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Heating service providers are driving up costs


If tenants have to pay thousands of euros extra for heating, this can also be due to an intermediary service provider - the so-called heat contracting. More and more people affected are refusing to pay.

Tenants of prefabricated apartment buildings on Bernhard-Kellermann-Straße in Magdeburg are expected to pay thousands of euros in additional heating costs alone. Although they have reduced their consumption by 33 percent, costs have risen by 250 percent. Isabell Michel is one of those affected. The geriatric nurse lives in a 48 square meter apartment.

Can Europe keep up with the competition as a location?


The European Union competes as an economic area with the USA and China. Experts warn that Europe is falling behind in this competition. How is the EU really doing shortly before the elections?

Europe is under pressure. Difficulties in growth, budget crises, high energy costs and bureaucracy - these are pressing problems for Europe as a business location. There could be solutions after the European elections. But how far-reaching will they be in order to be able to continue to compete with large economies such as the USA and China?

How the parties see the future of the EU


From the abolition of the EU Parliament to the establishment of a federal European state: the programs of the German parties cover almost every conceivable version of a future EU.

The parties running in the European elections deal in great detail with the democratic constitution and political structure of the European Union in their programs. Many of them are calling for more citizen participation and more rights for the European Parliament, such as the right of initiative in legislation.

There are also relatively frequent calls to abolish the unanimity principle in decisions by the European Council in order to avoid blocking action. When it comes to EU enlargement, the parties differ significantly in their stance: from the rejection of any enlargement to the position that it is precisely enlargement that will strengthen the EU.

Heating demand is lower than it has been in ten years


There hasn't been as little heating as last winter for more than ten years. For many people, their final heating bill is likely to be much lower. The main reason is the mild temperatures.

In the heating period from September 2023 to April 2024, the demand for heating in Germany was lower than it has been for over ten years. In an evaluation by the comparison portal Check24 based on weather data from the German Weather Service (DWD), the mild temperatures are primarily blamed for this. During this period, never before has so little energy been used for heating as last winter.

When Europe was enthusiastic about itself


The expansion of the EU to include eight states, primarily from Eastern Europe, was enthusiastically celebrated 20 years ago. Economically a success story - but politically also a process of disillusionment.

On the morning of May 1, 2004, an infant made headlines in Lithuania. Pictures of him can be seen on television news programs. It's a boy, born a few minutes after midnight. The first Lithuanian to be born a citizen of the European Union.

This is a historic turning point for his compatriots. Lithuania was not only part of the Eastern Bloc, but, like Estonia and Latvia, was a Soviet republic.

Several members are breaking EU debt standards


The majority of EU countries spent more than they earned in 2023. Eleven member states exceeded the limit for budget deficits, Germany did not. However, when it comes to the debt ratio, the Federal Republic is still above the upper limit.

Several EU member states broke rules on budget deficits and public debt in 2023. Eleven countries had a deficit of more than three percent of total economic output, according to data from the EU statistics office Eurostat. This means they are above the EU-wide upper limits that the member states have set for themselves.

Germany in the China trap


Chancellor Scholz's trip to China is a difficult mission: On the one hand, the EU wants to defend itself against a Chinese export glut. On the other hand, the German economy is still heavily dependent on China.

Shortly before Chancellor Olaf Scholz's trip to China, a study by the employer-oriented Institute of the German Economy (IW) was published: According to this, the German economy is and will remain dependent on China; What's more, the study shows that for some products - including some important raw materials and basic ingredients for medicines - dependence has even increased. According to Jürgen Matthes from the IW, the often called for de-risking - i.e. the reduction of import dependency - is not evident, at least on a broad scale.

VAT on gas is back at 19 percent


As of today, the full VAT of 19 percent is due again on gas and district heating - the reduction to 7 percent decided by the federal government in the wake of the Ukraine war is expiring. Experts expect higher costs for consumers.

From today onwards, consumers will again have to pay the full VAT rate on gas and district heating. With the end of the temporary reduction on March 31, the tax will rise from seven to 19 percent.

A gigafactory to stand up to China


One of the most modern factories for electric car batteries is being built on the German North Sea coast. Can the Swedish Northvolt group break the overwhelming Chinese dominance?

Peter Carlsson, 53, has a vision: The former Tesla manager wants to break into the Champions League of global electric car battery manufacturers and stand up to the dominant Chinese companies. To this end, Carlsson founded the Swedish start-up Northvolt in 2016. And one of the most modern battery factories in the world is now to be built in the far north of Germany, in the Schleswig-Holstein communities of Norderwöhrden and Lohe-Rickelshof.

What obligations homeowners have


The so-called Heating Act with its obligations regarding energy-saving renovations has recently caused a lot of confusion among homeowners. Most people don't have to do that much at first.

Hardly any other topic triggers as much discussion and emotion as energy renovation. Am I obliged to insulate the facade of my new house? Do I have to replace the heater? And how can I improve the building so that I use less expensive energy? These are all questions that concern buyers of an older home.

“We got through the winter really well”


The heating season is coming to an end. German energy supplies were also secured in the second winter without Russian pipeline gas. Although there were no nuclear power plants, the electricity mix became more climate-friendly.

Winter is considered the most difficult season for electricity supply in Germany and Europe. Because, on the one hand, photovoltaics only provide little electricity in the dark months, while on the other hand, the demand for electricity increases due to the heating energy required. After the end of the meteorological winter, we can now take stock - and it is positive.

Towards more equal pay - or the opposite?


Today's "Equal Pay Day" shows how big the pay differences between women and men are, even after a ruling from last year. An EU directive wants to change that - but critics fear the opposite.

A year ago, Susanne D. had tears in her eyes before the Federal Labor Court - they were tears of joy. She thinks of her daughters, of the women in Germany, she said, and is so happy “about this milestone.”

EU countries want to save another 15 percent on gas


Although the situation on the gas market has now eased, the EU member states want to extend the expiring emergency plan. This means that the savings target of 15 percent remains in place.

Despite the significantly better supply situation, the EU countries want to continue saving gas. The energy ministers of the member states agreed today at a meeting in Brussels to extend the gas emergency plan, which expires at the end of the month, for another year.

According to this, the EU states should continue to voluntarily keep their gas consumption 15 percent below the average consumption for the period from April 2017 to March 2022. “Although security of supply in the EU has improved, demand must be further reduced to ensure sufficient gas storage for next winter,” the countries said.

Why there are so few owners in Germany


In no other country in the EU are there as few homeowners as in Germany. This is due to the high construction costs in this country - but there are also historical reasons.

More than 83 million people live in Germany in an area totaling 357,580 square kilometers. Of these, less than half are owners. According to the European statistics agency Eurostat, in 2022, 47 percent of German households lived in their own four walls, the other almost 53 percent rented.

When an additional payment of almost 2,000 euros is due


District heating is considered the heating of the future. But some tenants are being caught off guard by enormous sums in their annual bill. Are the suppliers claiming more costs than they actually have?

“They gave us a lot of trouble,” says Bettina Böttcher on the phone. She is sitting in her Wedel apartment in Schleswig-Holstein with her neighbor Sabine Plohmann. The two women are angry. Because her last additional payment for additional costs is quite significant: around 1,600 euros for Bettina Böttcher, and almost 2,000 euros for her neighbor, who lives in a larger apartment.

