“Shaping Germany’s Future” is the title the coalition parties chose for their four-year government programme. This shaping of the future includes budget planning, which on a long-term basis avoids requiring any new debt. This is intended to ensure Germany enjoys political freedom of action, even in times of economic crisis. With its objective of a balanced budget, which in both 2014 and 2015 it indeed achieved, the Federal Government considers itself responsible for monetary stability and wishes to be a role model for its partners in the Eurozone.
In the case of some of the government’s major projects, there is support, in principle at least, from far beyond the coalition parties CDU/CSU and SPD. In early 2015, for example, a minimum wage of EUR 8.50 valid for all sectors was introduced for the first time; it will be reviewed regularly by a commission comprising representatives of the trade unions and entrepreneurs. Around 4 million people benefit from this new statutory minimum wage.
The introduction of a quota for women in large stock corporations likewise had widespread political support in parliament and the general public. From 2016, women must account for at least 30 percent of the members of these companies’ supervisory boards, whereby the new regulation applies to 108 publicly listed firms that fall within the ambit of the German co-determination laws. In future, a further 3,500 companies will have to set themselves binding goals for increasing the proportion of women in executive positions. According to the German Institute for Economic Research (DIW), at the end of 2014 the share of women on the advisory boards of the 200 largest companies was 18.4 percent, meaning there is still ground to be made up.
The social policy projects in the current legislature include a “pension reform package”, which among other things contains a mothers’ pension that improves the social security of mothers who raised children born before 1992. A key part of the pension package is retirement at the age of 63. Since 1 July 2014 those people who have paid contributions into the state pension scheme for at least 45 years will be able to retire at the age of 63 without any deductions from their pension.
Germany is an attractive country for immigrants. In 2013 alone, more than 1.2 million people came to the country. To date, there are numerous different sets of statutory regulations that govern immigration and the process of political asylum. In the second half of the legislature, the Federal Government intends to agree on a simple, comprehensible body of laws, and in this way create a more streamlined procedure. Advancing the Energy Reform, through which Germany has already increased its share of regenerative energies to over 30 percent of total electricity consumption, as well as the expansion of the digital infrastructure are further focal points of forthcoming government activities. The parameters for these efforts are set out in the initial agreement reached between the coalition parties.