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As COVID-19 rages, German government announces supplementary budget of US$173.2 billion for economic relief

On March 21, 2020, the German government announced a supplementary budget for 2020 including a rescue package for German companies, amounting to €156 billion (US$173.2 billion) to mitigate the consequences of the COVID-19 crisis.

Germany's debt limit usually allows a maximum of 0.35% of the gross domestic product in new debt, currently amounting to approximately €12 billion (US$13.3 billion). However, in times of crisis, exceptions apply; German Finance Minister Olaf Scholz stated that Germany would need to exceed the debt limit temporally. According to Scholz, Germany’s current low deficits of 60% of economic output enables the government to act with full political force.

News Article – Tagesschau (in German)

Germany

Germany to bolster low-income countries’ health infrastructure in preparation for COVID-19

The German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) announced a plan to support low-income countries’ health infrastructure in an effort to lessen the blow of an inevitable COVID-19 outbreak. Support will be provided specifically in hygiene measures, training of medical professionals, and training in virus detection and treatment.

The BMZ set up a new website providing information on German development cooperation amidst the COVID-19 crisis.

Press release – BMZ (in German)

Germany Global health

Germany suspends humanitarian admission of refugees following EU border closures in COVID-19 crisis

Due to the spread of COVID-19, Germany’s Federal Ministry of the Interior has decided to suspend programs for humanitarian admission of refugees for the time being. Programs aiming at providing shelter for refugees in distress and refugee admissions in the context of the EU-Turkey agreement are affected.

The admission programs came to halt on Friday, March 20, 2020, due to the EU’s entry ban for Non-EU citizens. The COVID-19 outbreak will not have any impact on European efforts to resettle minor refugees from Greek islands to other EU countries.

Meanwhile, experts point to the high risk of a COVID-19 outbreak in refugee camps; severe overcrowding and a lack of medical equipment could lead to widespread deaths.

News article – Deutsche Welle (in German)

Germany Global health

German Ministry of Finance presents budget caps for 2021 federal budget bill, financial plan 2020-2024

On March 18, 2020, the German Federal Ministry of Finance presented the budget caps for the 2021 federal budget bill and individual ministerial budgets, as well as for the financial plan 2020-2024.

The Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) will be allocated €10.9 billion (US$11.9 billion) for 2021. Thus, between 2020 and 2021, the BMZ budget remains stable, interrupting, for the first time, an upward trend since 2013. According to the key figures, the BMZ budget will fall by 14% in the 2021-2024 period (-US$1.7 billion). Costs for Germany incurred by the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak have not yet been quantified, therefore the budget caps are still volatile and could be subject to change.

German Development Minister Gerd Müller emphasized the importance of maintaining a stable BMZ budget in 2021 – to support the health infrastructure in low-income countries, especially during the COVID-19 outbreak, and to continue the vital work in regions affected by crises.

Criticism from a coalition of German CSOs (ONE, Oxfam, Global Citizen, Save the Children, Plan International, and DSW) pointed out that the newly unveiled plans do not mirror the parliamentary coalition agreement. They called for increased funding for the fight against poverty and the strengthening of health systems to reach the Sustainable Development Goals and implement Germany’s 0.7% ODA/GNI target.

Press release – BMF (in German)

Press release – BMZ (in German)

Germany

German pharmaceutical “CureVac” guarantees global access to potential COVID-19 vaccine, following high bids from the United States to secure exclusive rights

US President Donald Trump offered a large amount of money to the German biopharmaceutical company CureVac to secure the lab’s work on a COVID-19 vaccine exclusively for the US. The German government, in turn, made financial offers to keep CureVac in Germany. On March 15, 2020, CureVac’s biggest investor, Dietmar Hopp, stated that there will be no exclusive contract with the US: "We want to develop a vaccine for the whole world and not individual countries."

CureVac is is likely to enter the test phase for its COVID-19 vaccine in June or July 2020.

