Debt brake: CDU boss Laschet opposes Helge Braun – opinion

Armin Laschet is known for some things, but certainly not for speaking power words. His speech in the Union faction was all the more astonishing. Chancellery chief Helge Braun – one of Angela Merkel’s closest confidants – had questioned the debt brake and therefore brought a constitutional amendment into play. But Laschet immediately stopped the advance with a degree of severity that many had not believed him capable of.

“Should members of the government consider it necessary to want to change the constitution, they should coordinate this with the party and parliamentary group in the future – you can’t just do that,” said Laschet. It was only one sentence, but it was a declaration of war. The new CDU leader has made it clear that the party and Union faction no longer want to accept that the Chancellery regularly treats them like subordinate authorities.

It doesn’t matter whether Helge Braun’s approach is correct or not – you can’t act like the head of the Chancellery. On the one hand, Braun opened the debate in such a raid-like manner that – at least in the Union – it has already ended. So Braun himself harmed his cause. Above all, however, he has shown an arrogance on the part of the Chancellery towards the MPs, to whom they have been allergic for years.

It is hard to imagine that Braun made his advance without the knowledge of the Chancellor

The fact that Volker Kauder was voted out of the head of the Union parliamentary group was also due to the fact that the MPs were tired of being often only treated as vicarious agents for the Chancellery under Kauder. The Chancellor is elected by the MPs and not the other way around. But Merkel seems to like to forget this after a good 15 years in office.

Although the Chancellor had explained to Braun’s move that it was a “personal contribution to my opinion” – she did not distance herself. And neither in the top of the Union parliamentary group nor in the CDU can they imagine that Braun would undertake such an advance without the knowledge of the Chancellor. In any case, the following applies: Braun behaved improperly towards the party of which he is a member.

The chancellor and her minister attended the meeting of the CDU presidium on Monday, but neither of them said a word about the debt brake. Braun has not even made a hint that a few hours later his advance would become public. He also knows about the importance of the debt brake for the Union.

So far, the new party leader has been lucky

After Merkel’s many years in the Chancellery, there are hardly any concrete positions that are associated with the CDU – the debt brake is one of them. No tax increases, sound financial management, black zero and the debt brake – that is the Union’s silverware. Wolfgang Schäuble is an example of how important it is to the party. Anyone who visits the President of the Bundestag in his office inevitably has to look at a large photo on the wall behind his desk: The employees of the Federal Ministry of Finance have given him a black zero in his honor.

But what does all this mean for Armin Laschet? Right at the start of his term in office, he had to find out what Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer had experienced for two years: that it is not easy to be CDU boss alongside a CDU-run chancellery. However, Braun’s unskillful advance also gave Laschet a chance to distinguish itself. And he has now used it.

So far, the new CDU boss has been lucky enough to do so. He has only been in office for a few days, but three potential troublemakers have already sidelined themselves through politically silly behavior: Friedrich Merz with his demand to become economics minister; Jens Spahn with his unfair appearance at the CDU party congress; and now Helge Braun.

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Federal government is considering compulsory data sharing for companies

Berlin The federal government wants to encourage companies in Germany to share more data. In view of the so far inadequate use, “suitable incentives for data access” must be created, according to the government’s new data strategy, which is available to the Handelsblatt. The 114-page document is to be approved in the cabinet on Wednesday.

The coalition is also considering an obligation to share non-personal data. Economics minister Peter Altmaier (CDU) and labor and social affairs minister Hubertus Heil (SPD) are to “examine whether an obligation to share certain data is necessary in particularly data-driven markets,” the paper says.

If necessary, this can be implemented within the framework of competition law or specific regulation. The protection of business secrets, intellectual property or personal data must “always be guaranteed”.

The Federal Government justified its considerations with studies which showed that in certain markets it is “practically impossible for competitors with significantly less data to catch up with the dominant company in the medium term”. This leads to “lower innovation incentives”.

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The SPD has long been pushing for a corresponding commitment, especially from the large digital corporations. Smaller companies and civil society organizations should benefit. The digital policy spokesman for the SPD in the Bundestag, Jens Zimmermann, was “satisfied” with the fact that the ministries are now to examine the feasibility.

