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Today in Germany: A roundup of the latest news on Thursday

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Today in Germany: A roundup of the latest news on Thursday
Demonstrators hold Palestinian flags at a demonstration in Berlin that commemorates the forced expulsion of Palestinians from their land in 1948. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Fabian Sommer

Germany to mark 75 years of the Grundgesetz, German life expectancy drops, some German politicians call for the recognition of Palestine as a state, economy inches towards recovery, and more news from around Germany on Thursday.


Germany to mark 75 years of the Grundgesetz 

On Thursday, Germany will celebrate 75 years of the 'Basic Law' or Grundgesetz.

With the assistance of the Allied powers, West German states formulated das Grundgesetz over a number of conferences in 1948. It fully came into effect on May 23rd, 1949.

A ceremony will be held in the Reichstag building and Chancellery.

Federal President Frank-Walter Steinmeier is to deliver the central speech. "This Basic Law is the foundation on which freedom, democracy and justice determine the way we live together in our state," Steinmeier writes on his website.

READ ALSO: 'Grundgesetz' - what does Germany's Basic Law really mean?

German life expectancy drops behind similar countries

Life expectancy in Germany tends to be low compared to its Western European neighbours - and this year it has fallen even further behind.

According to a study by the Federal Institute for Population Research (BiB) and the Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, the gap in average life expectancy between Germany and other EU countries has widened steadily over the past two decades, increasing from 0.7 years in 2000 to 1.7 years in 2022.

"The beginning of the 2000s marked a turning point in the dynamics of mortality development in Germany," said the co-author of the study, Pavel Grigoriev, from BiB.

Since then, he said, the mortality gap between Germany and the other Western European countries has "grown relatively steadily."

At 83.5 years, people in Switzerland have the highest life expectancy, followed by Spain with an average life expectancy of 83.2 years. In Germany, the average life expectancy is 80.5 years.

Pensioners sit on a bench in Dresden

Pensioners sit on a bench in Dresden. Photo: picture alliance/dpa/dpa-Zentralbild | Sebastian Kahnert

Calls for Germany to recognise Palestine as a state

After a handful of European nations said they would recognise Palestine as a state, some voices in the Social Democratic Party (SPD) have called for Germany to follow suit. 

Norway, Ireland and Spain announced on Wednesday that they will recognise a Palestinian state from May 28th. The move sparked delight from Palestinian leaders and fury from Israel.

While the nations said they hoped other European countries will follow suit, France said it believed now is not the right moment for it to do so.

Meanwhile, Germany has previously taken the stance that it would only recognise Palestine as a state once the parties in the conflict have agreed on a two-state solution. 


But calls are growing to speed up this process. 

"Germany should push for the recognition of Palestine as part of a joint European initiative, provided that the hostages are released and a ceasefire is agreed,’ SPD MP Isabel Cademartori told Stern magazine.

READ ALSO: Police ban pro-Palestinian congress in Berlin

"Recognising Palestine can be an important first step towards a lasting political solution to the Middle East conflict, the goal of which is the peaceful coexistence of Israel with a Palestinian state that does not threaten Israel's security."

SPD foreign policy expert Ralf Stegner also called on the German government to work towards recognising Palestine. "Peace is only possible if security for Israel and self-determination for the Palestinian people come together," Stegner told Stern.


Bundesbank expects German economy to grow slightly

The Bundesbank has said it expects the German economy to have grown gently in the second quarter of 2024, after a positive first three months of the year.

"Economic output is likely to increase slightly again in the second quarter of 2024," the German central bank said in its monthly report.

Europe's largest economy exceeded expectations in the first quarter, when it posted growth of 0.2 percent.

The positive figures came as a relief after German output shrunk by 0.5 percent in the last quarter of 2023 at the end of a difficult period of high inflation.

Germany Federal Bank

Dark clouds hover over the German Federal Bank in Frankfurt. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Lando Hass

An improvement in the services sector was behind much of the rising German growth figures.

Businesses in the sector could see their "recovery continue", the Bundesbank said.

The trend could "broaden and intensify" if there was a renewed increase in private consumption, the central bank said.

Households had seen their purchasing power shrink amid high inflation, but slowing consumer price rises and increased salaries has seen the picture brighten.

READ ALSO: German economy rebounds from recession, but growth stays weak

First German author wins International Booker Prize 

The International Booker Prize, a prestigious British award for literature translated into English, has been won by a German author for the first time.

In a ceremony at London's Tate Modern on Wednesday, judges awarded Jenny Erpenbeck the prize for her novel Kairos, a love story set in the former GDR. 

The novel, which was originally published in German, charts a difficult but passionate love affair between a young woman and an older man in 1980s East Berlin. 


"It is a private story of big love and its decay," said Erpenbeck. "But it’s also a story of the dissolution of a whole political system."

Though Erpenbeck is the first German to win the prize, this is not the first time a Cold War-era novel has won it. 

Last year’s International Booker Prize winner, Time Shelter, was set during and after the fall of the Iron Curtain in Eastern Europe. 

Erpenbeck will share the £50,000 prize money equally with her translater Michael Hofmann. 

Flooding sparks debate over compulsory insurance 

After a wave of severe floods hit several regions of Germany earlier this week, politicians are once again discussing the need for mandatory insurance against natural disasters. 

This type of insurance would protect homeowners against losses caused by natural catastrophes such as forest fires, floods and landslides, which could ease pressure on the state.

READ ALSO: Germany braces for more severe storms and heavy rain

The topic is likely to be on the agenda at the next meeting of Chancellor Olaf Scholz (SPD) and the state premiers on June 20th, a spokesperson for the Ministry of Justice told the Augsburger Allgemeine on Wednesday. However, the ministry is sceptical about the approach. 


"The introduction of nationwide natural hazard insurance does not solve the problem of the risk of damage to buildings and the associated financial burden for citizens," the spokesperson told the regional newspaper.

"With many millions of residential buildings in Germany and the insurance expertise required for the inspection (of damaged homes), this inspection is extremely time-consuming and cost-intensive."

More than a year ago, the Bundesrat called for the nationwide introduction of compulsory natural hazard insurance, referencing the catastrophic floods in the Ahr valley in 2021 in which more than a hundred people lost their lives. 



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