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Everything that changes in Germany in February 2019

Rachel Stern
Rachel Stern - [email protected] • 31 Jan, 2019 Updated Thu 31 Jan 2019 17:54 CEST
Everything that changes in Germany in February 2019

From higher taxes to healthier products, we look at what changes when January becomes February on Friday.


What the app?
Whatsapp is particular popular in Germany, but it will most likely lose some users due to a controversial innovation. While WhatsApp was free of advertising in the past, this will now change, and several Germans have already taken to social media to complain.
Mark Zuckerberg's data giant Facebook bought Whatsapp four years ago, and has now signed an agreement for free advertising, which it can show in the form of videos, text or photos. 
Facebook Vice President Chris Daniel announced in November that he wanted to show the ads in the status area in the future. At the time, the announcement prompted some Whatsapp employees to leave the company.
Germany in the past tried to minimize the relationship between the two services; in 2016, the Data Protection Services blocked Facebook from collecting user information from WhatsApp.
Photo: DPA
Woman and/or holidaymakers rejoice, officially
Whether in the name of feminism or having another official day off of work, many Berliners rejoiced last week when Frauentag, or Women's Day, was voted by Berlin's state parliament as a public holiday. It will be officially written in to law on February 1st. 
Cities cleaning up their act?
More and more German cities are imposing driving bans on older diesel models. A ban zone was only introduced in Stuttgart at the turn of the year. However a ban in Frankfurt, which was supposed to go into affect on February 1st, is currently being put on ice, as the city is protesting the decision made by the Hesse state government in Wiesbaden.  
Spraying on the safe side
An amendment to the EU Cosmetics Regulation stipulates that sprays and other cosmetics must no longer contain zinc oxide. Inhaling such particles can cause pneumonia. Starting from February 24th, such products may not be sold. Cosmetics already on shelves, however, can be sold up to May 24th. 
The real pill
Counterfeit drugs will hopefully be a thing of the past by later this year. As of February 9th, 2019, the packaging of medicines must bear an individual number and a seal, according to Germany's Federal Office of Medicine and Medical Products, bringing it up to standard with EU-wide regulations. This is intended to prevent counterfeit medicines from entering the market. 
A toll that's not so toll (great)?
Holidaymakers heading to the Austrian ski slopes by car will have to dig a little deeper into their pockets from February 1st. From then on, the new annual tolls will apply - with slightly higher prices. Instead of €87.30, the annual toll now costs €89.20.
Also the tolls for shorter trips (for ten days or two months) become more expensive. They rise in each case around 60 cent to €9,20 or €26,80.
Keeping emissions in balance
At the end of January 2019, the amendment to the Greenhouse Gas Emissions Trading Act (TEHG) came into force, transposing the reform of European emissions trading into German law. The primary aim is to reduce the amount of greenhouse gases and at the same time to ensure the competitiveness of energy-intensive industries within the EU.
Here's a bit of background: Throughout Europe, 12,000 industrial and energy plants are participating in emissions trading. This means that together they may only emit a certain amount of greenhouse gases. This maximum quantity will be reduced from year to year - this year by 38 million tonnes, and by 2021 by 48 million tonnes. 
Photo: DPA
Some say that this really sucks
Anyone looking for a new vacuum cleaner has so far been able to look to the EU energy label. With a letter scale that ranged from A+++ to D and a colour scale from dark green to dark red, it quickly became clear which product was energy-efficient - and which was not. But that's over now: vacuum cleaners will no longer have an EU energy label.
While the manufacturers of refrigerators, washing machines and televisions may continue to advertise with such a label, the labels of vacuum cleaners must disappear. The reason for this is a court ruling which criticized the test method chosen by the EU.
According to the court's reasoning, energy consumption had only been tested using empty vacuum cleaner bags. Yet they said this is an inefficient way to test: in practice, of course, vacuuming is also done with filled bags - and this influences energy efficiency. The complaint was filed by the British company Dyson, whose products are completely bagless.
Cheaper Saki for residents of Germany
The Free Trade Agreement between the European Union and Japan enters into force on February 1st. The significance is enormous, say economists: both markets account for around one-third of global economic output.
With the agreement - also called Jefta - almost all customs duties on the products of both economic areas will cease to apply. The annual savings for EU exporters are expected to amount to around one billion euros annually. In addition, an increase in exports is expected due to the size of the Japanese market.
Sushi sold in a REWE supermarket. Photo: DPA
Looking on the sunny side
Starting Thursday, January 31st, the new register for photovoltaic systems in Germany will be launched. All types of devices, from a solar roof you install on your home (though most likely won't reap much benefit from in February) to solar production plants, apply - you can find the form to register here
Newly set-up systems, as well as the expansion of existing PV systems, must be registered within one month of installment. There is a two-year notification period for owners of existing systems. Anyone who misses this deadline risks a reduction in the feed-in tariff under the Renewable Energy Sources Act (EEG).
Want to know what will change throughout Germany over the course of the year? See our article about everything that's set to change in 2019


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