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COUNTRY PROFILES


PROFILE

Country Profile

Area: 357,050 sq km
Population: 81.8 million
Capital City: Berlin (population – 3.4 million)
People (ethnicity): Germans 91%, Turks 2%
Language: German
Religion: Protestant 30%, Roman Catholic 31%, unaffiliated or other 29%, Muslim 3.5%
Currency: Euro
Major Political Parties: Social Democrats (SPD); Christian Democrats (CDU); Christian Social Union (CSU); Alliance 90/The Greens (usually known simply as The Greens); Free Democrats (FDP); The Left Party (Die Linke).
Government: Germany is a Federal Republic made up of 16 states. The German Parliament, called the Bundestag, is elected every 4 years. The 16 state governments are represented in the Bundesrat, which has a role similar to that of an upper house. The Federal Government is led by the Chancellor. Germany is currently governed by a conservative-liberal coalition of CDU/ CSU and FDP.
Head of State: The formal Head of State is the Federal President. The President is elected for a term of five years by the Federal Assembly (which is made up of the Bundestag and representatives from the Länder). The role of President is largely ceremonial, although the President does have the power to dismiss the Government. Following the resignation of Germany’s Federal President, Christian Wulff (CDU) on 17 February 2012, the President of the Bundesrat, Horst Seehofer (CSU) is caretaker President until a successor for Christian Wulff is elected by the Federal Assembly on 18 March.
Chancellor: Angela Merkel (since November 2005) - CDU
Foreign Minister: Guido Westerwelle - FDP
Europe Minister: Michael Link – FDP
Membership of international organisations: European Union (EU), European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD), G8, World Trade Organisation (WTO), United Nations (UN) , North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO), International Monetary Fund (IMF), International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD), Organisation for Co-operation and Security in Europe (OSCE), Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).

Did You Know?

-- The composition of German beer is tightly governed by a 16th century law on brewing, the Reinheitsgebot, which rules that only barley, hops and water may be used.

-- Men should be careful when wearing a tie in Germany on Weiberfastnacht (Women’s Day – the Thursday before Ash Wednesday). On this day, women have the right to cut men’s ties off.

-- Queen Victoria’s eldest daughter Vicky, briefly became German Empress in 1888.

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ECONOMY

Basic Economic Facts (2010)

GDP: EUR 2,6 bn
Unemployment (ILO definition): 5.5% (December 2011)
GDP per head: Eur 27.300
Annual Growth: 3.0%
Inflation (CPI): 2.3%
General government debt as a percentage of GDP: 81.1%
Economic Structure: Services 71%, Industry (without construction) 24.5% (major sectors: car manufacturing, engineering, chemistry), Construction 3.5%, Agriculture 0.8%

With a gross domestic product of more than 2.6 trillion Euros, Germany is the largest economy in Europe and the fifth strongest economy in the world. The country has a strong industrial base and is heavily export orientated. Deutschland also is the world second largest exporter (overtaken by China in 2009).

British-German economic relations

-- Germany is the UK’s second largest export market worldwide (after the US), and provider of the greatest share of UK imports.

-- The UK is Germany’s 6th largest trade partner, 4th largest export destination and the 6th largest originator of imports.

-- German imports from the UK increased by 18.4% to EUR44.9 billion in 2011, making up 5% of total German imports. German exports to the UK picked up 11.4% to EUR65.3 bn in 2010, or 6.2% of total German exports. From the British perspective exports to Germany made up 13.2% of all exports whilst imports had a share of 12.5%.

-- Exports to Germany are double those to all four BRICs combined. Great Britain is the No. 1 investment destination for German companies. Nearly 2500 of them have a presence in the UK employing almost 400,000 people. Total German FDI currently amounts to nearly €121 billion

-- In Germany almost every sixth foreign company is British. There are over 1,000 British companies in Germany employing over 200,000 people. Total British FDI in Germany currently amounts to nearly €40 billion

-- In 2010, Germany invested EUR 4.7 bn whilst the UK invested EUR 1.7 bn in Germany

Germany was one of the first European countries to emerge from the recession in 2009 with GDP growth of 3.7% in 2010 and about 3% in 2011. The outlook for 2012 is less positive with growth expectations between 0% and 1%.

