Blogs

  • Addressing Greece’s War Claims

    The issue of war reparations is poisoning relations

    by Bettina Vestring, 13/04/2015 | International Policy/Relations, Europe

    Greece’s finance experts have come up with a staggering claim against Germany for wartime damages: €278.7 billion, nearly four times as much as Germany has so far paid in compensation for Nazi crimes. Berlin’s reaction – a flat denial – is easily understandable. Yet in the interest of future relations within Europe, Chancellor Angela Merkel needs to do better.

  • The Answer Is Blowin’ in the Wind

    New records for German renewable energy production

    by Paul Hockenos, 10/04/2015 | Renewables, Germany

    Germany’s intense wind turbine installations in 2014 contributed to record-breaking renewable energy production during last week’s high winter wind storms, when wind and solar resources combined reached the output of forty conventional large power plants.

  • Harbingers of Transformation

    A few bright spots on Europe’s troubled periphery

    by Elizabeth Pond, 07/04/2015 | Law & Institutions, Central and Eastern European countries

    Even as the future of the European Union's neighborhood remains under threat, a few developments on the EU periphery – in Ukraine, Romania, and Serbia – show that civil society and rule of law are making inroads in post-Communist kleptocracies.

  • The End of Offshore Data?

    “Safe Harbor” offers no true refuge for Europe’s Internet users, the European Commission admits

    by Derek Scally, 01/04/2015 | Information Technology, Europe

    An impending June decision by the EU’s Court of Justice will likely tip the balance between free trade and fundamental rights. Arguments were heard last week in Luxembourg in a privacy rights case lodged by Max Schrems, an Austrian law student, against five international tech giants.

  • Rounding Out the Energiewende

    The German government finally addresses thermal inefficiencies

    by Paul Hockenos, 20/03/2015 | Resources and Energy, Germany

    A new incentives initiative seeks to complete Germany’s transition to renewables with an appeal to business and a focus on a long-neglected area: the heating and cooling sector. Government support for solar and biogas heat may give the Energiewende a further push in the right direction.

  • A (Very Small) Sign of Hope

    Merkel and Putin compromise on joint World War II commemoration

    by Bettina Vestring, 16/03/2015 | German Foreign Policy, Russia

    German Chancellor Angela Merkel turned down Russian President Vladimir Putin’s invitation to attend the huge military parade planned for the 70th anniversary of the Allied victory over Germany. Instead, she will travel to Moscow one day later to take part in a ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier – an unexpected hopeful sign.

  • Death by a Thousand Amendments

    Contrary to official statements, Berlin is working to weaken EU data protection laws

    by Derek Scally, 13/03/2015 | Government and Society, Germany

    The replacements suggested for 20 year-old EU privacy rules must meet the requirements of “high data protection laws in Germany,” Chancellor Angela Merkel used to insist. When standards are higher elsewhere in Europe, however, Berlin seems all too ready to engage in a privacy race to the bottom.

  • The Merkollande Mismatch

    Franco-German relations are improving – a bit

    by Bettina Vestring, 04/03/2015 | Bilateral Relations, France

    Is the Franco-German relationship back? Yes, if you believe a recent photo taken of Angela Merkel and Francois Hollande. Yes, if you see both of them working together to find a solution to the Ukraine crisis. But structurally, relations will continue to remain very difficult. The reason is the huge economic disparity between a prospering Germany and a France burdened by stagnation, unemployment, and persistently high debt.

  • No More Singing the Austerity Blues?

    Germany’s Social Democrat leader tries to change the euro tune to little avail

    by Derek Scally, 27/02/2015 | Economy and Finance, Germany

    Deputy chancellor Sigmar Gabriel argued this week that it was time to turn the page on austerity policies. But there is little chance of him bringing about a change of course. Rather, the return of the Greek crisis has underlined how little influence Germany’s Social Democrats have shaping euro-saving policies.

