Access to and functioning of the market
As part of the European Union, Germany applies EU customs standards. European customs regulations are rather liberal. However, they impose strict controls on certain imported goods, such as textiles and agricultural products. They are therefore strictly monitored in relation to European CAP, which aims to protect agriculture in the member states from foreign production. For example, the presence of GMO must be strictly marked on the packaging of products. Another example is that hormone-fed beef is banned in the European Union.
From a pricing point of view, only trading with non-EU countries is taxed, at a rate which is nonetheless low (on average 4%). On the administrative side, EU states must fill out an Intrastat declaration when importing. For foreign countries, an Entry Summary Declaration is necessary to ensure more secure trading, as desired by the World Trade Organization.
The transportation of goods in Germany is facilitated by a dense network including roads, railways and waterways, as well as air. There are more than 40,000 kilometers of railway in the country. The 11,000 kilometers of motorway and 7,500 kilometers of waterway also provide suitable transportation solutions. The main German industrial sectors are: automotive, electrotechnics, mechanical engineering and chemistry.
Minimum working hours are 48 hours per week. There is no minimum wage in Germany. However, in reality, some sectors have set lower limits (for example, 8.40 EUR/hour in construction). Retirement age is set at 67 years, and social security contributions are set at 20.9% for employers and employees.
21% of employees belong to trade unions. Trade unions have a significant influence on employment, despite having more presence in the East than in the West of the country. Most trade unions belong to the Confederation of German Trade Unions.
The German executive power is held by the Chancellor (Angela Merkel) elected by an absolute majority by the Federal Assembly for 4 years. The President is the Head of State, but his title is essentially honorary (Joachim Gauck). Federal Ministers are appointed by the President, and guided by the Chancellor.
The legislative power is composed of the Federal Assembly, with 613 members elected by universal suffrage, and the Federal Council. The legislative power, i.e. the Parliament, supports the executive power and can only be dissolved by the President.
The major German political parties are :
- Christian Democratic Union
- Christian Social Union
- Social Democratic Party
- Free Democratic Party
- Green Party