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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
Sorbian Catholics in Crostwitz, Saxony, celebrate Corpus Christi with a procession in 2023. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Matthias Rietschel

Public holiday for Corpus Christi starts in several German states, German cabinet agrees sweeping pension reforms and more news from around Germany.

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Thursday marks public holiday in six German states

Several German states enjoy a public holiday on Thursday. 

The Catholic holiday of Fronleichnam, known sometimes as Prangertag or Blutstag, or Corpus Christi - is a public holiday in Baden-Württemberg, Bavaria, Hesse, North Rhine-Westphalia, Rhineland-Palatinate and Saarland.

The holiday is also celebrated in some other regions of Germany, such as in Sorbian communities. 

Meanwhile, a bus drivers' strike that affects several routes is continuing on Thursday in Hesse. 

READ ALSO: What you should know about Germany's public holiday in six states

German purchasing power rises

Real wages in Germany - which takes into account whether purchasing power is rising or falling in line with inflation - rose strongly in the first quarter.

The country's statistical agency said that even though inflation rose, real wages went up 3.8 percent. That marks the biggest single-quarter gain since 2008.

The average wage went up by just over six percent in the same time period, although inflation always eats into these gains - making real wages a better indicator of whether someone's salary is getting better or worse.

READ ALSO: German inflation edges up, as do real wages

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Cabinet agrees sweeping pensions reform package 

After months of wrangling, German ministers have finally greenlit the government's second package of measures designed to secure state pensions over the long-term. 

On Wednesday afternoon, the cabinet cleared the way for the plans of Labour Minister Hubertus Heil (SPD) and Finance Minister Christian Lindner (FDP) to head to a vote in the Bundestag. Under the proposals, pensions will continue to rise in line with wages, while the pension level will be fixed at 48 percent.

Germany's Finance and Labour ministers standing side by side

Hubertus Heil (right), Federal Minister of Labor and Social Affairs, speaks alongside Christian Lindner (left), Federal Minister of Finance, during a press statement on the new planned Pension Package. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Michael Kappeler

In addition, Germany will invest at least €200 billion into the stock market by the mid-2030s, largely using government debt, in order to create an investment fund that will help shore up pension funds for future generation. 

Wednesday's cabinet vote marks the end of a long battle between Heil and Lindner, with Lindner allegedly blocking the reforms over disagreements around budgets and early retirement. 

READ ALSO: Why a row has broken out in Germany over pension reforms

Welcoming the news at a Berlin press conference, Heil said the reform was all about "investing in the welfare state and in the social security of tomorrow". 

German cabinet signs off plans to allow carbon capture

The cabinet also signed off on plans to authorise carbon capture as part of a drive to reduce CO2 emissions. However, climate campaigners slammed the move as illusory and impractical.

The government wants to approve the technology to help counter emissions in heavily polluting industries, such as the cement and lime industries, according to the Economy Ministry.

Under a planned amendment to the law, which must still be signed off by the German parliament, carbon storage would also be allowed in the seabed, and in some cases underground on land.

"Carbon capture must be made possible in Germany, otherwise we will not be able to meet our climate protection targets," said Economy Minister Robert Habeck.

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Carbon capture involves extracting CO2 from industrial sources and then either transporting it to bury underground or reusing it as an ingredient in products such as synthetic fuels or chemicals.

The process can be used to syphon off CO2 from the exhaust, or flue gas, of fossil fuel-fired power plants as well as heavy industry.

Environmental groups criticised the German plans, with Greenpeace claiming they offered only the "illusion of a solution".

Germany aims to reduce CO2 emissions by 65 percent by 2030 and achieve climate neutrality by 2045.

Germany plans mandatory charging points for petrol station chains

Drivers of electric cars are to have more fast-charging points at petrol stations across Germany in future.

Under new plans, the German government wants to force large petrol station chains to build fast-charging points.

The 'supply requirement' stipulates that companies with at least 200 petrol stations must operate at least one publicly accessible fast-charging point with a capacity of at least 150 kilowatts at each petrol station from January 1st, 2028. 

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Around a dozen companies are likely to be affected by the obligation, according to a paper from the Ministry of Transport, seen by DPA. 

According to the draft, the supply requirement is expected to result in an additional 8,000 new fast-charging points. According to the ministry, as of April, just under 22,000 of the 115,000 publicly accessible charging points are fast-charging stations.

However, industry associations have criticised the plans.

Managing Director of the petroleum industry association en2x, Christian Küchen, said petrol stations are already committed to developing charging infrastructure.  He said the plans were "‘pure symbolic politics".

With reporting by AFP

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