News article – Die Welt am Sonntag (in German)

News article – Der Spiegel (in German)

German Federal Chancellery postpones introduction of supply chain law amid COVID-19-related economic turmoil

The German Federal Chancellery postponed the introduction of a law against exploitation in global supply chains, originally planned to be introduced by the Federal Minister of Economic Cooperation and Development, Gerd Müller, and the Federal Minister for Labor and Social Affairs, Hubertus Heil, on March 10, 2020. The supply chain law aimed to guarantee the compliance of German companies with social and ecological standards at all stages of the value chain, including with foreign suppliers. Against the background of increasing economic challenges due to COVID-19, the Federal Chancellery canceled the law’s introduction.

German economic associations welcomed the postponement, decrying the potential of Heil’s and Müller’s initiative to increase production costs for companies. Civil Society Organizations, on the other hand, criticized the delay. The postponement makes the passage of the law during this legislative term unlikely.

News article – Die Welt (in German)

Germany

New resource tracking donor funding for COVID-19

The Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF), a US-based non-profit organization focused on health, recently released a centralized compilation of information on donor funding for COVID-19. Their analysis is based on publicly available information and details all funding directed toward the global response to the virus. It excludes spending on domestic response efforts or economic stimulus.

Key findings include:

  • Governments, multilateral organizations, and private funders around the world have so far spent an estimated US$8.3 billion responding to the virus;
  • 91% of funds have come from donor governments, the World Bank, and other multilateral organizations; and
  • The World Bank is the largest donor so far (US$6.0 billion). The US is the second-largest donor (US$1.3 billion), followed by the Tencent/Tencent Charity Foundation (US$215 million), Alibaba (US$144 million), and the European Union (US$140 million).

KFF plans to update the tracker as this global health emergency continues to unfold.

In addition to KFF's work on donor funding for COVID-19, other efforts to provide data-driven information on the outbreak have begun to emerge. Our World in Data's COVID-19 article is a particularly useful resource. Their aim is to help readers make sense of early data on the coronavirus outbreak. The article will continue to be updated as the situation develops.

Report - KFF

Germany commits additional funding to CEPI in support of vaccine development for COVID-19

The German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) has committed €145 million (US$171 million) of immediate funding to the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI) to support the development of a vaccine against COVID-19.

CEPI is an innovative global partnership between public, private, philanthropic, and civil society organizations working to accelerate the development of vaccines against emerging infectious diseases and was formed in response to the Ebola epidemic in West Africa in 2017. Germany is a founding member of CEPI.

In addition to that BMBF has announced its plans to accelerate research funding around COVID-19 with up to €10 million (US$12 million). Researchers will receive funding to understand the virus better and find treatment options.

Press release - BMBF (in German) 

ONE highlights need for better data, alongside release of their new gender data dashboard

ONE, a global movement campaigning to end extreme poverty and preventable disease by 2030, has joined the growing number of organizations calling attention to the fact that "more funding for gender equality may not be all it seems". Official Development Assistance (ODA) targeting gender equality reached an all-time high of US$45.2 billion in 2018, accounting for 39.4% of ODA. However, closer examinations of the figures recently released by the Organisation of Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) reveal that challenges remain, especially in terms of the quality of the data available on the state of funding for gender equality in development.

As part of ONE's commitment to back up their advocacy with data-driven tools, they released a new interactive dashboard to explore gender ODA from nine major donors. The tool provides data on how each donor spends gender equality focused development funding, information on their key gender strategies, details on the sectors and income levels that they target, and analysis of how different agencies prioritize gender equality.

Blog post - ONE

German Development Minister brings focus on global supply chains and combatting child labor

German Development Minister Gerd Mueller raised awareness to labor conditions in the textile industry during a state visit to India and Bangladesh. Bangladesh is the second largest producer of textiles globally, and Germany is one of the largest buyers of textiles from Bangladesh.

Worldwide over 150 million children are still working under sometimes exploitative labour conditions and for millions of workers, especially in the textile industry, fair wages or job security are still out of sight.

During the visit, Minister Mueller visited multiple textile factories, two of them part of the 'Green Button', the first state-endorsed  mark for socially and ecologically friendly textiles, which Germany launched in 2019. In his remarks, Minister Mueller recalled the Rana Plaza garment factory catastrophe, a major factory collapse that took place in 2013 and claimed over one thousand lives.

Press release - German Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (in German)

Germany