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FRANKFURT

Bavaria and Hesse want to pay other states less

New figures on how much Germany's 16 federal states give or receive from a fund meant to narrow fiscal gaps between them could encourage main contributors Bavaria and Hesse to mount a legal challenge, it emerged on Tuesday.

Bavaria and Hesse want to pay other states less
Photo: DPA

For the first time since Germany unified, information has been released about money going in and coming out of the so-called Länderfinanzausgleich, a pot which was set up for richer states to help poorer ones.

Since 1990, Bavaria, Hesse, Baden-Württemberg, and Hamburg have paid in €128 billion to the fund. As did North Rhine-Westphalia until 2010, when it stopped due to financial woes, daily newspaper the Süddeutsche Zeitung reported on Tuesday.

Hesse, which has paid in €38.465 billion over the period, gives the most to the Länderfinanzausgleich. Bavaria gives around two billion less, and Baden-Württemberg three billion less. Hamburg has given €5.2 billion.

But the government making the exact amounts public has now, the paper said, has given Bavaria and Hesse the argument they have long been searching for to pay less money into the fund.

Both states have long claimed that some of the “poorer” states not paying into the fund now have more money per resident than they do, thanks in part to the Länderfinanzausgleich. They are expected to begin filing a legal complaint to the Constitutional Court against the mechanism by February.

With €45 billion from the fund under its belt, the city-state of Berlin has received the most. The eastern German state of Saxony came in second after getting €17 billion from the pot since 1990, and Saxony-Anhalt received €10 billion. The northern state of Schleswig-Holstein profited the least, having received €2.4 billion.

The Local/jcw

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MUNICH

Four injured as WWII bomb explodes near Munich train station

Four people were injured, one of them seriously, when a World War II bomb exploded at a building site near Munich's main train station on Wednesday, emergency services said.

Smoke rises after the WWII bomb exploded on a building site in Munich.
Smoke rises after the WWII bomb exploded on a building site in Munich. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Privat

Construction workers had been drilling into the ground when the bomb exploded, a spokesman for the fire department said in a statement.

The blast was heard several kilometres away and scattered debris hundreds of metres, according to local media reports.

Images showed a plume of smoke rising directly next to the train tracks.

Bavaria interior minister Joachim Herrmann told Bild that the whole area was being searched.

Deutsche Bahn suspended its services on the affected lines in the afternoon.

Although trains started up again from 3pm, the rail operator said there would still be delays and cancellations to long-distance and local travel in the Munich area until evening. 

According to the fire service, the explosion happened near a bridge that must be passed by all trains travelling to or from the station.

The exact cause of the explosion is unclear, police said. So far, there are no indications of a criminal act.

WWII bombs are common in Germany

Some 75 years after the war, Germany remains littered with unexploded ordnance, often uncovered during construction work.

READ ALSO: What you need to know about WWII bomb disposals in Germany

However, most bombs are defused by experts before they explode.

Last year, seven World War II bombs were found on the future location of Tesla’s first European factory, just outside Berlin.

Sizeable bombs were also defused in Cologne and Dortmund last year.

In 2017, the discovery of a 1.4-tonne bomb in Frankfurt prompted the evacuation of 65,000 people — the largest such operation since the end of the war in Europe in 1945.

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