Germany′s former East still lagging behind | News | DW | 26.09.2012
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Germany's former East still lagging behind

Even 22 years after German reunification, areas from the former East Germany are struggling to catch up with the national average on key economic issues, like wages and unemployment figures.

The annual German report on reunification, presented by Interior Minister Hans-Peter Friedrich in Berlin on Wednesday, gave cause only for muted celebration - still recording considerable discrepancies between what used to be West and East Germany.

The average household income in the German states inducted into the federal system in 1990 remained about one fifth lower than the average across the former West Germany.

Thuringia, Saxony, Saxony-Anhalt and Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania had a purchasing power 16 percent lower than the average across the rest of the country, according to the report's authors.

Unemployment levels in the former east stood at 11.3 percent, the worst level since reunification in 1990, as opposed to 6 percent in the former west.

An average person in the former East contributed 71 percent of the per-capita gross domestic product for Germany last year, whereas the 2010 figure stood at 73 percent. The report's authors wrote, furthermore, that there was "still quite a way to go to dispel the economic differences along the old line of division." The wealth disparities affect pensioners in the new German states as well as those of working age.

Germany has poured a disproportionate amount of money into projects to improve infrastructure and promote growth in the former east over the past 22 years, with some 82 billion euros going to the regions.

Overall wealth in the region is increasing though, albeit not in line with the rest of the country, which could lead to further problems. The former East Germany no longer qualifies for as much financial aid from the European Union, owing to the progress that has been made, something Interior Minister Friedrich acknowledged on Wednesday.

"But we are of the opinion that a safety net of two-thirds of the current level of development aid must be established," Friedrich told reporters in Berlin.

msh/jr (dpa, Reuters)