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Adobe Stock / Fokussiert

More "Net from Gross"

Relief through an allowance in statutory health insurance

In light of demographic changes that inevitably increase pressure on our social security system, an unstoppable rise in social insurance contributions looms unless decisively counteracted with reforms. Especially low-income households, which already bear a disproportionately high financial burden relative to their income, are under this strain. Consequently, there is a need for targeted relief for these households directly within the framework of social insurances, rather than through tax deductions. An allowance in statutory health insurance could significantly reduce the burden for employees subject to social insurance. To keep the costs of the reform manageable, it seems sensible to grant allowances only to a precisely defined target group.

IMAGO / Xinhua

East Africa: When it rains, it pours

What influence do current floods have on the socio-political development of the region?

In East Africa, record droughts are being followed by floods that have displaced 1.5 million people so far. This is exacerbating the multiple crises in the region. Food security is deteriorating further and exacerbating the already high rate of urban growth. At the same time, the region's govern-ments are grappling with massive over-indebtedness, further complicating the necessary invest-ments in climate-resilient measures.

IMAGO / Eastnews

Difficult change: From the PiS state back to the rule of law

Fifty turbulent days for the new coalition

The parliamentary elections on October 15, 2023 have fundamentally changed the face of the Polish political scene. With a record voter turnout of over 73%, the national-conservative government, formed by the Law and Justice party (PiS), was deposed and the four liberal democratic coalition parties (Civic Platform - PO, Polska 2050, Polish People's Party - PSL and the New Left) won overall 248 mandates in the 460-seat Sejm. Nevertheless, the PiS remains the strongest faction in parliament with 194 seats. In his first government statement in December, new Prime Minister Donald Tusk announced his cabinet's priorities, which are to restore the rule of law and return Poland to the European family.

Schnelle Einigung im Sondergipfel

EU-27 geben grünes Licht für Ukrainemittel

Im Zentrum des Sondergipfels der EU-Staats- und Regierungschefs am 1. Februar stand die Revision des Mehrjährigen Finanzrahmens 2021-2027 (MFR) und damit die Ukraine-Fazilität in Höhe von 50 Milliarden: beim regulären Ratsgipfel im Dezember konnte wegen der Blockade des ungarischen Premiers Viktor Orban keine Einigung erzielt werden. Im Vorfeld galt der Ausgang des Gipfels als völlig offen.

Daniel Braun

The citizens of Kosovo now also have the freedom to travel to the European Union

Kosovo is the last country in the Western Balkans to receive visa liberalization with the EU

At the beginning of the year, visa liberalization with the European Union came into force in Kosovo, the last country in the Western Balkans to do so. The freedom to travel, which was achieved after a long wait compared to neighboring countries, is causing much euphoria, especially among the younger generation. However, there is also concern that the freedom to travel could trigger a large wave of emigration of workers and an additional brain drain to the EU states, which would exacerbate the already existing labor shortage in certain economic sectors.

Adobe Stock / One Dragon

Myanmar three years after the coup: where is the country heading?

A landmark year for Myanmar - new dynamics, alliances and scenarios for a "post-war state"

February 1 marks the third anniversary of the military coup (Tatmadaw) against the democratically elected government led by Aung San Suu Kyi. Peaceful protests in the country continue to be bloodily suppressed and the humanitarian situation is catastrophic. Refugee movements, particularly to Thailand and India, and fighting on the Chinese border are turning the conflict in Myanmar into a supra-regional risk that the ASEAN community has so far done little to counter. Armed resistance has formed in large parts with the People's Defense Force. Since October last year, this has been supported by a number of powerful, highly armed ethnic organizations in the west, north and northeast of the country. The military appears vulnerable for the first time. Debates about a "post-junta" state are gaining momentum, although the ideas of the actors involved in the struggle (democratization vs. expansion of territorial claims) could not be more different. Myanmar is facing a landmark year full of dynamics.

IMAGO / Pond5 Images

Mexico 2024

Outlook for the super election year

The global super election year 2024 will also see the largest elections in the history of the world's most populous Spanish-speaking country: In Mexico, 97.6 million eligible voters will decide on more than 20,000 mandates at all levels of government. This includes a new legislature and the office of head of state, which will be held by a woman for the first time. But the political cards are also being reshuffled in many of the 32 federal states, with governorships (cf. prime minister), state parliaments and municipal office holders across the country up for election. The heightened election temperature has been clearly noticeable since the end of last year.

Adobe Stock / lensw0rld

German-Austrian Collaboration: Climate Change Solutions for the EU

Outcome paper of the Vienna Dialogue 2023

The outcome paper of the Vienna Dialogue 2023 emphasizes the need for an expanded European climate policy that focuses on adapting to the already noticeable effects of climate change. Societal challenges, in particular distributional conflicts, require pan-European cooperation. The text emphasizes the importance of systematically recording adaptation costs and damages and calls for preventive and reactive measures. The Vienna Dialogue proposes concrete policy recommendations, particularly in the areas of the European Green Deal, economy, currency, finance and foreign, security and defense policy. Germany and Austria should intensify their cooperation, promote research, make agricultural policy climate-friendly, make optimum use of EU funds and strengthen the security policy discourse in order to meet the challenges of climate change.

IMAGO / Pond5 Images

New defence strategies for Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia

Baltic Bastions

"[...] they will be treated like pigs in their own country". This sentence comes at the end of a long series of blatant threats by Russian President Putin against the three Baltic States, in this case Latvia. The statement was made in response to the alleged mistreatment of Latvia's Russian-speaking population. Such statements cause great fear of attack in these states, which had to fight hard for their independence from Russia. Faced with the feared reduction of Western support for Ukraine and the resulting sharp increase in the potential threat from Russia, the three Baltic States published new defence strategies in 2023. But how do the Baltic States intend to secure their independence, and are these concepts a blueprint for other states?

IMAGO / Lehtikuva

Finland Relies on Popular Politicians in Times of Crisis

Alexander Stubb in first place after the first round of the presidential elections

Finland has enjoyed special attention in the security policy context at least since the country joined NATO in April 2023 and due to its comprehensive strategy of defensive democracy ("total defense"). Hybrid attacks from the Russian side have increased since Russia's attack on Ukraine. Finland recently had to close its border posts in the east due to migration controlled by Russia. The Finnish president, who is directly elected every six years, is the commander-in-chief of the army and is responsible for enacting laws, appointing ministers and foreign and security policy. Sauli Niinistö, who is still in office, negotiated the path from his country's application to NATO membership prudently and purposefully with an overwhelming vote of the Finnish population and thus also received a great deal of international recognition. Alexander Stubb, like Niinistö from the conservative Rally Party, is now likely to succeed him. He received 27.2% of the vote on election night, but was closely followed by Pekka Haavisto, former Green Foreign Minister in the Marin cabinet, with 25.8%.