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German report German report
by Euro Reporter
2011-09-27 07:48:57
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At war over eurozone bail-out

European officials have confirmed that discussions are afoot to boost the eurozone bail-out fund's firepower as part of a grand plan to contain the region's sovereign debt crisis in Greece. Confirmation of the talks, however, sparked outrage in Germany, where opposition politicians threatened to derail the plans by voting against a key amendment to the bail-out fund this Thursday.

The head of Germany's constitutional court also piled on the pressure by warning the government not to circumvent the law "by the back door".  Despite the wrangling in Germany, markets across Europe staggered back to life on hopes that the crisis could be contained and the recovery restored.  In the UK, the FTSE 100 rose 0.4pc to 5,089.37 after £78bn was wiped off shares last week. In France, the CAC 40 rose 1.75pc, and Germany's DAX recovered almost 4pc.  Policymakers in Europe are working on a three-pronged plan to ringfence the euro crisis around Greece.

Under the proposal, banks across the continent would be recapitalised with tens of billions of Euros, the €440bn European Financial Stability Facility (EFSF) would be "leveraged up" through the European Central Bank (ECB) to provide €2 trillion of firepower, and Greece would be subjected to a managed default on 50pc of its debt but stay in the euro. Officials hope the move would restore confidence in Spain and Italy and calm nervous bond markets. The developments follow mounting international pressure on Europe's leaders to fix their problems. President Barack Obama said last night that Europe's debt crisis "is scaring the world". On Monday, EU economic affairs commissioner Olli Rehn, confirmed that the euro bloc is "thinking about giving the EFSF greater leverage, to give it greater strength". German ministers also hinted at plans to leverage the EFSF, but stressed the fund itself would not be increased.


Nazi was post-war spy for Germany in South America

A high-ranking Nazi officer, who helped develop a mobile gas chamber, became a spy for West Germany after World War Two and went on a training course for the BND intelligence agency despite German warrants for his arrest, BND archives showed. "In hindsight, the recruitment of Walther Rauff is politically and morally incomprehensible," said BND historian Bodo Hechelhammer on Monday. Rauff, who was a top SS security officer in Nazi Germany, was a BND agent in South America between 1958 and 1962, earning more than 70,000 Deutsche marks (about $18,000), Hechelhammer said. Rauff died in Chile in 1984 having evaded attempts to bring him to justice.

The BND, formed after World War Two with the help of the United States, even sent money to pay for Rauff's legal fees when he fought extradition from Chile to face war crimes. After the defeat of the Nazis in 1945 Rauff fled to South America, where he was recruited by the BND. He operated under the name of Enrico Gomez and was assigned to report on Fidel Castro, a mission that turned out to be futile because he was denied entry into Cuba.

Between 1960 and 1962, Rauff took part in two BND training courses in Germany -- the second in February 1962 when there was a German arrest warrant for him. The state issued the warrant in 1962 when Rauff's name was exposed during the trial of Adolf Eichmann, an SS officer kidnapped by Israeli secret agents from his home in Argentina. Rauff was arrested in Chile in December of that year.


Germany leads switch to electric vehicles despite low incentives

According to market data released by Jato Dynamics, nearly twice as many electric vehicles  were registered in Germany in the first half of 2011 compared to the UK with 1,020 models snapped up in Germany compared to just 599 in the UK. The new findings from the automotive data experts seems to suggest that incentives aren’t the  important factor in driving consumer demand for electric vehicles; as demand in Denmark remains stubbornly low despite having the highest potential EV tax exclusions.  

Although Denmark appears to be a haven for EVs in Europe with tax exclusions that potentially amount to €20,588 per vehicle; there were only 283 registrations in the first half of 2011, representing just 0.32 per cent of all vehicles registered in the country. The picture in Great Britain seems better however, as our home country is compared with Spain where tax incentives are around the same level (€6,500 in Spain and the equivalent of €6,400 in GB). Despite a similar tax incentive rate, five times more electric vehicles sold here than in Spain (599 versus 122) in the same period. The picture in Sweden is also impressive, and despite cold weather conditions to deal with, the country registered an almost identical volume as Spain (111) despite subsidies per vehicle amounting to just €470.

Across Europe, total EV registrations came to 5,222 in the first half of the year. Commenting on the findings, Gareth Hession, VP for Research at JATO said: "The discrepancies highlight the apparently low influence of price on purchase decisions across the region. Given this it’s reasonable to conclude that sales are more affected by other factors such as the degree of urban geography, market maturity and charging infrastructure than was previously thought." These local factors include the ability to use bus lanes and free city-centre parking in Oslo and exemption from London’s Congestion Charge all of which appear to exert a greater influence than point of purchase incentives. Jato’s  research also confirms a ten-fold increase in EV registrations across Europe compared to the first half of 2010 – 5,222 compared to 507. Incentives for electric cars across Europe include lower and zero-rated tax levels, consumer grants and free charging and parking facilities.

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