Germany’s analogue admin is even annoying the chancellor

Chancellor Olaf Scholz has found himself caught in the sticky web of Germany's notoriously outdated administrative processes, he has told a conference on digitalisation.

Chancellor Olaf Scholz speaks at the digital conference in Berlin on June 9th
Chancellor Olaf Scholz speaks at the digital conference in Berlin on June 9th. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Annette Riedl

Scholz had to go and apply for a passport and ID card in person because it was not possible online, the chancellor told the re:publica digital conference in Berlin on Thursday. 

“I drove by there, there was no other way,” he said, adding that he would like to see such services offered via the internet in the future.

Scholz said Germany had some catching up to do on digitalisation and admitted he was “really surprised” when he recently learned that some of the country’s immigration authorities had shelved plans to put more procedures online.

“I can only say that’s not the way to go,” he said.

Though known for being at the forefront of many technologically advanced industries, Europe’s biggest economy has long been criticised for lagging behind when it comes to digitalisation, although the culture is slowly changing. 

READ ALSO: What you need to know about dealing with German bureaucracy online

The German weekly WirtschaftsWoche reported this week that the chancellery has no secure line for video calls, meaning Scholz has to get in a car to the defence ministry whenever he has to take part in a sensitive NATO teleconference.

A solution is envisaged for late 2023, the paper said.

Last year, it emerged that some 1,600 fax machines were still lurking in Berlin’s Bundestag house of parliament as the government announced it was finally planning to get rid of them.

In another throwback to the 1980s, Berlin also announced with some fanfare last year that teachers would finally be getting their own email addresses.

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Living in Germany: World Cup rainbows, pumpkin slaughter and a nation of savers

From unusual traditions at a world famous pumpkin festival to Germans' spending habits (or lack there of), we take a look at some of the big talking points of life in Germany.

Living in Germany: World Cup rainbows, pumpkin slaughter and a nation of savers

Where do Germans move to?

Many of our members are foreigners who choose to call Germany home. But what do we know about the Germans who move outside the country? According to official figures from last year, around five million Germans currently live abroad. And most of the Germans who emigrate – perhaps unsurprisingly – don’t go too far. Switzerland is home to the most Germans who choose to leave their country.

About 17,000 Germans took up residence there in 2021. Next in line is Austria – another German-speaking country. Around 11,000 Germans chose to live and work there last year.

But it’s not just the German-speaking places that attract Deutschlanders. In third spot for Germans emigrating abroad in 2021 was the United States – 8,400 Germans moved there last year. Meanwhile, just over 6,000 Germans took up residence in Spain, while around 5,000 each opted for Turkey, France, the United Kingdom, and Poland. 

Tweet of the week

All eyes are on the FIFA World Cup in Qatar – but it’s more than football that’s in the news. The world is watching the various protests going on against Qatar, over its treatment of migrant workers, women and the LGBTQ community. German football commentator Claudia Neumann made waves for her choice of rainbow clothing. 

Where is this?

Photo: DPA/Ilkay Karakurt

The Ludwigsburg pumpkin festival (Kürbisausstellung) is slowly coming to an end after months! So what happens to the pumpkins? Well, a big “pumpkin slaughter” takes place at the Blühende Barock gardens where enthusiasts salvage what they can. Meanwhile, the seeds are usually auctioned off. 

Did you know?

With inflation at over 10 percent, it’s no wonder that many people in Germany are being more careful with their spending. A new survey released this week from the Federation of German Consumer Organizations (VZBV) found that 63 percent of consumers have cut back their spending. The survey also found that more Germans are making long-term changes to their lifestyle such as buying less clothes and repairing goods instead of buying new ones. However, did you know that Germany has a reputation for saving, and making items go further? In fact, Germans are known for being a nation of savers rather than investors.

The Local contributor Aaron Burnett wrote in a recent article on investing: “It’s even apparent in the language – the German word for “debt” is ‘Schuld,’ which also means ‘guilt.’ During the euro crisis, ‘austerity’ was often called ‘Sparpolitik’ in German newspapers, or “the politics of saving”. Meanwhile, many Germans keep most of their money in savings accounts and avoid maxing out credit cards. 

Germany is also known for its second-hand culture and strong recycling ethic. Second-hand shops or platforms for selling items are common. You’ll also find that people leave their old clothes or books on their doorstep in a box with ‘zu verschenken’ (to give away) written on a sign. People can look through the items and take anything they want at no cost.