Third Merkel government focusing on social policies

by Mattia Rosini - 2013.12.16
Third Merkel government focusing on social policies
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The newly established große Koalition in Germany is also - above all - based on social policies. This topic was at the heart of quick discussions and heated debates between Angela Merkel's CDU party on the one hand (with CSU Bavarian allies) and Social Democrats (SPD) on the other.

But what are the key points leading to a new edition of this red-black alliance? Let's start from the most controversial: dual citizenship. At present, anyone born in Germany by immigrant parents from non-EU countries get both German citizenship and that of their parents, provided that (i) parents have been living in the Federal Republic for more than 8 years and (ii) have a permanent residence permit at the moment of birth. Not only. In any case, children of foreign nationals have to choose either for one citizenship or the other at the age of 23. This obligation to choose - introduced in 2000 - will be eliminated by the new government. An innovation favourably accepted especially by the Turkish community, the largest in Germany. And a victory of the SPD, which had notoriously excluded any hypothesis of coalition which didn't envisage the introduction of dual citizenship.

Another significant addiction is the introduction of minimum wage of €8.50/hour as of January 1, 2015. However, employers and their counterparts will be allowed to agree on a lower amount only up to 2017. What about mini-jobs, i.e. part-time jobs with a more or less fixed fee of €450 for a total of 20 weekly hours? No minimum wage will be established for them, but a last-minute change opened the doors to work-training contracts and internships, initially excluded from legislation.

In terms of labour policies, it is worth highlighting a small reform on pensions, in addition to the changes already announced that will become effective next year. A 'solidarity contribution' will be introduced as of 2017. In practice, pensioners with less contributions paid will rely on an additional monthly allowance, up to €850/month. While the amount of invalidity pensions will be increased. The 'pension package' should cost around €20 billion.

Another entry on the government agenda is the law on prostitution, in force since 2001 in Germany. They're envisaging a reform to stop the proliferation of brothels, in particular those in a grey zone between legality and crime. Major changes include persecution of clients, when they are caught in company of girls 'evidently obliged to prostitute themselves'; introduction of a permit for opening new 'shops'; and elimination of the flat rate, allowing clients to pay a sum at the entry of the club to get any type of sexual service.

No agreement has been reached, instead, on rights for homosexual pairs. The three government partners generically expressed their disapproval of 'discrimination,' without introducing the possibility of adoption for gay pairs nor the complete equalisation of gay unions.

Published in Citizenship.
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