Heating is done remotely with gas. This means Böttcher's total heating costs for 2022 will be around 2,800 euros. She refuses to pay them and has called in the tenants' association.

Gas price at lowest level since July


The price of European natural gas has fallen to its lowest level in more than half a year. Since the beginning of the year, the raw material has become significantly cheaper despite various geopolitical crises.

The price for European natural gas is currently as low as it was last July. The groundbreaking futures contract TTF for delivery in one month on the Amsterdam stock exchange at less than 26 euros per megawatt hour (MWh). The contract temporarily cost 25.82 euros, making it cheaper than it has been since last July.

Disturbances in satellite navigation in the Baltic Sea region


Satellite navigation has become extremely important in everyday life. GPS navigation has been disrupted on a large scale in the Baltic Sea region for some time now. According to experts, this occurs more frequently “in crisis regions”.

Security experts are tracking targeted disruptions to satellite navigation in the Baltic Sea region - right into the German region. "Since December 2023, disruptions to the navigation signals emitted by the satellite navigation system 'Global Positioning System (GPS)' have been sporadically reported from the northeastern area of ​​German airspace," the Federal Ministry of Transport told the dpa news agency upon request.

That's how dependent Germany is on China and Co.


Whether for wind turbines, solar systems or electric cars: Germany needs metallic raw materials to manage the energy transition. Most of these are imported - a dangerous dependency.

Never before has so much green electricity been generated in Germany as last year. According to the Freiburg Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems (ISE), wind power was by far the most important source of electricity in 2023, followed by photovoltaics, biomass and hydropower. Together they supplied 59.6 percent of the electricity mix generated. A record - and also a success for the federal government. But questions arise: How many raw materials does “green electricity” require, where do they come from and will the supplies run out at some point?

Will the gas bill go higher soon?


The Federal Network Agency is planning new fee rules for energy networks in order to promote investments. This could mean higher network fees for gas - and thus rising prices for consumers.

Consumers may have to prepare for slightly higher network charges in their gas bills in a few years. The Federal Network Agency today published a key points paper on the regulation of energy networks, which, among other things, proposes new rules for calculating fees.

German economy is slipping into recession


Crises, wars, slumping consumption: The German economy also shrank in the fourth quarter and is therefore in recession. Can consumers and businesses hope for a recovery in the new year?

Economic performance in Germany fell last year. According to an initial estimate by the Federal Statistical Office in Wiesbaden, the gross domestic product (GDP) fell by 0.3 percent in 2023 compared to the previous year. A year earlier, according to the latest calculations, there had been 1.9 percent growth.

If you compare, you can save


Wholesale prices for electricity and gas have fallen. Nevertheless, it could become more expensive for consumers overall - because of federal political decisions.

First of all, it's good news: energy prices on the world market for electricity and gas have recently fallen. A year ago, energy suppliers had to pay up to 250 euros for a megawatt hour of electricity wholesale, but currently it is only around 100 euros.

The EU has managed to cushion the loss of Russian pipeline gas, for example by building LNG terminals, says Georg Zachmann, who monitors the development of electricity and gas prices in Europe for the Helmholtz Center Berlin and the think tank Bruegel.

Every second construction company complains about a lack of orders


The situation in housing construction is becoming increasingly dire. Recently, almost half of the companies in the industry complained about a lack of orders. The reason is the high construction and financing costs.

Lack of orders, many cancellations and a mood that is worse than ever: the situation in German housing construction is becoming increasingly murky. In November, 49.1 percent of companies complained about a lack of orders, as the Munich ifo Institute announced today. This means that the share has increased for the eighth month in a row - after 48.7 percent in October.

More than one in five companies had to accept order cancellations. The share was 21.5 percent in November, almost as high as the previous month (22.2 percent).

New pollution regulations for industry and farmers


In the future, new, stricter pollution regulations will apply to certain industrial plants and agricultural operations in the EU. They now also affect battery manufacturers and specialist mining operations.

Negotiators from the EU Parliament and the EU Council have agreed on stricter pollution rules. Businesses such as large pig and poultry farms have already been affected by the regulations; in the future, certain mining operations and battery manufacturing facilities will also be subject to the rules. The aim is to better protect people's health and the environment, as the EU states and the European Parliament announced.

Energy price brakes will expire at the end of the year


The state electricity and gas price brakes will expire on December 31st - three months earlier than planned. Finance Minister Lindner announced this. Criticism comes from the SPD and consumer advocates.

As a result of the Constitutional Court's ruling on the budget, the federal government will not extend the billions in state aid through the electricity and gas price caps until the end of March 2024 as planned. They would be “ended at the end of the year,” said Federal Finance Minister Christian Lindner to Deutschlandfunk.

Lindner left it open whether the reduction in network fees would also be eliminated next year. This must be clarified in the budget process for 2024. The federal government had budgeted 5.5 billion euros for this.

The Bundestag only decided on November 16th - one day after the verdict - to extend the brakes until March 31st.

The EU Commission is not advertising on X for the time being


The EU Commission is stopping its paid advertising campaigns on Platform X due to misleading content about the Gaza war. IBM had previously stopped its advertising presence on X.

The EU Commission initially no longer wants to place advertising on the social network due to misleading and incorrect content about the Gaza war on the online platform X (formerly Twitter). A spokesman for the EU Commission confirmed this today. The authority justified the move with an alarming increase in disinformation and hate speech.

However, the Commission will continue to be present on the platform, it was said today. The EU Commission has a number of user accounts on X that it uses for public communication about its work. This step is explicitly about paid advertising campaigns. The authority did not disclose how much money the commission spends on advertising on X and other social networks.

Why inflation is so persistent


Recently, prices have risen much more slowly than last year. But on the way to the goal of two percent inflation, consumers and the economy could still experience some setbacks.

Reducing inflation works a bit like bowling: at first it's child's play to make the bowling pins fall over, but the next hit becomes more and more tedious, the less it stands. The nervousness increases. What requires the most skill is to catch that one last steadfast pin so that all nines are finally cleared.

Industry continues to reduce production


Production by German companies fell in September for the fourth time in a row - and more significantly than expected. Some economists are talking about another disappointment and are expecting a recession.

The weakness of German industry continues. Production fell in September for the fourth time in a row and fell by 1.4 percent compared to the previous month, the Federal Statistical Office said. The decline is the largest since March and significantly sharper than expected: analysts had only expected a decline of 0.1 percent on average. In the entire third quarter, industry, construction and energy suppliers together produced 2.1 percent less.

How expensive will heating be this winter?


Energy costs are also expected to rise next winter - although the government's price cap is set to apply until April. What will happen to households?

Electricity for a maximum of 40 cents per kilowatt hour, natural gas for a maximum of 12 cents per kilowatt hour: With these price brakes, the federal government tried to relieve citizens of energy prices last winter.

Thomas Engelke from the Federal Association of Consumer Organizations draws a positive interim conclusion: "That was very good. Because back then no one knew where gas and electricity prices would climb. They were at record highs at the time. That's why consumers were protected back then."

