June 2023: 8 changes affecting expats in Germany
Over 10 million people in Germany now have a 49-euro Deutschlandticket and the sticky, breezy-bike-ride, dip-in-the-lake evenings of the summer months are all stretched out ahead of us. As the seasons depart and arrive, here’s what's changing in Germany this June.
1. Deutsche Bahn passenger rights will change
Complaining about Deutsche Bahn is arguably Germany’s national sport, and just ahead of the summer rush of 49-euro ticket trips within and beyond the country’s borders, Europe’s biggest rail company has given the public some more complaint fodder.
From June 7, Deutsche Bahn passengers will no longer be able to claim compensation for certain mishaps that the rail company says are beyond its control. This includes extreme weather, people clambering across the tracks and people stealing cables. If your train is delayed for any of these reasons, you can no longer expect to get a refund for your troubles.
2. NATO exercise will disrupt passenger flights
"Air Defender 23" is the largest air exercise in the history of NATO. Occurring between June 12 and 23, 2023, the operation will involve 220 aircraft from 24 NATO members, with around 10.000 ground, air and support troops participating.
In the skies above Schleswig-Holstein, Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, Lower Saxony, Rhineland-Palatinate, the Netherlands, and Czechia, the 220 aircraft will conduct their exercises. However, the majority of the action will be seen in the skies above Lachfeld in Bavaria. During parts of the exercise, significant airspace in southern Germany will be closed to commercial flights.
For more information about the exercise itself, check out the Bundeswehr website.
3. Kids will get the KulturPass
Starting in mid-June all teens in Germany who are set to turn 18 during 2023 will receive a KulturPass (culture pass) funded by the government. The pass will be a voucher worth 200 euros that teens can use to book tickets for museum, cinema and concert visits, or even to buy books or records, all without breaking the bank.
All 18-year-olds living in Germany can download their pass on the KulturPass mobile app and are eligible regardless of whether they hold German citizenship or not.
4. Baukindergeld subsidy will be replaced
Until 2022, families in Germany were able to apply for Baukindergeld, a subsidy designed to support those who wanted to build or buy a property. From June, Baukindergeld will be replaced with Wohneigentum für Familien (WEF).
The subsidy is designed for families with low to middle incomes. Eligible families must earn an annual household salary of no more than 60.000 euros and eventually live in the property they plan to build or buy. This upper limit also increases by 10.000 euros per child and the loan itself ranges from 140.000 to 240.000 euros.
5. Galeria Kaufhof and Karstadt will close in 20 German cities
The staple of many German high streets, back in March Galeria Kaufhof and partner company Karstadt announced that it would close 52 stores across the country. An initial 21 shops will close by the end of June 2023, and an additional 31 will disappear by the end of January 2024.
This summer, shops in Hamburg, Munich, Leipzig and 17 other German cities will shut their doors. Then, from January 31, 2024, branches in Berlin, Düsseldorf, Frankfurt, Stuttgart, Bremen and 35 other locations will close for good.
Kaufhof currently employs 17.400 retail workers in 129 shops nationwide. Now, according to the Kaufhof-Kardstadt workers council, 5.000 employees will lose their jobs due to the closures.
6. School summer holidays begin in NRW
School summer holidays in Germany are staggered throughout July, August and September in order to prevent the overwhelming of public transport. In the majority of Germany’s federal states, school summer holidays begin sometime in the middle of July.
Children in North Rhine-Westphalia however, are lucky enough to begin their weeks-long summer break a little earlier than their contemporaries in other Bundesländer. In NRW, school’s out for summer from June 22 and children will return to the classroom on August 4.
7. Pharmacy workers will go on strike
On June 14, employees working at German pharmacies will walk out in protest against the government’s health policies. In a statement on the Federal Association of German Pharmacists (ABDA) website, representative Gabriela Regina said that the protest day across Germany has been sparked by “supply bottlenecks, staff shortages and underfunding that has existed for years.”
Regina added that “the federal government repeatedly overlooks the problems of public pharmacies in its legislative proposals [and] [...] is destabilising the supply of medicines in Germany.”
If you’re unlucky and need to make a trip to the Apotheke on June 14, emergency branches will still be open.
8. Bye-bye Corona Warn-App
Coronavirus regulations in Germany are beginning to feel more and more like a distant memory. From June, another remnant of the COVID years will be resigned to the past (removed from the Google and Apple app stores).
Germany’s Corona Warn-App will go into “Ruhemodus” (sleep mode) from June 1. Though it will no longer be available for download, if you already have the app installed it will remain available on your mobile along with the vaccine certificates and in-app contact diary that you may have uploaded.
Thumb image credit: KrimKate / Shutterstock.com