Bi-lateral relations, business, climate and other news from Germany and the Embassy
December 20, 2023 View online
GERMANY FOR AMERICANS

Dear Readers,

Hamas’ terrorist attack on Israel has shaken us to our core. To this day, the war in Gaza remains the focus of attention. The consequences for Israel and the entire Middle East are dramatic and make the continued close coordination between Germany and the U.S. all the more important. As German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock has reiterated on many occasions, Germany stands firmly by Israel's side, and Israel has the right to defend itself. At the same time, Germany and the U.S. have made clear that Israel must abide by international humanitarian law and needs to do more to protect the lives of civilians in Gaza. To alleviate the suffering, Germany has increased its funding for humanitarian aid to Gaza.

Meanwhile, Putin continues to wage his brutal war against Ukraine, hoping that European support will weaken. Instead, in a historic move, the member states of the European Union (EU) decided last week to open negotiations on potential EU membership for Ukraine. Germany – which is already the second largest bilateral donor to Ukraine – decided to double its military support for the coming year. “Europe and the U.S. are jointly supporting Ukraine against Russian aggression,” Ambassador Michaelis wrote on X. “It’s a unique success story. Let’s make sure that we continue it.”

Last but not least, the COP 28 ended with a breakthrough last week. At the United Nation’s Climate Change Conference in Dubai, the world agreed for the first time to transition away from fossil fuels. Another key outcome from Germany’s perspective was the agreement to triple renewable energy and double energy efficiency, both by 2030. All of these are important steps to make our economies more sustainable.

We wish all our readers Frohe Weihnachten, Merry Christmas!

Yours,

The Germany for Americans Team

CURRENT AFFAIRS

Germany doubles military support for Ukraine

Germany’s support for Ukraine will significantly increase next year, Federal Chancellor Olaf Scholz announced. The Government will double its support for Ukraine from four to eight billion euro in 2024. Moreover, probably more than six billion euro will be spent to help Ukrainian refugees in Germany. Chancellor Scholz also assured that should the situation be exacerbated as a result of Russia’s war against Ukraine or because other supporters reduce their aid, the German Government was prepared to respond. In a post on the social media platform X, Ukrainian President Zelensky thanked Germany for its leadership.

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Historic decision: EU opens accession talks with Ukraine

Last week, European heads of state and government decided to open EU accession talks with Ukraine and the Republic of Moldova. It is a historic, strategic decision that makes clear that these countries belong to the European family. At the meeting of the European Council, member states also granted Georgia candidate status. Meanwhile, negotiations on a new EU financial aid package to provide a significant boost to Ukraine’s defense will continue in January. There is a strong will to deliver.

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Germany will station about 5,000 soldiers on NATO’s eastern flank

Germany will permanently deploy a brigade in Lithuania, on Russia’s border. The brigade of about 5,000 soldiers will be combat-ready in 2027. This week, German Defense Minister Pistorius and his Lithuanian counterpart signed a roadmap for the deployment. "We are assuming a leadership responsibility here in the Alliance and on NATO's eastern flank," Defense Minister Pistorius said.

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Minister Baerbock at COP28: Beginning of the end of fossil fuels

Foreign Minister Baerbock, Germany’s chief negotiator in the final phase, hailed the UN Climate Change Conference's agreement in Dubai as the beginning of the end of fossil fuels. The historic agreement calls for transitioning away from fossil fuels, although it falls short of calling for a "phase-out." It also outlines ambitious renewable energy and efficiency targets by 2030, which was another key objective of Germany at the summit. The COP28 had been off to a good start: on day one, parties agreed to operationalize the Loss and Damage Fund, which aims to provide financial assistance to nations most vulnerable and impacted by the effects of climate change. Germany contributed $100 million to kick-start the fund together with the United Arab Emirates.

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Germany increases assistance for people in Gaza

Germany has significantly increased its humanitarian aid for Gaza to respond to the dire humanitarian situation. In order to alleviate the suffering, Foreign Minister Baerbock announced an increase of 50 million euro, bring the total amount to 179 million euro in 2023. Aid includes vital supplies such as food, medicine, and hygiene products. Moreover, ahead of Christmas, relief flights will deliver aid worth $1.5 million to Egyptian hospitals. Incubators and ventilators have already arrived for babies and children from Gaza being treated there.

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Scholz lights Hannukah menorah calling for solidarity with Jews

Chancellor Scholz highlighted the integral role of Jewish life in Germany, particularly after the Hamas attack on Israel. Lighting a giant Hannukah menorah at the Brandenburg Gate, he stressed "never again" and expressed support for the Jewish community, emphasizing solidarity and protection of religious freedom.