What the digital euro should bring


The European Central Bank gives the green light for the next steps towards a digital euro. But before he comes, there are still many questions unanswered. Criticism also comes from the banking associations.

The European Central Bank (ECB) has been weighing up whether it wants to introduce the digital euro for two years. Now she has announced that she wants to go into the so-called preparation phase. This is also scheduled for another two years. During this time, according to the ECB, the foundation stone should be laid for the possible introduction of the digital euro. Among other things, “the set of rules should be finalized and providers selected for the development of the platform and infrastructure,” the central bankers said.

From the perspective of ECB boss Lagarde, we must “prepare our currency for the future.” She continued: "We see a digital euro as a digital form of cash with which all digital payments can be made free of charge and which meets the highest data protection standards."

Heating with Rhine water


Since this week, around 3,500 households in Mannheim have been able to obtain their heat from the Rhine without emissions. Germany's largest river heat pump could become a model for many municipal heating networks.

At first glance, the new river heat pump cannot be recognized at all. While the technological innovation is hidden in a simple gray industrial hall, the four blocks of the large Mannheim power plant are spiraling up around it. Electricity and heat are still generated here in the south of Mannheim primarily through the combustion of hard coal. That should change by the end of the decade.

When will energy suppliers relieve their gas customers?


As of this week, energy suppliers no longer pay a gas levy. But when do households benefit from this? Consumer Minister Lemke demands that companies pass on the relief directly.

Consumer Minister Steffi Lemke has called on gas suppliers to pass on the relief from the abolition of gas levies directly to customers. “Even if natural gas prices for consumers no longer reach the peak values ​​of the crisis year of 2022, they will still remain at a high long-term level,” said the Green politician to the dpa news agency. "With the elimination of two surcharges, the procurement of gas will now be cheaper for gas suppliers."

Energy prices for consumers are rising again


Households in Germany have had to pay almost four percent more energy costs since June. This is mainly due to the more expensive heating oil. The prices for natural gas and electricity rose in the first half of the year.

Since the summer, consumers have had to dig deeper into their pockets for heating, electricity and mobility. In September, a model household had to spend an average of 5,795 euros for its annual energy costs, as the comparison portal Check24 calculated. In June the costs were still 5,579 euros. Since then they have risen by almost four percent.

More than one in three people drop out of training


Hundreds of thousands of new heat pumps are expected to be installed every year. But who should install them? There is a shortage of skilled workers - and many apprentices drop out of the required training to become plant mechanics.

His trainee is no longer coming. Dennis Spindler from DSelemente Technik in Wiesbaden doesn't know why this is the case. Finding trainees in a city is not the problem; He received around 15 applications. But how many actually stick with it is another matter. “In principle, the level and motivation have decreased,” says Spindler. "The willingness to get dirty has diminished."

Traffic lights disagree about gas VAT


Finance Minister Lindner apparently wants to restore VAT on gas to its original level. The SPD is against it, the Greens are hesitant. It's about billions for the budget and high bills for customers.

There are apparently differences of opinion within the government over whether VAT on gas should be increased earlier than originally planned. According to the “Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung” (FAZ), Finance Minister Christian Lindner brought exactly this measure into play.

Because of the suddenly extremely high prices after the Russian attack on Ukraine, the federal government gave gas and district heating tax breaks on October 1, 2022. Originally, the lower VAT rate of seven instead of 19 percent was supposed to apply until the end of March 2024. Because of the lower gas prices, Lindner wants the relief measure to expire at the turn of the year, the “FAZ” reported.

What rules will apply to heating in the future


The details of the controversial heating law had been discussed for a long time. Now it has been decided. What does this mean for owners and tenants? What does the funding look like? An overview.

After months of debate, the controversial heating law was passed in the Bundestag today. For a long time, the details caused disputes within the traffic light coalition and unsettled parts of the population. clarifies the most important points.

Countries want to advertise to the EU for industrial electricity prices


The federal states are concerned about Germany as a business location and want to promote the possibility of an industrial electricity price in the EU. The state leaders must also overcome skepticism at the federal level.

The Prime Ministers' Conference apparently wants to campaign for the EU Commission to be allowed to introduce an industrial electricity price at national level. In a "Brussels Declaration", which is available to the NDR, the heads of government of the 16 federal states describe it as an "acute obstacle to the recovery of the economy". The "Handelsblatt" reported about it first.

"It must therefore be possible for the Member States for a transitional period to establish a competitive bridge electricity price, especially for energy-intensive companies that are in international competition, until affordable renewable energies are available to a sufficient extent," the newspaper quoted from the paper, which accordingly to be published in the coming days.

Fluorescent tubes are banned


An exemption for the sale of mercury-containing fluorescent tubes expires in the EU today. Anyone who still uses them should think about alternatives.

The EU derogation for the sale of fluorescent tubes containing mercury ends today, Thursday. According to the EU Commission, lamps of the T5 and T8 type may only be sold over the counter in the future if they come from stocks that have already been produced. The only exceptions are lamps for special purposes, for example in the military sector.

"Suitable alternatives are now available for T5 and T8 tubes, which can lead both to energy savings and to dispensing with the placing on the market of fluorescent lamps containing mercury," said a spokeswoman for the EU Commission. That is why it was decided to let the exemption for these products expire. However, use is still allowed.

Market for pellet heating systems and wood-burning stoves collapsed


According to the industry, the run on stoves and pellet heating systems is over for the time being. In terms of climate, that's not bad. At the same time, however, the demand for fossil heating systems is increasing.

According to industry reports, the demand for pellet heating systems has decreased significantly. "In some cases, the market has collapsed completely," says Anna Katharina Sievers from the German Energy Wood and Pellet Association and the German Pellet Institute. "As things stand at present, our sales forecast for 2023 will not be achieved." This assumes around 744,000 pellet boilers and stoves.

The picture is similar for the fairly quickly installed and comparatively cheap stoves. According to experts, they were a "safety anchor" for some consumers during the past heating season, but sales figures have fallen this year.

The "sick man of Europe" again?


While other countries are growing, the German economy is not progressing. Companies complain about high energy prices, bureaucracy and a lack of skilled workers. What are the reasons for the economic crisis? An overview.

At the turn of the millennium, the British business magazine The Economist called Germany the "sick man" of the European currency area. At that time, the Federal Republic was economically left behind by its neighbors. Only with reforms of the labor market and the social system did an economic catch-up race begin - and the German economy was praised by the same magazine. Does history repeat itself?

A lot of important economic data in Germany is pointing downwards, there is a lack of economic dynamism, while other industrialized countries are growing again. Some speak again of the "sick man of Europe". How is the German economy doing at the moment? And which weaknesses are currently becoming apparent?

Balance between security and innovation


The EU has been calling for better protection of 5G mobile networks for some time. Vodafone is now warning that a hasty abandonment of Chinese mobile phone technology could damage the networks in the long term.

The market power of tech giants raises concerns. In view of the debate about the use of mobile communications technology from Chinese providers such as Huawei and ZTE, the EU Commission called on its member states in June to better protect their 5G mobile communications networks from providers they considered to be risky.