Resistance from the Union and industry

However, the Union and business associations have so far rejected such an obligation. The reform of competition law that has just been resolved already opens up a limited right to access data from companies that dominate the market, according to the industry association Eco. Therefore, it was “unclear how the government envisions further conditions”. Bitkom warned that a general obligation to share data punishes innovative companies and tends to inhibit innovation.

In its strategy, the federal government also emphasizes that the incentives in particular must be improved. The aim is “to design the entire data ecosystem so that more data is used and exchanged voluntarily”. To this end, it wants to support the establishment of data pools: These data pools should serve as “trustworthy transaction spaces” through which companies, researchers and authorities can provide and jointly evaluate information without giving it away.

It also ties in with the planned European data rooms that are to be set up for the areas of industry, the environment, mobility and health, for example. The Gaia-X project is to provide the technical infrastructure for this.

Bitkom President Achim Berg described the upcoming adoption of the data strategy one year after the key points were presented as “overdue”. He warned: “Now we have to switch from discussion mode to implementation mode.”

The corona pandemic has shown how important reliable data is for decision-makers. Now what is needed is a coherent regulation that “dovetails the often uncoordinated measures that have existed so far”.

The Federal Government also sees a lack of coherence itself, namely with regard to data protection: the large number of laws in this area have resulted in “noticeable legal uncertainty”, according to the strategy. “We have seventeen data protection officers for each state and the federal government, who repeatedly represent different legal views,” criticized the State Minister in the Chancellery, Dorothee Bär, in a guest article in the Handelsblatt.

Research clauses in new laws

Uniform national interpretation aids are needed here. In addition, the principle of a leading data protection supervision, which already applies to the protection of health data, should be extended to cross-border research projects.

But there is resistance to this in the federal states. “If a supervisory authority were entrusted with the lead, it would have to guarantee the participation of the other supervisory authorities concerned,” said the data protection officer in Schleswig-Holstein, Marit Hansen, the Handelsblatt. In many cases, the lead supervisory authority would not have any knowledge of the applicable regulations in other federal states.

However, the federal government also sees itself as responsible. The state itself should become a pioneer, it says in the paper. For this, “the federal government must firstly modernize its internal processes and secondly improve the provision of data for the public”.

To this end, an open data strategy is to be introduced into the cabinet before the federal election and the Data Usage Act passed, which obliges the federal authorities to publish additional data.

In order to make federal data usable for science, Research Minister Anja Karliczek (CDU) also wants to push for “research clauses” in new federal laws. The “Action Plan for Research Data” is intended to help to reuse existing data, for example in the field of traffic or in the health sector, and to prepare it in a standardized manner.

The “National Research Data Infrastructure” that has already been set up should also make this data internationally accessible. According to Karliczek, the goal must be to “make better use of the potential of data for innovations and to strengthen data competence”.

More: Expert Council: Germany must digitize the economy and administration more consistently

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Now is the time to act in the corona pandemic

BIn her speech at the virtual world economic forum, und-Chancellor Angela Merkel (CDU) warned that we should now enter a time of action – and criticized China for dealing with the pandemic. “Talking and discussing is important,” said Merkel: “but now it’s about where something is done, according to the same, jointly discussed principles.” The pandemic has clearly shown the strengths and weaknesses in the individual countries. It is important to learn from this.

Carsten Button

“In the beginning we reflexively withdrew to ourselves, also in Germany,” she said. The pandemic, however, has made it clear how globally linked the world is – and also that the attempt at permanent isolation would fail in such an existential case. A multilateral approach is needed. Everything that has been discussed at the World Economic Forum in recent years is correct in this respect.

But what counts now is action. And multilateralism also means transparency: “At the beginning that was not enough from China.” This also applies to the transfer of data to and by the World Health Organization. One also had to learn that some global supply chains have not proven themselves or have even broken: “These chains have to withstand great stress during this time – otherwise regional protectionism will arise, and that is a great danger.”

Europe’s vulnerability has shown itself in the crisis

It is therefore important to better secure supply chains if you want to rely on them even in difficult situations. With a view to the vaccine supply, Merkel said: “Our vulnerability has been shown here.” Certain ingredients would also have to be manufactured in Europe in the future. According to her, the speed in Germany leaves a lot to be desired, “our processes take too long.”

