The big changes in Germany to expect in 2020

The big changes in Germany to expect in 2020
Will 2020 bring the tides of change? Photo: Depositphotos/galitskaya
From a new public holiday to increased pensions, we look at the changes coming to Germany in the first year of the new decade.

From increased minimum wage to lower taxes, several changes are coming to Germany starting on Wednesday.

READ ALSO: Everything that changes in January 2020 in Germany

Yet throughout the year, there will also be a handful of new laws and regulations being enacted – plus a one-off public holiday in March.

We lay out what to look out for in the coming year.

March: More skilled workers and a mandatory vaccine

Germany has long had a shortage of skilled workers, especially in fields such as nursing and IT. That’s why the German government was keen to pass a Skilled Workers Act, which officially becomes written into law on March 1st.

Archive photo shows a skilled worker in Bremen. Photo: DPA

The aim is to accelerate visa procedures and improve the opportunities for professionals to learn German. Vocational qualifications are also to be recognized more easily than before.

READ ALSO: How Germany is set to make it easier for non-EU skilled workers to enter the labour market

For better protection against measles, the Bundestag has passed a law making a vaccination compulsory. From March 1st, parents will then have to prove that their children have been vaccinated before admitting them to daycare centres or schools.

For children who are already attending daycare or school, proof must be provided by July 31st, 2021. Fines of up to 2,500 are to be imposed for violations.

READ ALSO: Germany makes measles vaccination mandatory for children

April: More expensive plane tickets

Travel is set to become either much cheaper or more expensive, depending on which form you use. Avid train travellers will be pleased that the VAT (value added tax) on rail tickets for long-distance travel will fall from 19 to seven percent in 2020, slashing overall prices by around 10 percent.

A flight taking off from Munich Airport. Photo: DPA

The air transport tax, on the other hand, is to rise significantly from April as part of a political push to disincentive taking cheap inter-European flights rather than trains. As much as an extra 59.43 will be due, depending on distance of travel, or about 18 more than before. 

READ ALSO: Trains instead of planes: Could domestic flights in Germany really become obsolete?

July: Increased pensions

Germany’s roughly 21 million pensioners can look forward to significantly higher payments in the coming year as well. As of July 1st, pensions are expected to rise by 3.15 percent in western Germany and by 3.92 percent in eastern Germany.

In addition, fewer health insurance contributions will be paid on company pensions.

Germans are worried about getting older. Photo: DPA

READ ALSO: Grundrente: Merkel's coalition reaches deal on pension reform

May: A historic day and one-off public holiday in Berlin

Friday, May 8th marks one of Germany’s most memorable moments in history: The Day of Liberation (Tag der Befreiung). In 2020, it will recognized as a public holiday in Berlin, as it occurs exactly 75 years after the surrender of the Wehrmacht Republic. This marked the end of National Socialism and World War II.

This is the first time that a state in modern-day Germany is recognizing the day as an official day off from work. However, in the GDR it was also recognized as a public holiday every year from 1950 to 1967, as well as on the 40th anniversary of WWII’s end in 1985.

December: Digital change

Digital radio is coming: From December 21th,, radios in new cars must allow reception of DAB+ (Digital Audio Broadcasting). Until now, many newly registered cars have only been equipped with an analogue FM radio. Only seven million cars in Germany are currently equipped with DAB+.

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