While the EU has already managed to reduce dependencies in other sectors, such as the energy sector, in record time, EU Internal Market Commissioner Thierry Breton made it clear: "It should be no different with 5G: we cannot afford to maintain critical dependencies that become a 'weapon' against our interests." But what would be the consequences of such an exclusion?

Europe's banks are better equipped for crises


Every year European banks are tested for their resilience. Overall, this year's results are better than last year's. German banks proved to be more robust and are still lagging behind.

Overall, Europe's banks are resilient enough to weather another severe economic crisis. This emerges from the results of the most recent Europe-wide bank stress test by the European Banking Authority (EBA). A total of 70 institutes from 15 EU countries were tested, plus the largest Norwegian bank DNB. 57 of the 70 institutions in the EBA stress test are banks from the euro area.

Accordingly, in the event of the simulated economic slump coupled with various other stress factors, the common equity Tier 1 capital ratio of the financial institutions would fall from 15 percent at the end of 2022 to 10.4 percent at the end of 2025. The economic slump assumed in the current test was the strongest so far, it said.

Improvement of EU debt rules called for


More and more EU countries are getting into debt. That is why calls from economists for improvements to the EU deficit rules are getting louder.

In view of the rising national debts of many members of the EU, there are increasing calls for improvements to the current debt rules. Ifo President Clemens Fuest criticizes the planned easing of deficit rules for countries whose spending matches the political priorities of the EU. Such an easing of debt could conflict with the goal of a more sustainable budgetary policy, the economist explained in the EconPol Forum.

On the other hand, Fuest welcomes the proposal to automatically initiate proceedings against countries that do not comply with the debt rules. The so-called Maastricht criteria allow the EU member states to borrow up to a maximum of three percent of their gross domestic product each year, but overall with a maximum of 60 percent of economic output.

Consumer advocates warn of new gas heating


From the point of view of the consumer advice centers, there is a risk of a cost trap when investing in new gas heating systems. CO2 prices are expected to continue to rise as early as next year. In addition, the installation has become massively more expensive.

The Federal Association of Consumer Centers (VZBV) strongly advises against installing a new gas heating system in a house or apartment. The head of the association, Ramona Pop, told the "Rheinische Post" that the installation of such a heating system can now only be warned. "Gas and oil prices will rise as the carbon price of fossil fuels increases year on year."

Boost expected for EU trade with New Zealand


The EU has signed a free trade agreement with New Zealand. Both sides hope that the elimination of tariffs will increase trade by 30 percent. Investments are expected to increase even more.

After years of negotiations, representatives of New Zealand and the EU have signed a free trade agreement. It is scheduled to come into force in 2024. EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said at the signing in Brussels that trade between the two partners could increase by an estimated 30 percent as a result of the agreement. EU investment in New Zealand could increase by up to 80 percent, said EU Commission Vice-President Valdis Dombrovskis. Brussels is hoping for growth of up to 4.5 billion euros per year in exports from the EU countries to New Zealand alone.

Inflation in the euro zone weakens significantly


Inflation in the euro zone has once again eased significantly thanks to falling energy prices. In June, consumer prices rose by 5.5 percent year-on-year, according to an initial estimate from the statistics office Eurostat.

Inflation in the euro zone also fell significantly in June. Consumer prices increased by 5.5 percent compared to the previous year, after 6.1 percent in the previous month, as the statistics office Eurostat announced today in Luxembourg. It is the lowest inflation rate since the beginning of 2022. Economists had expected a slightly higher rate of 5.6 percent. Last year, inflation was at times in the double digits as a result of the war against Ukraine.

Strong west-east divide in electric cars


The recovery on the EU car market continues, new registrations of electric cars are growing rapidly. But the differences within the EU are massive: In the east and south-east of the EU, e-cars only play a minor role.

The EU new car market continued to grow strongly in May. According to the industry association ACEA, new registrations rose by 18.5 percent to almost one million units last month compared to the same month last year. It was the tenth plus in a row. Above all, the car markets in Italy, Germany and France picked up noticeably. But there is still a huge gap compared to the pre-crisis level: compared to May 2019, there is an EU-wide minus of 23 percent.

Pay by card - soon without Maestro


The Maestro logo used to belong to the Girocard, the former EC card. Maestro is now gradually being converted to the international payment system of Mastercard and Visa. What to consider.

Some customers of German banks and savings banks are unsettled. Because from July 1st, the usual Maestro logo will no longer be emblazoned on the front of many new giro cards - the former EC cards. Oliver Hommel from Euro Kartensysteme in Frankfurt, the joint venture of the German banks and savings banks that takes care of the possible uses of the Girocard throughout Europe, sees no reason to get excited: "The existing cards remain valid until the expiry date and can continue to be used."

The German Girocard has never worked abroad: it was and is dependent on an additional function. So far, Mastercard has made this feature possible with the Maestro system. The fact that the Maestro system will gradually no longer be used from July 1 is a decision made by the Mastercard company, not one of the German banks and savings banks. The US payment service provider is unifying its international business.

EU gives green light to chip promotion


Europe wants to become more independent of China and the USA in the production of microelectronics and chips. Now the EU has approved an enormous subsidy program - German companies are also benefiting from this.

In order to become less dependent on the USA and China for the development of microelectronics and chips, the EU Commission has approved a multi-billion dollar subsidy program. According to EU Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager, this should make dozens of projects possible.

Vestager called microchips "the backbone of the economy". Europe must increase its own capabilities here. We have to be pioneers," she explained.

Why more district heating is possible


The district heating industry believes it is possible for the number of households connected to the heating network to triple by 2050. But what exactly is district heating - and how should it become climate-neutral in the future?

District heating is a form of heat supply in which the heat is not generated on site in the building, but comes from a central power or heating plant nearby. Water is heated and transported to consumers via insulated pipes. In the buildings, the heat is then fed into the heat cycle via a transfer station to provide space heating and hot water. Independent heating systems in the buildings are not required.

Why Germany is lagging behind in terms of growth


While Germany has slipped into recession, the economy is doing better elsewhere in Europe. Some EU countries even grew in the first quarter. What are the reasons?

The fact that Germany slipped into recession in the winter half-year made it particularly clear once again: In terms of economic development, the Federal Republic is lagging behind in an international comparison. In the other large member states of the European Union, economic output increased in the first quarter of 2023.

In Spain and Italy, the price-, seasonally and calendar-adjusted gross domestic product (GDP) increased the most with an increase of 0.5 percent compared to the previous quarter. In France it increased at least slightly by 0.2 percent, as did the GDP in the European Union as a whole.

"Germany slept through the transformation"


The federal government's draft law on climate-friendly heating has caused quite a stir. False reports are also circulating - for example, all oil and gas heating systems will have to be replaced in the coming year.

"Completely insane regulations, compulsory purchase of heat pumps, de facto ban on oil and gas heating: All of this inevitably leads to the impoverishment of the middle class because people simply can no longer afford it," tweeted AfD co-chairman Alice Weidel at the end of April . The reason for the excitement: The draft amendment to the Federal Government's Building Energy Act (GEG), written under the leadership of the Ministry of Construction (BMWSB) and the Ministry of Economic Affairs (BMWK). But what is the truth of the points of contention?