On the foundation of solid finances, however, it was possible to launch an unprecedented economic program with a volume of more than 100 billion euros. The lack of digitization must now be remedied with these means. According to Merkel, this involves the supra-regional networking of health authorities, digital administration and the education system. “We know there that we have to rework,” said Merkel.

The transmission of the Covd-19 virus from animals to humans was a reminder that humans lived in their natural environment. “We remain dependent on nature”. All of the major global conventions on sustainability have proven to be absolutely correct: “We have to be more decisive and courageous here,” said Merkel. The goals that Europe has set could lead to Europe becoming the first continent to become climate neutral by 2050.

Along the way there will always be “tough measures” “in which we have to take people with us”. As examples, she cited the exit from coal and the switch to electric and hydrogen mobility. After the pandemic, it is always important to escape the danger of concentrating too much on yourself. This also applies to a wider extent with developing and emerging countries: “We will not save on development cooperation.”

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Corona vaccine is unlikely to work on seniors

Corona vaccine from Astra-Zeneca

The federal government had high hopes for the vaccine. But now, of all people, the vaccine hardly seems to work in the group of people who are particularly at risk from Corona, the elderly.

(Foto: imago images/Christian Ohde)

Berlin, Düsseldorf, Brussels After the controversial vaccination start in Germany, the federal government placed high hopes in the approval of the vaccine from Astra-Zeneca: The preparation of the British-Swedish group should complement the RNA vaccines from Biontech and Moderna and pave the way for the second vaccination phase, in which people can also have their family doctors vaccinated.

But the vaccine from Astra-Zeneca, which, unlike the RNA agents, does not require extreme freezing temperatures for storage, could be unsuitable for seniors at risk of corona: According to information from the Handelsblatt from coalition circles, the federal government only expects an effectiveness of eight percent among the over 65s. It was feared that this vaccine, for which the EU could approve this week, would not come close to the 90 percent effectiveness of the RNA vaccine. The extremely low effectiveness in seniors is a setback for the Berlin vaccination strategy.

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Europe quickly needs its own mega-chip factory

TSMC

The world’s largest contract manufacturer is building a new factory in the USA. Europe has not yet been on the Taiwanese agenda as a production location.

(Photo: Reuters)

His last days in the White House were turbulent. In the end, Donald Trump was chased from court in Washington with disgrace and shame. It went completely under the fact that not everything was bad, what the former US president has tackled in the past four years.

Trump recognized earlier than many other politicians the important role semiconductors play in the modern world. He managed to persuade the most important contract manufacturer in the industry to build a new plant in the USA: The Taiwanese group TSMC is now investing twelve billion dollars in a modern factory in Arizona over several years. This makes the USA a little less dependent on deliveries from Asia.

Europe should take this as an example. The EU must do everything to ensure that the world’s largest contract manufacturers, i.e. TSMC and Samsung, also invest here. These days it is becoming clear how dependent a European key industry is on manufacturers from the Far East: all over the continent, the assembly lines in car factories are at a standstill because there are no semiconductors.

It is almost humiliating when Federal Economics Minister Peter Altmaier (CDU) has to write a letter to his Taiwanese colleague. His request: You may stand up for the German auto industry at TSMC.

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The chances of establishing a so-called foundry are not that bad. This is also evident in America: Samsung is now also considering setting up its own factory in the USA. In the meantime, it no longer even needs the brutal threats of Donald Trump, which certainly played a role at TSMC. Apparently Samsung has recognized how attractive it is to manufacture closer to the customer.

Create financial incentives

Of course, this requires the appropriate financial incentives. New semiconductor factories are being promoted lavishly in Asia and the USA. TSMC has already secured the money, Samsung is still negotiating. Europe would have to go along with that, no question about it.

More important, however, are the customers – and they are undoubtedly in Europe. It’s not just fast-growing, large chip companies like Infineon, NXP and ST Microelectronics. There are also numerous second tier semiconductor companies such as Apple supplier Dialog Semiconductor. In addition, such a factory could be of interest to automotive suppliers like Continental who have not yet developed their own semiconductors.

Because that’s the next big trend: Not only do chip manufacturers buy from contract manufacturers, but more and more companies from outside the industry. Apple is the best example of this – the Californians are TSMC’s biggest customer. Meanwhile, Microsoft, Amazon and Google are also researching their own chips. In the future, more and more corporations will probably develop their tailor-made semiconductors and need production capacities for them.

