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POLITICS

What we learned from Angela Merkel’s Bundestag debate speech

One of the most important dates in the political calendar took place in the Bundestag on Wednesday - the general budget debate. Here are what Chancellor Angela Merkel's top priorities are.

What we learned from Angela Merkel’s Bundestag debate speech
Angela Merkel in the Bundestag on Wednesday. Photo: DPA

Climate protection took the top spot in the chancellor's speech on Wednesday during a debate in which she was grilled on her policies.

Merkel said the fight against climate change was a “task for mankind” as she spoke to a packed-out audience in one of the Bundestag's most anticipated highlights.

The chancellor also used her time in the spotlight to promote digitization, stronger ties with the EU, integration and the rise of intolerance in society.

“Climate protection will cost money,” Merkel said on Wednesday during the lively debate on Germany’s 2020 budget. “This money is well spent. If we ignore it, it will cost us more.

“Doing nothing is not an alternative.”

In order to tackle the climate problem, Germany must rely on innovation, research, technical solutions, but also on the mechanisms of the social market economy, said Merkel.

She called for a further expansion of renewable energies, including an acceptance for wind farms, which tend to be built in rural areas and often cause friction among communities.

Merkel warned against any “arrogance” among city dwellers towards people in rural areas and called for a “new alliance of city and countryside”.

The speech comes after elections in Brandenburg and Saxony where Merkel's centre-right Christian Democrats (CDU) suffered heavy losses and the far-right Alternative for Germany made gains.

READ ALSO: Five things to know about the AfD surge in German regional elections

'We have to become better'

She said moving forward with digitization is crucial to maintaining Germany's prosperity. 

Germany is known for lagging behind on digital infrastructure, with patchy internet coverage around the country. However, Merkel insisted it was a priority and that the country was moving forward.

“We have to develop a strategy of how we provide blanket coverage, including for farmers and many others, to have access to broadband internet,” she said.

“We have to become better, faster, and keep up in the area of artificial intelligence. We have developed a strategy and invited internationally recognized professors to come to Germany to work.”

READ ALSO: Brandenburg elections: In east German rust belt, economic fears boost far-right

'Prepared' for a no-deal

As The Local reported, Merkel also discussed Brexit and closer cooperation within the EU in the face of changes. 

Speaking to the Bundestag, the German leader said there was still time to hammer out a deal.

“The EU will in a few months experience the exit of an important member, the exit of Britain,” Merkel said.

“I am firmly convinced that we still have every chance to do it in an orderly way and the German government will work toward making this possible until the very last day.”

However she added that if the EU and Britain failed to agree on terms for Brexit, Germany was “prepared” for a disorderly divorce.

Merkel also referred to the economic slowdown in Germany but insisted there was no shortage of money for investments in infrastructure.

READ ALSO: 'Seniors rescue the established parties': German grey votes fight far-right

The chancellor came under fire from opposition parties.

AfD faction leader Alice Weidel accused the government of pushing the country into recession. She warned: “The crisis is not coming, the crisis is already here.”

She also accused the coalition of “deindustrializing” Germany with “green-socialist ideology” based on “climate madness.”

Dietmar Bartsch, co-leader of The Left (die Linke) parliamentary group, accused the government of setting the wrong priorities in the budget.

Dietmar Bartsch of Die Linke in the Bundestag. Photo: DPA

“A strict debt brake instead of necessary investments, military instead of increasing social security contributions and allowing mass poverty among children and the elderly: that is the priority in their budget.”

'We need to find answers'

Merkel also called for more action against hate and intolerance in response to comments from the AfD on the government's immigration policy.

“We know that in Germany people have concerns, that people feel left behind, that development between the town and the country are very different,” Merkel said. “We need to find answers to that.”

Merkel went on to say that racially and religiously motivated attacks, as well as violence and hate speech, happened every day.

“We have to fight against that,” she said, adding that “proper co-existence is not possible” while there is still tolerance for racism and hatred.

Member comments

  1. Merkel , I’m afraid, takes after Obama with whom she was buddy buddy. Climate change is a natural phenomenon and we poor mortals can scream and use it to control others by telling them what they can and cannot do but we cannot change the weather. She would be better advised to spend her time attempting to help those in need. She has already guaranteed the destruction of the German nation by opening the borders to the mass influx of Middle Eastern refugees. These people are going to take over all of Western Europe. France will be the first to fall. Then Holland and then England. After that Germany.

  2. I think you are looking at the problem the other way around, the entire climate change issue is that the development of mankind has indeed changed the weather (deforestation, unsustainable meat consumption and water use, etc.). As the human population keeps increasing (we will be 10 billion people in 2050) we should try to affect the weather (and the planet) as little as possible by living in a sustainable way.
    Regarding the refugees, a little more love among us humans would go a long way 😉

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CULTURE

Pay women footballers the same as men, says German chancellor

Chancellor Olaf Scholz on Tuesday made a push for equal pay for men and women international footballers after Germany's successful run at the recent European Championships.

Pay women footballers the same as men, says German chancellor

“My position on this is clear,” Scholz said after a meeting with the German Football Association (DFB) to discuss the issue.

“We talked about how we can continue to help more girls and women get excited about football. Of course, the wages at such tournaments play a major role in this,” he said.

“That’s why it makes sense to discuss equal pay. I made the suggestion and I’m very grateful that there is a willingness to discuss this issue.”

Germany scored their biggest major tournament success since 2015 at this year’s European Championships, losing to England in the final at Wembley.

Scholz attended the final and also supported the women’s team by tweeting: “It’s 2022, and women and men should be paid equally. This also applies to sport, especially for national teams.”

READ ALSO: Scholz to cheer on Germany at Euro 2022 final

Chancellor Olaf Scholz (SPD) visits the DFP headquarters on Tuesday.

Chancellor Olaf Scholz (SPD) visits the DFP (German Football Association) headquarters on Tuesday. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Sebastian Gollnow

Germany’s women would have received €60,000 each if they had triumphed at the tournament, while the men would have received €400,000 each had they prevailed at the Euros last year.

Bernd Neuendorf, president of the DFB, said he understood the argument “that equal work and success should also have the same value”.

“I’m willing to discuss in our committees whether our payment system is up to date or whether it should be adjusted,” he said.

Germany coach Martina Voss-Tecklenburg suggested that international footballers’ wages could be evened out by paying women more and men less.

Officials must now “follow up with action” after the meeting, she said in an interview with the ZDF broadcaster.

Scholz said he was “very, very proud” of the women’s performance at the Euros, even if “it didn’t quite work out”.

“I hope it will have a long-lasting effect, not only on the players themselves… but also on football in Germany,” he said.

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