  • More Firsts and Breakthroughs

    Storage challenges, part 2 (of 2): 2015 could be a critical year for renewable power storage

    by Paul Hockenos, 23/02/2015 | Resources and Energy, Worldwide

    Utility companies have begun investing in large-scale battery storage technology for their renewable energy production. But the next frontier – small-scale storage for households and small businesses – is poised to take off as battery technology becomes more affordable.

  • Charging Ahead

    Storage challenges, part 1 (of 2): State-financed subsidies and tax credits essential for promoting renewables storage

    by Paul Hockenos, 18/02/2015 | Resources and Energy, Worldwide

    As dependence on renewable energy production grows, decreasing lithium prices are driving the development of large- and small-scale energy storage technologies across the globe. North America is leading the way with grid-scale energy storage projects, but Asia and Europe are right behind.

  • Lessons from Munich

    Competing realities emerge when talking about Ukraine

    by Derek Scally, 12/02/2015 | German Foreign Policy, Ukraine

    Discussions at the Munich Security Conference revealed five very different understandings of the crisis in Ukraine, with five equally different sets of policy options following. The only point of agreement is the severity of the current threat to European stability. It was Chancellor Angela Merkel who delivered a striking dose of realpolitik.

  • Palms Beyond Paradise

    Euro crisis round-up (part 5 of 5): Portugal's path out of crisis remains a thorny one

    by Thomas Fischer, 10/02/2015 | Economy and Finance, Portugal

    After three years of adherence to strict Troika directives, Portugal takes its first independent economic steps – with mixed reviews. The country must strike a balance between maintaining the fiscal austerity required by its lenders and providing services and protections for its citizens, before the country hemorrhages more of its struggling workforce.

  • Don’t Blink First

    Tsipras and Merkel are playing a dangerous game

    by Bettina Vestring, 04/02/2015 | Economy and Finance, Greece

    Greece’s radical new government seems to believe that its European partners cannot afford to let the country go broke. German Chancellor Angela Merkel is trying hard to create the opposite impression. Both sides are playing a dangerous game of mutually assured destruction, and there is little time to find a way out.

  • The Mentality of Self-Interest

    Euro crisis round-up (part 4 of 5): Why Italy needs a fundamental change

    by Andrea Affaticati, 03/02/2015 | Economy and Finance, Italy

    Prime Minister Matteo Renzi has announced his intention to pursue an ambitious slate of reforms, but has yet to achieve much of anything – and the problems afflicting the Italian economy may require drastic changes.

  • No Clear, Simple Answers

    Fresh violence erupts in Ukraine

    by Elizabeth Pond, 29/01/2015 | War/Warfare, Ukraine

    Despite reaching a truce on September 5, Russia and Ukraine have not made any progress on a permanent peace treaty – and a Russian push this week may have scuttled negotiations entirely for the time being. What is more, the newest phase of the crisis could be the most dangerous yet.

  • Virus of Intolerance

    Even if it now withers away, the anti-Islam movement Pegida has changed Germany

    by Derek Scally, 29/01/2015 | Migration, Germany

    With their leadership in disarray, the Pegida movement that got disgruntled Germans in their thousands marching on the streets of Dresden and other cities seems on its last leg. However, its campaign against “the Islamization of the Occident” has unleashed dangerous genies that may end up haunting Chancellor Angela Merkel.

  • The Costs of Consolidation

    Euro crisis round-up (part 3 of 5): Spain’s austerity policies threaten to permanently damage Spanish society

    by Ariadna Trillas, 27/01/2015 | Economy and Finance, Spain

    Spain was one of the countries hardest hit by the crisis, and its response has been among the most severe. The concern now is that the cure could do as much damage as the disease, with austerity policies threatening to divide the state.

  • The Coming (Öko)Strom

    Changes necessary to keep wind in the Energiewende’s sails

    by Paul Hockenos, 26/01/2015 | Resources and Energy, Germany

    Removing regulations slowing the build-up of renewable systems for consumers and industry, considering complementary methods of integrating fluctuating flows of renewable energy, and greening the transport sector through fuel innovations: these are three of the developments we may see in Germany’s renewable energy transition in 2015.