Europe shouldn’t take long when it comes to new chip factories. Because it takes several years for them to run. The misery of the auto industry shows that time is pressing.

More: Chip shortage and impending shutdown: The auto industry is fighting on two fronts

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taz research on the union of values: on the far right

Felix Schönherr is the press spokesman for the Union of Values. He had previously tried to build structures for the right-wing extremist group “One Percent”.

The union of values ​​is drifting to the right Photo: Martin Müller / imago

BERLIN taz | When a member of the Union of Values ​​shouted “Sieg Heil” last summer and raised his arm in the Hitler salute, the association clearly distanced itself: “The Union of Values ​​resolutely rejects any form of right-wing extremism,” said press spokesman Felix Schönherr.

Schönherr, 33, is also a member of the federal board of the Union of Values, a group that wants to preserve the “conservative brand core” of the CDU and CSU, even if it is not a recognized party division. Most recently, she supported Friedrich Merz as a candidate for party leadership and continues to see him as the right candidate for chancellor – despite his defeat. The closeness of the Union of Values ​​to the AfD is repeatedly discussed, even when it is officially trying to differentiate itself from it.

As research by the taz shows, Felix Schönherr, of all people, was part of organizations that are even further to the far right.

In the spring of 2016, for example, he is trying to build structures of “one percent”. He writes an email to around ten other people interested in “one percent” and uses an address with the user name “one percent bayernsued”. An end to the “asylum crisis” is far from in sight, he writes. “So it is now up to us to organize the resistance outside of parliament!”

“Greenpeace for Germany”

The networking meeting should serve to “consolidate an initial structure in the region and plan actions”. The taz has the mail. The meeting then takes place a few weeks later in a café in Augsburg, as one participant confirms, Schönherr is there.

In April 2016 – at the same time as Schönherr invites to the meeting – a handful of people officially founded “One Percent” as an association. The right-wing extremist publicist Götz Kubitschek from Saxony-Anhalt is among them, as is Jürgen Elsässer, editor-in-chief of the now observed by the protection of the constitution CompactMagazine. Their vision: to found a “citizens’ movement”, a kind of “Greenpeace for Germany”.

As the taz research shows, in 2016 Schönherr was also a member of an internal Facebook group of the right-wing extremist “Identitarian Movement”. In that year, the Office for the Protection of the Constitution classified the group as a suspected case. “One percent” and the “identities” work together: sometimes they help each other out financially, sometimes they charter a ship to prevent refugees from coming to Europe across the Mediterranean. Both groups have excellent connections to the AfD.

In July 2019, the Office for the Protection of the Constitution classified the “Identitarian Movement” as clearly right-wing extremist and as an observation case. Around a year later, in June 2020, the head of the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution, Thomas Haldenwang, announces the classification of “one percent” as a suspected right-wing extremist case. Both groups are now being monitored by intelligence means. Relevant for the classifications according to Haldenwang: Your xenophobic, nationalist, racist or anti-Semitic ideologies.

A “German patriot” who studied rhetoric

Felix Schönherr studied rhetoric and claims that he was a “left student”. Today he describes himself as a “German patriot”. In 2017 he joined the CSU, the Junge Union, the RCDS and the Union of Values, whose press spokesman he has been since February 2020. His predecessor, media lawyer Ralf Höcker, not only represents the AfD legally, but has also appeared at an AfD event in the Bundestag.

As a board member, Schönherr signed an open letter to Thomas Haldenwang in June 2020 in which the Union of Values ​​asks the Office for the Protection of the Constitution to classify the taz as a “left-wing extremist endeavor”. You transport “left-wing extremist agitation in the general public”.

Alexander Mitsch, founder and chairman of the Union of Values, does not want to comment on Schönherr’s activities and refers to the press office – that is, to Felix Schönherr himself. On the phone, Schönherr says that he has nothing to do with either organization and that he distances himself from them.

When asked about the networking meeting in Augsburg, he does not deny his commitment to “One Percent”. Nor does he deny that he was part of the “Identitarian Movement”. He later sends an email. Schönherr writes that he was “never involved in an active or responsible role for these organizations” and was “certainly not a member”. And he turned on his lawyer, Ralf Höcker, a friend of the Union of Values.

