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POLITICS

MPs plan pause for run-in with USA

German MPs will stop work to watch their team's World Cup clash against USA on Thursday night - to avoid any controversial bills being passed by a few stragglers in parliament.

MPs plan pause for run-in with USA
German Defence Minister Ursula von der Leyen celebrates Germany's 4-0 win against Portugal on June 16th. Photo: DPA

"We will stop proceedings in good time before the start of the game," said SPD fraction head Thomas Oppermann on Monday night, referring to Thursday's match scheduled to start at 6pm.

The idea is to avoid a repeat of the scandal two years ago, when during Germany's Euro 2012 semi-final match against Italy an almost-empty parliament session passed a hugely unpopular bill allowing authorities to sell citizens' address details to businesses.  

Much time and effort was wasted going back and changing the law again afterwards, when it was shown to be incompatible with Germany's strict data protection laws.  

Meanwhile, both the German coach Joachim Löw and German-born USA coach Jürgen Klinsmann have insisted they will only be playing to win after facing repeated questions about whether the old friends may have struck a deal ahead of Thursday's face-off.

The United States' 2-2 draw with Portugal in Group G on Sunday has left Klinsmann's side level on four points with Germany heading into their final group game.

A draw in Thursday's match in Recife would see Germany qualify as group winners with the United States finishing runners up – leaving Ghana and Portugal in limbo regardless of their result the same day.

That scenario has brought back memories of the notorious 1982 group match in Gijon, Spain, between West Germany and Austria. Almost exactly 32 years ago to the day, both teams qualified at the expense of Algeria after a mutually beneficial 1-0 German victory in which both sides went through the motions.

Current German head coach Joachim Löw was Klinsmann's assistant when Germany finished third at the 2006 World Cup and journalists questioned whether the old friends had struck a deal.

Germany's assistant coach Hansi Flick and defender Mats Hummels strongly denied there would be any repeat of the 1982 fiasco after being repeatedly posed the question.

"I can only say a concrete 'no', we've already said we want to win the game and that's how we'll play over 90 minutes," insisted Flick in Monday's press conference.

And Hummels said the Germans had no interest in anything other than a victory. "It would be unsportsmanlike to do that and not fair, besides we want to win the game," said the centre-back. "We're not playing for any result other than a victory."

Klinsmann echoed his compatriots by insisting there is no chance of similar skulduggery from 1982 – dubbed the 'Disgrace of Gijon' – tarnishing Thursday's match.

"You're talking about a game that is decades ago," Klinsmann said. "That is only a part of Germany's history and not part of the United States' history. I think if you look at the past of the US team, we always try to make things happen.

"We will go to Recife and we will give everything to beat Germany. That is our goal."

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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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