The German economy is characterised by its small and medium-sized companies. Whilst the big players such as BMW, Daimler, Siemens, Adidas etc are well known, approximately 99 % of all companies are SMEs, many of which are hidden global champions in their sub-sector. Most SMEs are family owned and have been passed from one generation to the next.

The overall unemployment rate has consistently fallen since 2005 and reached a 20 year low in December 2011 at 5.5% (ILO rate).

In May 2009, Parliament approved a new constitutional rule governing levels of debt at federal and state levels (“debt brake”). During the transition period (from 2011 until 2016), the Federal Budget will have to demonstrate a gradual reduction of the deficit. From 2016, the Federal Government will be allowed a maximum annual structural deficit of 0.35% of GDP. The Laender are not allowed to have any structural deficits from 2020 onwards. In 2011, Federal new net borrowing amounted to Eur 17.3 bn which translates into a 1% general government deficit ratio (Maastricht).

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HISTORY

Following the end of the Second World War, Germany was divided up into four occupation zones, each controlled by one of the Allies: UK, USA, France and Russia. The capital Berlin, situated geographically within the Russian zone, was also divided up into four sectors.

In 1949, the UK, US and French zones were merged to become the Federal Republic of Germany (often simply called ‘West Germany’). West Germany chose the small Rhine city of Bonn as a “provisional” capital. The Russian zone became the German Democratic Republic (‘East Germany’). Berlin’s 3 western sectors (known as ‘West Berlin’) thus became a small enclave of West Germany within the Russian zone. The Russian sector of Berlin (‘East Berlin’) became the capital of the GDR.

By the beginning of the 1960s, the East German authorities were fighting to prevent the exodus of citizens fleeing to the West. They responded in August 1961 by constructing the Berlin Wall.

The FRG espoused the Social Market Economy, became a member of NATO and a founding member of the EU. The GDR followed a planned economy and became firmly entrenched in the Warsaw Pact. Political pressure, the increasing détente between East and West and protests by the East German people led to a lifting of travel restrictions from the GDR and to the eventual fall of the Berlin Wall on 9 November 1989. Following free elections in the GDR, the two German states were re-united on 3 October 1990: the GDR became a part of the FRG and Berlin became capital of Germany.

Berlin was capital, but Parliament and Government were still based in Bonn. In 1991 the Parliament voted by a narrow majority in favour of making Berlin the seat of Government. The so-called Bonn-Berlin act was adopted in 1994. The move to Berlin was completed in 1999. The British Embassy too moved from Bonn to the new capital in 1999. Berlin is Germany’s political capital, but six ministries still have their official primary seat in Bonn.
Helmut Kohl (CDU) was Germany’s Chancellor for 16 years from 1982 to 1998 (in coalition with the FDP). He oversaw the reunification of Germany (earning him the epithet “Chancellor of Unification”). In 1998, a new political era began with the election of an SPD-Greens coalition under Chancellor Gerhard Schröder (SPD). Schröder was re-elected for a second term in 2002. In 2005, Angela Merkel came to power, becoming Germany’s first female Chancellor.

BBC Timeline of Germany (http://news.bbc.co.uk/hi/english/world/europe/newsid_1053000/1053880.stm)

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INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS

Germany enjoys good relations with other EU member states and with the US. As a founding member of the EU, Germany has maintained a close post-war relationship with France. Following reunification Germany has sought to strengthen its relations with Eastern Europe and Russia. Germany has also signed a treaty with Poland recognising its external borders.

Germany’s relations with the UK

British cultural relations in Germany are led by the British Council.

British Council: Germany (http://www.britishcouncil.org/germany/)
Over 400 British towns have a twin in Germany. A database of all UK town twinnings - including those with Germany - can be found on the website of the Local Government International Bureau.

There are also a number of British-German organisations that promote better relations between our two countries:

British-German Forum Wilton Park

The British-German Forum is an annual event, sponsored by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, to bring together 40 young "high flyers" from the United Kingdom and Germany for four days to discuss key issues of relevance to both countries. The British German Forum takes place in the relaxed atmosphere of Wilton House in the Sussex countryside. If you are interested in participating, contact Wilton Park by telephone on 00 44 1903 815020 or go to:

British-German Forum - Wilton Park (http://www.wiltonpark.org.uk/web/bgforum/forum.html">German-British Forum

A privately funded organisation set up in 1995. The Forum supports ventures in the political, social and economic fields, aimed at increasing understanding and knowledge among Britons and Germans about the partner country. It gives high priority to raising and improving the profile of the German-British partnership in the media and public opinion.