Why gas prices are falling


According to experts, there are several reasons that contributed to the fall in gas prices. In particular, well-filled natural gas storage facilities played an important role, since they were able to successfully balance out fluctuations in gas consumption. The mild weather also played a role.

Savings in industry, commerce, power plants and households have also contributed to a noticeable drop in gas prices. Together, these factors led to a significant reduction in both wholesale market and end-consumer prices.

When medium-sized companies move abroad


Excessive bureaucracy, expensive energy - and hardly any skilled workers: Germany is a source of concern for many companies. More and more medium-sized companies are therefore investing elsewhere.

According to information from the association "Der Mittelstand BVMW", one in four medium-sized entrepreneurs is considering relocating production abroad. The growing dissatisfaction with Germany as a business location is mainly due to the high energy costs, the lack of skilled workers and a constantly growing bureaucracy.

After the large corporations, the alarming trend has now also reached small and medium-sized companies. The consequences will only become noticeable in Germany in a few years. Association spokesman Hans-Jürgen Völz speaks of a gradual process that will lead to the loss of jobs, growth and prosperity in the medium term.

How are Europe's countries doing?


First the financial and debt crisis, then the corona crisis and the energy crisis. What is the financial and economic situation in the EU countries? shows an overview of the growth figures, deficits, debt and inflation rates of the 27 countries.

Heating industry is missing 60,000 installers


The plumbers could have a lot of work to do with the traffic light's plans to modernize heating systems. However, there is a lack of these in the industry - a total of around 60,000 skilled workers are currently missing.

According to estimates by the Central Association for Sanitary, Heating and Air Conditioning, there is currently a shortage of around 60,000 heating installers in Germany. This figure is obtained if you want to serve all markets and not just concentrate on installing new heating systems, said General Manager Helmut Bramann to the newspapers of the Funke media group.

So far, the plumbing and heating companies have modernized around 900,000 heating systems every year and rebuilt around 1.2 million bathrooms. "Accessibility in the bathroom for an aging society - the demand here will increase significantly in the next few years," explained Bramann. According to estimates by the central association, almost 400,000 people were employed in this trade last year.

It doesn't always have to be a heat pump


Many homeowners want to replace their old heaters. However, the currently popular heat pumps are not suitable for all houses. What alternatives are there and how worthwhile are they?

A year ago, Wolfgang Winkler made a decision: He wants to convert his house near Leipzig to renewable energies. "The goal was to do justice to the zeitgeist and to face the challenge that our world cannot go on like this. We have to do something," he says.

A little later he has solar cells on the roof. Things should continue in the basement, the gas heating, built in 1996, should go. Winkler opts for a new heat pump.

Why heating with hydrogen is difficult


From 2024, 65 percent of new heating systems are to be operated with renewable energies. One option is to use "green" hydrogen instead of gas. According to experts, there are a few snags in practice.

Hydrogen is considered a beacon of hope for becoming independent of natural gas in the future. In the search for alternatives to natural gas heating in German boiler rooms, hydrogen is repeatedly mentioned. The idea: converting gas heaters to hydrogen. Is that a realistic alternative? "To put it bluntly: no," says energy expert Benjamin Pfluger from the Fraunhofer Institute for Energy Infrastructure and Geothermal Energy. "The judgment of almost all scientific studies is unanimous: Too inefficient, available too late and most likely much too expensive."

Euro core inflation at record level


Thanks to falling energy prices, inflation in the euro zone has eased significantly to 6.9 percent. But that's not yet a reason for the all-clear. Because the so-called core inflation rises to a record level.

Inflation in the euro zone has weakened significantly thanks to declining energy prices. In March, consumer prices rose by just 6.9 percent year-on-year, according to an initial estimate from the statistics office Eurostat.

Economists had expected a less significant drop in the inflation rate. They forecast a rate of 7.1 percent for March. Inflation has fallen below the seven percent mark for the first time since February 2022. In October it had reached a record value of 10.7 percent.

Central banks focus on inflation


After the ECB and the Fed, the Swiss National Bank, the Bank of England and the Norwegian central bank are also raising interest rates. Despite market turbulence and the banking crisis, inflation remains in focus.

This week's central bank decisions leave no doubt that, despite the banking crisis, monetary policy is primarily focused on combating inflation. In the morning, the Swiss National Bank SNB raised the key interest rate by a significant 0.5 percentage points to 1.5 percent. Around noon, the Bank of England followed suit with a quarter-point hike in interest rates to 4.25 percent.

And yesterday the US Federal Reserve (Fed) raised its interest rate by a quarter of a percentage point to the new range of 4.75 to 5.0 percent. The aim of these measures by the central banks is also to strengthen the markets' confidence in the stability of the financial system.

A waiver of interest rate increases could have been taken by the market players as a signal that the situation on the financial markets is more serious than expected, despite all statements to the contrary.

Challenging times for heating engineers


The heating industry relies primarily on the heat pump in the course of conversions. However, industry experts are skeptical that six million heat pumps can be installed in Germany by 2030.

Mario Schunk is in a hurry. He is on his way to a customer early in the morning. Schunk runs a heating and air conditioning company in Neuwied, Rhineland-Palatinate. "The debate about the future of oil and gas heating has fueled business again. People are completely unsettled," says the 46-year-old master heating engineer as he makes his way to the village of Nauroth.

Many countries more attractive for skilled workers


According to a study, Germany is falling behind in the international competition for highly qualified specialists and start-up founders. The local universities, on the other hand, are considered to be very popular.

According to a study, Germany is losing popularity in the global competition for skilled workers and company founders. According to an evaluation by the Bertelsmann Foundation, Germany has fallen from 12th to 15th place among the 38 countries in the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) since 2019.

The study evaluated the OECD Index "Indicators of Talent Attractiveness", which includes various factors that are important for skilled migrants. It was about professional opportunities, income and taxes, future prospects, opportunities for family members or visas.

Ban on new oil heating systems planned from 2024


The installation of new gas and oil heating systems could be gradually banned from 2024 - earlier than planned. According to media reports, this emerges from a draft law. There is criticism not only in the coalition.

In order to promote climate protection in the building sector as well, according to media reports, the Ministry of Economic Affairs and the Ministry of Construction are working on a draft law for the gradual ban of gas and oil heating from 2024. According to the ministry, however, the draft is not yet final.

For many consumers, this would mean that they will have to look for an alternative over the next few years and may even have to completely modernize their heating system.

Heat pumps - but which ones?


Many homeowners want to have a heat pump installed. Six million units should be online in Germany by 2030. But is there enough electricity? It also depends on how efficient the pumps are.

Christian Lex and his colleagues are currently installing a new heat pump in Heidelberg. The company installs around 40 units a year, he says. But he gets around 15 inquiries from new customers every week. The demand is huge, and "due to the current energy crisis it has experienced a real boom".

Why there is confusion about heating


Pure gas and oil heating systems should no longer be allowed to be installed from 2024. The traffic light coalition had agreed on this. A legal regulation is still missing. Uncertainty is not only growing among consumers.

Against the background of the Ukraine war and the aggravated energy crisis, the switch to renewable energies in Germany should be accelerated. In the summer, the coalition committee of the SPD, FDP and Greens approved a concept paper with significantly stricter specifications for new heating systems.