  • Surviving the Kill-or-Cure Approach

    Euro crisis round-up (part 2 of 5): Ireland’s tough savings program ended not a moment too soon

    by Martin Alioth, 21/01/2015 | Economy and Finance, Ireland

    Ireland’s economy has begun to recover, with 2014 showing GDP growth and a healthier demand for state bonds. However, some risks remain: Ireland’s banking system has yet to fully bounce back, and could prove a liability.

Latest Eye on Europe

  • Addressing Greece’s War Claims

    The issue of war reparations is poisoning relations

    Greece’s finance experts have come up with a staggering claim against Germany for wartime damages: €278.7 billion, nearly four times as much as Germany has so far paid in compensation for Nazi crimes. Berlin’s reaction – a flat denial – is easily understandable. Yet in the interest of future relations within Europe, Chancellor Angela Merkel needs to do better.

  • Harbingers of Transformation

    A few bright spots on Europe’s troubled periphery

    Even as the future of the European Union's neighborhood remains under threat, a few developments on the EU periphery – in Ukraine, Romania, and Serbia – show that civil society and rule of law are making inroads in post-Communist kleptocracies.

  • The End of Offshore Data?

    “Safe Harbor” offers no true refuge for Europe’s Internet users, the European Commission admits

    An impending June decision by the EU’s Court of Justice will likely tip the balance between free trade and fundamental rights. Arguments were heard last week in Luxembourg in a privacy rights case lodged by Max Schrems, an Austrian law student, against five international tech giants.

Latest Berlin Observer

  • A (Very Small) Sign of Hope

    Merkel and Putin compromise on joint World War II commemoration

    German Chancellor Angela Merkel turned down Russian President Vladimir Putin’s invitation to attend the huge military parade planned for the 70th anniversary of the Allied victory over Germany. Instead, she will travel to Moscow one day later to take part in a ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier – an unexpected hopeful sign.

  • Death by a Thousand Amendments

    Contrary to official statements, Berlin is working to weaken EU data protection laws

    The replacements suggested for 20 year-old EU privacy rules must meet the requirements of “high data protection laws in Germany,” Chancellor Angela Merkel used to insist. When standards are higher elsewhere in Europe, however, Berlin seems all too ready to engage in a privacy race to the bottom.

  • The Merkollande Mismatch

    Franco-German relations are improving – a bit

    Is the Franco-German relationship back? Yes, if you believe a recent photo taken of Angela Merkel and Francois Hollande. Yes, if you see both of them working together to find a solution to the Ukraine crisis. But structurally, relations will continue to remain very difficult. The reason is the huge economic disparity between a prospering Germany and a France burdened by stagnation, unemployment, and persistently high debt.

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  • Politics Trump Economics

    05/02/2015

    Germany’s approach to Russia, namely supporting political change by deepening economic relations, has failed

  • Chasing a Chimera

    02/03/2015

    Closer EU-EEU ties will not lead to a rapprochement with Russia

  • Oil Price Collaterals

    02/02/2015

    The new Saudi strategy shakes Russia, Iran, and Venezuela, but they are not its real targets

Latest blog posts

  • Addressing Greece’s War Claims

    The issue of war reparations is poisoning relations

    Greece’s finance experts have come up with a staggering claim against Germany for wartime damages: €278.7 billion, nearly four times as much as Germany has so far paid in compensation for Nazi crimes. Berlin’s reaction – a flat denial – is easily understandable. Yet in the interest of future relations within Europe, Chancellor Angela Merkel needs to do better.

  • The Answer Is Blowin’ in the Wind

    New records for German renewable energy production

    Germany’s intense wind turbine installations in 2014 contributed to record-breaking renewable energy production during last week’s high winter wind storms, when wind and solar resources combined reached the output of forty conventional large power plants.

  • Harbingers of Transformation

    A few bright spots on Europe’s troubled periphery

    Even as the future of the European Union's neighborhood remains under threat, a few developments on the EU periphery – in Ukraine, Romania, and Serbia – show that civil society and rule of law are making inroads in post-Communist kleptocracies.