German-British Forum (http://www.gbf.com)

The British-German Association

The British-German Association, a registered charity, seeks to promote the closest possible understanding between the United Kingdom and Germany. The association organises events in the London area, while its affiliated societies run varied programmes throughout the UK.

The British-German Association (http://www.britishgermanassociation.org/">UK-German Connection

UK-German Connection is a bilateral youth links initiative that arose out of HM the Queen’s State Visit to Germany in November 2004. It was set up by the two governments in to promote contact between young people in the two countries. It is supported by both the British and the German governments.
( www.ukgermanconnection.org (http://www.ukgermanconnection.org) )

Königswinter

The Königswinter conference is a high-level forum bringing together leading figures from politics, industry, academia and the media in Britain and Germany. It has been an annual event since 1949 and is held alternately in the UK and Germany. This year’s conference will take place in Oxford from 15-17 March.

The Königswinter family also includes the ‘Young Königswinter’ conference (a week-long conference held in Berlin for 25-30 year olds), and the annual Economic Königswinter.

German Tourist Board (http://www.germany-tourism.de/#)

Recent Visits

HM The Queen & HRH The Duke of Edinburgh made a state visit to Germany in November 2004, where they were greeted by then President Köhler. HRH The Prince of Wales and HRH The Duchess of Cornwall visited Germany in April 2009.

The Prime Minister, David Cameron held talks with Chancellor Merkel in Berlin on 18 November 2011. The two leaders discussed EU cooperation and the ongoing economic situation in Europe. The Prime Minister also visited Germany on 5 February 2011 to attend the Munich Security Council.

Foreign and Europe Ministers also meet frequently and UK Ministers from across government meet their German counterparts in both EU and bilateral contexts, underlining the close cooperation between the UK and Germany.

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GEOGRAPHY

Germany is in Central Europe, bordering the North Sea and the Baltic Sea between the Netherlands and Poland, and to the south of Denmark. It has land boundaries with Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, France, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Poland and Switzerland. Germany has a coastline of 2,389 km. The terrain is generally lowland in the north, with uplands in the centre and the Bavarian Alps in the south. The climate is temperate with cool, cloudy, wet winters and occasional warm summers. Over 30% of the country is forest and woodland.

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TRADE AND INVESTMENT

Trade and Investment with the UK

Germany is the UK’s second largest export market worldwide and the largest in Europe. Exports to Germany in 2011 totalled €39.4bn. To put this in perspective: UK exports to Germany alone are double those to the four BRIC countries (Brazil, India, Russia, China) put together and nearly as many goods and services are exported just to the German state of North-Rhine Westphalia than it does to China and India together. UK export success in Germany covers a broad field, including machinery, vehicles, oil, aircraft and chemicals. Both countries are also major investors in each other.

Meanwhile, the UK is the fourth largest export market for German goods. In 2011, German exports to the UK totalled €58.4bn, thereby achieving a surplus of €19 billion.

UK Trade & Investment Country Profile: Germany (http://www.uktradeinvest.gov.uk/ukti/germany)

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POLITICS

The most recent Federal Election was held in September 2009. Following the success of the CDU/CSU (33%) and the FDP (14.6%), Chancellor Merkel separated from the previous coalition partner (the SPD, which polled 23%), and formed a government with the FDP. The Coalition has 330 of 620 seats in the Bundestag.
All three of the 'small' parties in German Parliament achieved their best ever result in a Federal Election: the FDP 14.6%, the Greens 10.7%, the Left Party 11.9%.

Composition of Parliament (Bundestag):

CDU/CSU (237 seats)

-- SPD (146 seats)

FDP (93)

-- Left Party (76)

Greens (68)

Elections

The next Federal Election is in autumn 2013.

German Parliament (http://www.bundestag.de)
German Government (http://eng.bundesregierung.de)

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Last Updated: February 2012

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