According to this, newly commissioned heating systems are to be operated with at least 65 percent renewable energies from January 1, 2024. This regulation does not apply to existing heating systems - however, the permissible service life of purely fossil-based heating systems is to be gradually reduced to twenty years.

Record sales of e-cars


More electric cars than ever before were sold in Europe last year. Combustion engines still predominate, but the market for e-cars is growing continuously. What are the prospects for 2023?

Battery-powered vehicles achieved a market share of twelve percent when it came to new registrations in the EU last year. The proportion of purely electric cars rose by three percentage points to its highest level so far. Plug-in hybrids accounted for almost 23 percent, as the European industry association Acea announced today. Combustion engines still account for the largest share in car drives.

ECB raises key interest rate to 3 percent


In the eurozone, inflation has recently fallen. However, the ECB is a long way from its inflation target. Europe's currency watchdogs have therefore raised the key interest rate again by 0.5 percentage points - and announced the next increase.

In order to curb the high inflation in the euro area, the European Central Bank (ECB) decided to raise interest rates again. The key interest rate in the euro zone will rise by 0.5 percentage points to 3 percent, the currency watchdogs announced this today after their monetary policy meeting in Frankfurt. It is the fifth rise in interest rates in a row. The central bank last hiked interest rates by 0.5 percentage points in December. The interest rate in the euro zone has thus risen to its highest level since the end of 2008.

Who benefits from the upward trend in the euro


The euro is trading at its highest level against the dollar since April 2022. And there seems to be no end to the trend in sight. The resurgent euro is good news, at least for consumers.

The European common currency will celebrate a small renaissance in 2023. It's not even that long ago that one euro paid less than one dollar. In September last year, the European single currency marked its lowest level in 20 years at $0.9538.

It remained below dollar parity until the beginning of November. Since then, however, the euro has been able to catch up. The day before, the euro rose to $ 1.0929, the highest it has been since April 2022. Starting from the September low, this corresponds to an increase of more than 14 percent.

Producer prices are falling slowly


Producer prices fell for the third time in a row compared to the previous month. The development gives experts hope that the inflation dynamic could also weaken.

There are increasing signs that the high inflation in Germany is easing: Manufacturers lowered their prices in December for the third month in a row. The producer prices for commercial products fell by an average of 0.4 percent in December 2022 compared to November 2022, as reported by the Federal Statistical Office.

"It looks more and more as if the inflation peak is behind us," said chief economist Alexander Krüger from the Hauck Aufhäuser Lampe private bank. "Producer prices continue to send the signal of decreasing price pressures," he commented. This increases confidence that consumer prices will soon fall.

Location Germany increasingly unattractive


According to a study by the Center for European Economic Research (ZEW), Germany is losing competitiveness compared to 20 other leading economic nations. In the new "Country Index for Family Businesses" the Federal Republic occupies 18th place among the 21 countries. In 2020, Germany was still in 14th place. It is the ninth edition of the biennial analysis commissioned by the Foundation for Family Businesses. The top of the ranking is the USA, behind Germany are only Hungary, Spain and Italy.

According to the study, Germany can hardly keep up with top locations in North America, Western Europe and Scandinavia. "While other countries are investing in infrastructure or reforming their tax systems, Germany is making no progress. The only clear asset is the comparatively low level of public and private debt."

Inflation in the euro area continues to fall


Inflation in the eurozone eased further towards the end of the year. Consumer prices rose by 9.2 percent, less than expected. The core inflation rate, on the other hand, increased.

Inflation in the eurozone eased more than expected in December. Consumer prices rose by 9.2 percent compared to the same month last year, according to an initial estimate from the statistics office Eurostat. Economists had expected an average rate of 9.5 percent in December. In November, the inflation rate was still 10.1 percent.

Why the gas price is falling


European trading prices for natural gas continue to relax. What can the recently agreed EU gas price cap do - and what are the prospects for the supply situation?

There is good news coming from the Dutch energy exchange these days: the gas price is falling. On Wednesday, the futures contract TTF, which is trend-setting for European gas trading, fell at times by more than eight percent to less than 100 euros per megawatt hour. Today, the contract for delivery in January was even quoted at less than 91 euros.

Inexpensive - or rather safe?


After months of dispute, the EU energy ministers want to agree today on a Europe-wide gas price cap. Germany is hoping for the highest possible upper limit in order to minimize the risk of a supply gap.

In the meantime, it seems more or less a foregone conclusion that the European Union will introduce a gas price cap for all member countries - a politically fixed maximum price, so to speak, that people in the EU are willing to pay for natural gas and liquefied natural gas. In practice, this means that if gas suppliers on the world market demand more than this maximum price, i.e. ignore this price cap, then nobody in the EU is allowed to buy this gas.

EU tightens action against China at WTO


The EU is moving ahead with its proceedings against China before the World Trade Organization. It's about patent protection for European high-tech companies and Chinese trade restrictions against Lithuania. In the end there could be punitive tariffs.

The EU is stepping up its crackdown on China at the World Trade Organization (WTO). The EU Commission called on the WTO to set up two so-called panels, i.e. dispute settlement bodies. The background is, on the one hand, China's attempts to prevent European high-tech companies from enforcing their patent rights. On the other hand, it is about trade restrictions that Beijing issued after a diplomatic dispute against the EU country Lithuania.

In both cases, the Chinese measures are "extremely damaging" for European companies, the EU Commission said. It is in the economic and strategic interest of the EU for the measures to be lifted.

A quarter less gas demand


Although temperatures have recently fallen significantly, the EU demanded significantly less natural gas in November than in previous years. Saving efforts and the search for alternative energy sources are evidently having an effect.

The member states of the European Union significantly reduced their demand for natural gas in November, despite the recent wintry temperatures. Preliminary data from the commodities analysts ICIS show that gas demand in the EU countries last month was around 24 percent below a five-year average, as it was in October. This is reported by the "Financial Times".

"The Estonians are resilient"


Estonia is suffering from record inflation of more than 20 percent. But the attitude of many people in the country is characterized by perseverance - and solidarity with the Ukrainians.

Maarja Tinn's family doesn't let the fun be taken away from them. When she prepares the food in the kitchen with her husband Aron and their three children, there is a lot of laughter. Four-year-old Teodor is just allowed to prepare the omelette. The family used to like to order something for lunch. But meanwhile the family coffers have become emptier, says Maarja. They even notice that with the omelette. Because the prices in Estonia have skyrocketed.

EU Commission expects recession


In view of the consequences of the Ukraine war, the EU Commission assumes only minimal economic growth in the euro zone for 2023. At the end of the year, she even expects a recession.

Because of the energy crisis resulting from the Ukraine war, the EU Commission is anticipating hardly any economic growth in the coming year - albeit with lower inflation than last time. The gross domestic product (GDP) in the euro area is only likely to increase by 0.3 percent in 2023, the Brussels authorities announced today in their autumn economic forecast. In the summer, the EU had estimated 1.4 percent.

For the final quarter of 2022, the Commission even assumes that the euro zone and most of its members will slip into recession. GDP is likely to continue shrinking in early 2023. An economy is in what is known as a technical recession when GDP falls for two consecutive quarters.