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Germany condemns Houthi attacks on international shipping

Standing united with its American partners, Germany condemned the Houthi attacks on global shipping. The assaults severely threaten maritime security in an already vulnerable region and pose a challenge to the international community. “We assume that these attacks would not be possible without Iran's long-standing support for the Houthis,” a Foreign Ministry statement reads.

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ECONOMY & CLIMATE

Germany adopts far-reaching strategy on climate foreign policy

As the COP28 took place in Dubai, the German Government adopted Germany’s first strategy on climate foreign policy. This innovative framework consolidates climate policy objectives and actions across diverse ministries, establishing focal points and outlining a roadmap for unified governmental initiatives in climate-related foreign policy. Recognized as the most extensive strategy of its nature globally, it signifies Germany's commitment to synchronized and far-reaching efforts in addressing climate concerns on the international stage.

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The U.S. introduces high-speed rail trains – and Siemens Mobility stands ready to support

Siemens Mobility commended President Biden and the U.S. Department of Transportation for making a historic investment in high-speed rail and pledges its support to usher in a new era in American passenger transportation. Siemens, a German company with a global track record, is ready to deliver high-speed trains like the American Pioneer 220 that meet Biden's vision of sustainable, safe, and reliable transportation. The German Ambassador to the United States, Andreas Michaelis, wrote on X: "It is very important to move this project forward. Siemens Mobility and other German companies are the ideal partners to provide the rolling stock and technology.”

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Daimler Truck North America starts operating electric vehicles in its logistics network

Daimler Truck North America (DTNA), LLC of the German multinational Daimler Truck AG, is incorporating battery electric trucks into its Pacific Northwest logistics, showcasing their potential within the company's fleet. This environmentally conscious move is in line with the company’s sustainability commitment, which aims to reduce environmental impact, achieve carbon-neutral production, and optimize the life cycle of batteries.

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Milestone reached: Renewables cover more than half of electricity consumption in Germany

In 2023, Germany marked a significant energy shift, as over 52% of its electricity consumption came from climate-neutral sources, a 5% increase from the previous year. Solar power hit a record 9.8 billion kilowatt hours in June, while on-shore wind power reached 113.5 billion kilowatt hours, contributing to an all-time high of 267.0 billion kilowatt hours generated through climate-neutral methods.

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Landmark legislation: EU Council and Parliament strike a deal on initial rules for AI

The EU's landmark AI Act introduces comprehensive regulations aimed at ensuring safe AI use within the EU. The act employs a risk-based approach, classifying AI systems based on potential harm and prohibits certain high-risk applications. The pioneering legislation is expected to set global standards, enhancing AI development while safeguarding fundamental rights within the EU. It still awaits finalization before entering into force.

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DID YOU KNOW...

… that Germany may soon have new UNESCO World Heritage sites?

Germany already has an impressive count of 52 World Heritage sites and a stake in ten transnational serial World Heritage sites. Now, the federal and state ministers of culture and education approved seven new German proposals for the UNESCO World and Cultural Heritage List, which could further elevate its global heritage standing! Among the exciting additions, Germany’s proposals feature two collaborative projects involving France, Italy, and Portugal, highlighting international cooperation at its finest. Our national treasures making the cut are Stuttgart's television tower, Munich's Olympic Park, Pretziener Wehr in Saxony-Anhalt, Berlin's Zehlendorf forest settlement, and the Schöningen Spears in Lower Saxony.

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… that famous actress Lupita Nyong’o is going to be jury president at the Berlinale?

Kenyan actress Lupita Nyong'o, renowned for her roles in 12 Years a Slave and Black Panther, is set to lead the jury at Berlinale 2024. The Academy Award winner, also active as a director, producer, and author, was praised by Berlinale directors for her cinematic versatility and consistent portrayal of diverse characters. Nyong'o was honored to accept the role, stating she aimed to celebrate global filmmakers' exceptional work at the event, scheduled to take place February 15-25, 2024. The Berlinale is one of the most important film festivals in the world, highlighting Germany as an important location for film production

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ON A LIGHTER NOTE

Germany wins U-17 FIFA World Cup final for first time ever

Germany's U17 soccer team's recent World Cup win shines a ray of hope amid challenges faced by the senior national squad. Head coach Wück emphasized that the road to professional leagues and the senior national team looks promising for these rising stars.

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