onto equal footing with the rest of the country via an aid package of €156.5 billion. But an extension of the initiative after 2019 won’t be necessary, he said, because the success of certain industrial centres in the east has show that cities can recover over time.

Problems in reconstruction efforts include unstable regional economies, unemployment and ailing research and development projects, Tiefensee said. These problems will cause the eastern regions of the country to lose between 25 and 30 percent of their population in the next few years he told ZDF, despite small pockets that have been successful in building booming infrastructure, environment, health and education projects.