Union of values ​​as a separate party?

In the meantime, Felix Schönherr is applying for the federal chairmanship of the Union of Values, as he announced after the CDU party conference last weekend. His goal: to further develop the Union of Values ​​into an organization “that is completely independent of the Union parties”, as it says on his candidacy website.

The Union of Values ​​would have to position itself as a separate party that would benefit from a possible split in the AfD – that is one idea. Schönherr describes his second as the founders of “One Percent” years earlier: organizing the union of values ​​in the form of a “campaign platform”, similar to an NGO, a “Greenpeace for the Fatherland”.

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Laschet’s first day in the Adenauer house

AOn May 15, 2017 he stood “at this desk” for the last time, said Armin Laschet on Monday afternoon. That was the day after the recent state elections in North Rhine-Westphalia. The hint of the new federal chairman of the CDU could be understood as a small, anecdotal memory. Or as an effort to remember your own strengths when you start your new office. Because Laschet had won the state elections and thus defeated the SPD and led the CDU to power in Düsseldorf. Look, that was the unspoken message, here is someone who can get a majority in the most populous country in the Federal Republic.

Then Laschet recalled his latest success, namely that he had received more than eighty percent of the votes in the written vote following the digital CDU party congress with almost all delegates participating. This is “important backing in this election year that is so important to us”. Apparently someone wanted to point out again how firmly he was sitting in the saddle.

A trace of incomprehension about Merz

He knows what it means if someone might have had a different favorite and in the end say they stand together now. “That is very important to me.” In the press conference after the first meeting of the newly constituted leadership bodies of the CDU under Laschet’s leadership, the language quickly turned to Friedrich Merz, who was only slightly inferior to Laschet. He had offered Merz “one of the most important positions” that the CDU had to offer: a place in the presidium. “Unfortunately, Friedrich Merz couldn’t take advantage of that,” said Laschet, and there was a trace of incomprehension in his words. Now they will talk about “new opportunities for participation”. “You know how I have valued him for many, many years.”

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Then the new boss explains why he didn’t offer Norbert Röttgen, the second loser, a position in the presidium. Merz took second place in the runoff election. But he is happy that Röttgen is there. Even without Laschet’s invitation, he ran for the presidium – with success. Either way, Laschet doesn’t seem to get rid of his two competitors that easily. Although they were not at the microphone in the foyer of the Konrad-Adenauer-Haus like Laschet, they were there.

Of course, it was also about the content. Laschet, who unlike Röttgen and Merz clearly supports the completion of the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline from Russia to Germany, said that he would not change this position. “Russia is in the world,” said the new CDU chief. You have to consider that, but you also have to make your values ​​clear. By this he meant criticism of Moscow for its dealings with opposition leader Alexei Navalnyj. Regarding the corona pandemic, Laschet said that there was currently no room for an “opening discussion” and referred to the danger posed by the mutated virus.

Laschet announced that the CDU would soon begin the process of developing a government program. That should be ready by the beginning of the election campaign for the federal election in autumn. The language also came down to whether the CDU had lost members after the party congress. General Secretary Paul Ziemiak replied: At the federal level there are 350 new entrants compared to 250 departures. The number of exits was “within the average range”, the number of entries was “pleasantly high” and “out of line”.

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Wirecard News: Investigative committee wants to question escape helpers

Jan Marsalek

The former Wirecard manager is on the run.

(Photo: Leopold Fiala)

Frankfurt / Munich The time in prison was short: after only one weekend in custody, a high-ranking ex-official of the Austrian secret service BVT is free again. He is said to have helped the former Wirecard board member Jan Marsalek to escape.

Marsalek is one of the main suspects in the multi-billion dollar fraud scandal involving the insolvent payment service provider from Aschheim near Munich. His compatriot Martin W., the former spy’s name, was a close confidante for several years. W. is said to have had his own office in Marsalek’s villa on Prinzregentenstrasse in Munich.

Reason enough for the Austrian investigators to tackle the ex-spy: W. is said to have behaved extremely cooperatively in the interviews over the weekend, according to Vienna. It is possible that W. incriminated other accused and disclosed details about Marsalek’s business.

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