Protection against dismissal and emergency aid


The report presented by the "Gas and Heat Expert Commission" proposes, among other things, protection against dismissal for tenants and an emergency aid fund for the needy. Saving energy should be rewarded.

The "Gas and Heat Expert Commission" set up by the federal government presented a 34-page report in Berlin to relieve companies and private households. The proposals are intended to help compensate for the rising energy bills in 2022 and to bridge the time until the planned introduction of the gas price brake next spring. The main focus is on protection against evictions for tenants and emergency aid funds for needy households.

What are the consequences of the combustion engine shutdown?


From 2035, only zero-emission vehicles will be registered in the EU. What does the decision mean for drivers and what happens to the combustion engines? Answers to the most important questions.

The EU member states and the European Parliament have reached an agreement: From the year 2035, only climate-neutral vehicles should be registered. New petrol and diesel cars that emit greenhouse gases can then no longer be sold.

After the environment ministers had already committed themselves to this in June, a final agreement was reached within the EU yesterday. The negotiators agreed that the so-called fleet limits for cars should drop to zero by 2035. They tell car manufacturers how much CO2 the vehicles they produce are allowed to emit during operation.

Germany falls behind when it comes to saving gas


According to figures from the European Commission, Germany has recently made slower progress than other EU countries in saving natural gas. The voluntary target to reduce consumption was missed in September.

In a European comparison, Germany has recently saved proportionately less gas than other countries. Although the Federal Republic consumed 28 percent less natural gas in August - compared to the average of the last five years in the month. However, according to data from the EU Commission, consumption in September was only 7.4 percent lower. By contrast, Sweden more than halved its gas consumption in both months. The Netherlands used 28.9 and 32.2 percent less gas, respectively.

The Baltic States, Luxembourg, Romania and Finland also saved proportionally more. Across the European Union, consumption fell by 14 percent in August and by 15 percent in September.

Difficult to understand district heating prices


Although district heating providers are legally obliged to do so, almost one in five providers does not publish any prices on the Internet. Consumer advocates are calling for a tougher approach to the industry.

The text in the District Heating Ordinance is unequivocal: the utility companies must "publish all price regulations, price adjustment clauses and price components in an accessible manner on the Internet". Actually a matter of course, after all, every gas and electricity customer can quickly find out about current prices with a mouse click. However, the district heating industry still seems to have a lot of catching up to do. This is shown by an extensive sample from the Federal Association of Consumer Organizations (vzbv), which is available to HR.

World trade is growing faster than expected


Despite many disruptive factors, the World Trade Organization (WTO) has increased its forecast for world trade this year. German export figures are also increasing. By 2023 at the latest, however, this should look different.

Cooling economy, rising interest rates and the energy crisis as a result of the Ukraine war: Despite numerous shock waves, world trade is growing surprisingly faster this year than assumed in spring. The World Trade Organization (WTO) now expects growth in the volume of goods trade of 3.5 percent for 2022, as it reported today in Geneva. In her forecast in April, she had only assumed 3.0 percent.

Inflation in the euro area at ten percent


Inflation is at its highest level in the euro area. In September, the inflation rate rose to 10.0 percent for the first time since the introduction of the euro. The main reason for this is the ever-increasing energy prices.

For the first time, the inflation rate in the euro area has reached a double-digit value. Driven by a sustained surge in energy prices, consumer prices in September were 10.0 percent higher than a year ago, according to an initial estimate from the European statistics office Eurostat.

This is the highest level of inflation since the introduction of the euro. Analysts had expected an inflation rate of 9.7 percent. In August, the inflation rate was still 9.1 percent. That too was a record.

The highest inflation rates within the euro zone were recorded in the three Baltic states in September, where consumer prices were more than 20 percent higher than a year ago. For Germany, Eurostat gave the inflation rate at 10.9 percent - due to a different calculation method , the value is higher than the inflation rate of 10.0 percent given yesterday by the Federal Statistical Office .

Where inflation is highest


There has never been nearly eight percent inflation since reunification. Compared to other countries, however, Germany is not in such a bad position. An overview of the global leaders.

Prices are rising almost everywhere in the world. The global inflation rate for the current year is estimated at an average of 7.7 percent, according to the Economic Experts Survey (EES). According to the survey by the Ifo Institute and the Institute for Swiss Economic Policy with participants from over 100 countries, the expected inflation is around five percentage points above the average rate reported by the World Bank over the past decade. However, there are sometimes significant regional differences in inflation. Some states are even struggling with three-digit rates. Where are the prices particularly high? And what are the reasons for this?

Car market in Europe is growing again


After more than a year, the number of car registrations in the European Union is increasing again. In August, 4.4 percent more new cars were registered than in the previous year.

For the first time in 13 months, car manufacturers in the EU delivered more new cars in August than a year ago. Around 650,000 new cars were registered last month, an increase of 4.4 percent, the European manufacturers' association ACEA announced today. As recently as July, the number of passenger cars had declined by 10.4 percent, despite the already low comparative period.

Skim off "random profits" - but how?


Because of the high gas prices, most energy producers are currently making a lot of money. Politicians want to collect these extra profits. But how is that supposed to work in practice? And where are the pitfalls?

Italy, Spain, Hungary and Great Britain have pushed ahead: they are already limiting the extra profits of the energy sector in different ways. Now Germany and the other EU countries want to follow suit: At their meeting on Friday, the energy ministers of the EU countries approved a profit cap for electricity producers . The EU Commission is to present concrete proposals by mid-September.

All registers against high prices


Saving energy is the order of the day, and many countries in Europe have introduced savings measures. But the EU Commission wants a uniform approach. What could that look like?

From 7 p.m. the lights in Brussels' public buildings are to go out, and heating is allowed to a maximum of 19 degrees. These were the Belgian government's proposals this week to reduce electricity consumption.

How to proceed with heating


The federal government is planning much stricter rules for heating replacement: From 2024, every new heating system should be operated with 65 percent renewable energy. What does this mean for property owners?

In the Franconian city of Bamberg, an entire district is being developed - 100-year-old buildings next to new buildings. The special thing about this district in Bamberg is the heating concept, says Michael Fiedeldey, Managing Director of Stadtwerke Bamberg, and Federal Minister for Building, Klara Geywitz. The SPD politician recently visited the construction project.

"We're able to generate between 70 and 80 percent of the energy that this heterogeneous district needs here from renewable sources. That's exemplary," says Fiedeldey. In the new heating concept, he relies primarily on large heat pumps. For example, they use the heat from the Bamberg sewage network. In addition, large geothermal collectors are distributed throughout the site. These are tubes in the ground that collect the heat there for the heat pump.

Who makes the heat pumps?


In the next few years, millions of heat pumps are to be installed in Germany. Who are the manufacturers in the market? And how can you meet the high demand?

According to the ambitious goal of the Ministry of Economics, there should be six million heat pumps in Germany by 2030. According to the Federal Heat Pump Association, only 154,000 heating heat pumps were sold nationwide last year - that was still 28 percent more than in 2020. The figures for the current year are likely to be significantly higher.

