Facts about Germany 2015 2015 - Page 26

24 | 25 THE STATE & POLITICS and national insurance contributions have That said, new tasks await. As in other indus- risen. New debt assumed by central government trialised countries, demographic change and has been reduced to zero. The Energy Reform is the associated ageing and contracting popu- being driven forward – renewable energies are lation are regarded as a challenge. Not least of on the way to becoming the decisive technol- all for this reason Germany intends to sim- ogy for generating electricity. Furthermore, the plify immigration and make it easier for new reform of the social welfare systems in the early citizens to become integrated. 2000s, a policy programme that went by the name of Agenda 2010, ensured that Germany weathered the financial crises since 2008 better than other countries in the Eurozone. INTERNET Together, the people in Germany have made the gradual fusion of east and west Germany, a major issue since 1990, into a success story. The “Solidarity Pact II”, for which 156.5 billion euros are set aside, will remain in force until 2019. All The German Bundestag Elections, Members of Parliament, parliamentary groups → bundestag.de tax-paying citizens in the east and west con- The Bundesrat Composition, duties, sessions tinue to play a joint role in the “Aufbau Ost” → bundesrat.de project to redevelop the east through the “solidarity surcharge”, a supplementary contribution which today stands at 5.5 percent of personal income tax. The Federal President State visits, appointments, duties → bundespraesident.de Chaired by Federal Chancellor Merkel, the federal cabinet meets every Wednesday at 9.30 a.m. in the Federal Chancellery