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Germany in Brief

Surprising drop in unemployment; German government launches initiative to fight red tape; Soccer star Kahn suffers temporary deafness; U.S. ambassador to Germany says U.S.-German ties on the mend.


Help is needed for citizens staggering under the weight of Germany's notorious bureaucracy.

Unemployment shows surprising fall

Seasonally adjusted unemployment in Germany fell last month by a surprisingly large margin of 33,000, providing an unexpected boost for Schröder's economic reform plans. According to Florian Gerster, head of Germany's federal labor office, the decline was largely due to labor market reform measures and reflected a trend that began in January. Unadjusted unemployment fell in June from 4.342 million to 4.257 million, representing 10.2 percent of the workforce. Speaking on Wednesday, Gerster said Germany was far from economic recovery but expressed confidence that growth could be "significantly over 1 percent" next year, thus leading to a quicker drop in unemployment.

Government to trim bureaucratic flab

The German government has passed a new law to fight bureaucracy. The "Initiative Bureaucracy Reduction" aims to boost the struggling German economy by loosening regulations on existing small and medium-sized companies, modernize administration and improve the state of Germany's public finances. According to German Interior Minister Otto Schily (photo), less bureaucracy and more flexibility are essential to breathing life into Germany's small and medium-sized businesses, the traditional backbone of the world's third- largest economy.

Porträt des Bundesinnenministers Otto Schily

Under the law, which was presented by the government on Wednesday, businesses will no longer have to observe tight work place regulations and Germans will be able to take care of bureaucratic issues via the internet. In addition, the government wants to replace the identity card with a chip card and introduce a so-called Jobcard for the unemployed which will save data electronically. Further details are to be hammered out together with the state governments in the next months.

Soccer star Kahn suffers under temporary deafness

Bayern Munich captain Oliver Kahn is on his way to recovery after going temporarily deaf in his left ear last week. Kahn said he wasn't going to let either the ear problem, or his private life, get in the way of his performance this season. For Kahn, who is also Germany's national team captain, 2003 has been a turbulent year so far, regularly hitting the headlines for his affair with a Munich barmaid while his wife was heavily pregnant. Kahn has admitted falling into a rut after the World Cup 2002, when Germany lost 2-0 to Brazil in the final after he spilled a shot enabling Brazilian player Ronaldo to score the first of his two goals and a sluggish start to last year's football season. "I know I can contribute to our (Bayern's) success", Kahn told Reuters this week. "I'm going to go full speed from the start of this season".

German-American relations begin to thaw

U.S. Ambassador to Germany Daniel Coats said Thursday relations between Germany and the U.S. are on the way to improvement. Speaking on the sidelines of a reception for New York youth at Chancellor Gerhard Schröder's office in Berlin, Coats admitted the two nations had problems in the past, but were now looking firmly ahead and increased cooperation was reinforcing communication. He didn’t rule out a meeting between Schröder and U.S. President Bush either and said in a speech that personal ties between citizens of both countries contributed to the strengthening of the German-U.S. relationship. In his speech Schröder said, "Both our countries need each other," and that friendships should be stuck to despite occasional differences of opinion. Relations between Germany and the U.S. plummeted when Schröder refused to support the U.S.-led war against Iraq earlier this year. The event at the chancellery was held for 80 American students who are in Germany at present and is part of the "Bridge New York – Berlin" program initiated by Schröder in the aftermath of the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center in New York on Sept. 11, 2001.

Complied by DW staff from wire services