In order to achieve the goal, all manufacturers have to increase their production capacities significantly. Just four years ago, the global size of the heat pump market was almost 55 billion dollars. Depending on the estimate, it could swell to $95 billion to $100 billion by 2026.

There are currently a large number of heat pump manufacturers in Germany. The best known and largest include Bosch Thermotechnik, Stiebel Eltron, Vaillant and Viessmann. But there are also many smaller and less well-known companies that build heat pumps.

Other EU countries are leading the way


Many energy companies are benefiting from the current high prices. Some EU countries such as Spain or Belgium are therefore introducing excess profit tax for corporations. In Germany, there is still a heated debate about this.

These figures speak for themselves: the big energy companies have been able to boost their profits sharply in recent months - BP 's net profit has tripled, as have oil giants Chevron and Exxon; others have doubled their plus. The Ukraine war and the ever-scarcer supply of energy around the world are evidently allowing such companies to see their income spurt all over the world.

Associations warn against heating with fan heaters


Gas is getting more and more expensive. So heat the apartment next winter with electrically powered heaters instead? Not a good idea, say consumer advocates - and warn of cost traps and overloaded power grids.

Despite the gas crisis, consumers should not switch to electric fan heaters in winter - despite the high gas prices, it is by no means financially worthwhile, warn consumer advocates, the Federal Network Agency and the energy industry.

"You don't save money with fan heaters, on the contrary, you drive up the electricity bill," said Ramona Pop, chairwoman of the Federal Association of Consumer Centers, to the editorial network Germany.

How the EU countries should save gas


Market instruments and regulation of the temperature in public buildings: In preparation for a possible gas crisis, the EU Commission presented its gas emergency plan today. An overview.

Concerned about a possible gas shortage in autumn or winter, the EU Commission has officially proposed its European Gas Contingency Plan to reduce gas demand . It contains a number of measures that could be used to react to a complete stop in supplies from Russia to the European Union. Commission President Ursula von der Leyen thinks such a scenario is likely. "We must prepare for a possible total disruption of Russian gas supplies," the German politician told a press conference in Brussels today. Twelve member states are already not being supplied with gas at all or only to a limited extent.

If necessary, only 19 degrees in the office


Next week, the EU Commission will present its draft gas emergency plan. Among other things, it contains recommended maximum temperatures for heating public and commercial buildings. An overview.

The EU Commission is working on a gas emergency plan. It contains a number of measures to react to a possible gas shortage in autumn or winter. At the same time, recommendations and steps are planned to prevent supply bottlenecks or to minimize their effects. "If we act now, the impact of a sudden supply disruption could be reduced by a third," says the first draft, from which several news agencies quote.

The EU Commission will officially present its draft next week. But a number of details have already become known in advance, even if changes are still possible before the official presentation.

Where things are going better in Europe


Queues, lack of staff and crowds of customers: Many German airports have problems during the holiday season. There are similar difficulties elsewhere in Europe - but not everywhere.

The lack of staff at airports, ground service providers, security companies and airlines is currently causing chaotic conditions at German airports. Waiting times, mountains of luggage, delays and flight cancellations are the result. The airlines, which were actually targeting the pre-crisis level due to the strong demand for vacation and travel, are now taking massive flights from the program in order to stabilize processes at the airports.

There are currently problems at the airports not only in Germany. These difficulties can be observed across Europe. But especially in southern Europe, operations at the major airports are going much better, according to a survey by the German Press Agency.

ECB could take stronger action against inflation


Europe's currency watchdogs are braving themselves against the enormous inflation. ECB boss Lagarde is now signaling that faster and larger interest rate hikes than previously planned are also conceivable if inflation accelerates.

At the annual conference of the European Central Bank in Sintra, Portugal, ECB President Christine Lagarde announced that monetary authorities might take tougher action against rising consumer prices.

"If the inflation outlook doesn't improve, we will have enough information to act faster," Lagarde said at the meeting today. "Given the general outlook, the process of normalizing our monetary policy will continue in a resolute and sustained manner."

"The Basis for a New Trade Policy"


The provisional CETA trade agreement between the EU and Canada has long been controversial, especially among the Greens. Now the mood has changed. The traffic light coalition wants to get CETA through the Bundestag soon so that it can be ratified.

Ratification of the EU's interim CETA trade agreement with Canada is drawing near. The factions of the SPD, Greens and FDP want to pass the ratification law before the summer break, and the Bundestag should also soon get a chance. This was announced by representatives of the three coalition factions in Berlin.

To do this, however, they want to make improvements to the agreement that has already been negotiated. According to Green Party leader Katharina Dröge, this involves, for example, the regulations on investor arbitration courts, which should be "defused". These bodies are designed to deal with complaints from investors. However, corporations should not be able to use these instruments in such a way that they could put pressure on environmental regulations, said Dröge.

China's reputation with EU companies is suffering


China is becoming less and less attractive for European companies. According to a survey by the European Chamber of Commerce, the greatest burden for companies is the tough corona measures.

The past year has been good financially for European companies in China. But the war in Ukraine and the spread of the omicron variant of the coronavirus in China changed course. In a survey by the European Chamber of Commerce, almost two-thirds of the companies stated that doing business in China had become more difficult.

How low can the euro sink?


Speculations about sharp rate hikes by the US Federal Reserve are driving the dollar. Even parity between the euro and the US currency cannot be ruled out. What does this mean for the eurozone economy?

The world's leading currency, the dollar, is becoming more and more expensive, while the euro has fallen to its lowest level in almost a month at times at 1.0474 dollars. About a year ago, the common currency was quoted at more than 1.20 dollars.

The reason for the current weakness of the euro is the current US inflation figures: the rate of inflation for goods and services there rose to 8.6 from 8.3 percent in May. Experts are therefore now expecting the US Federal Reserve (Fed) to tighten monetary policy at a rapid pace to combat inflation.

"Inflation hasn't peaked, it's not even stagnating. It's still accelerating, and it's likely to do so in June," said Aneta Markowska, a financial markets expert at investment bank Jefferies. "The inflation data is a tipping point, forcing the Fed to shift into higher gear and speed up monetary tightening."

Burner ban - who is nervous, who is relaxed?


No new cars with combustion engines from 2035: This goal of the European Parliament is causing very different reactions in the EU countries. Why? A look at Poland, Greece and Spain shows this.

The majority of MEPs want to ban the sale of cars and vans with combustion engines from 2035. Even if the decision is not yet binding because it can only come into force after an agreement has been reached with the governments of the EU countries, it is causing reactions in the various countries, some of which are violent.

A look at selected European countries shows why some are now very worried and others are shrugging their shoulders at the planned EU requirements.

Euro inflation rises above eight percent


Inflation in the euro area is higher than ever. The inflation rate in May was 8.1 percent in the countries with the common currency. Energy remains the number one price driver.

The surge in energy prices is driving inflation in the euro area to a record high. Goods and services cost an average of 8.1 percent more in May than a year ago, according to an initial estimate by the statistics office Eurostat. Economists surveyed by the Reuters news agency had only expected 7.7 percent.

The inflation rate is more than four times higher than the target of the European Central Bank (ECB), which aims at 2.0 percent as the optimal level for the economy. In March and April, inflation in the currency area was 7.4 percent.