Why you should offer interviews to applicants with gaps in their résumés

Man traveling Azores Portugal
Having come from a non-academic family, I certainly wouldn’t have dared to leave any gaps in my résumé before my first job in a local newsroom.

  • Gaps on your résumé often mean life experience but many people are scared to take time out.
  • I dropped out of my university degree and later left a company job but it made me a better worker.
  • Recruiters should view résumé gaps with curiosity and be more concerned when people don’t have any.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

In between jobs, I’ve chased magic swords. A friend of mine traveled through Vietnam and Thailand. Another spent time taking care of her family and one enjoyed the summer doing nothing at all.

From a human perspective, a gap in your résumé is obviously a good thing – you’ve spent that time having pizza for breakfast, entertaining clever thoughts, learning Spanish vocabulary, or devouring all seven Harry Potter books.

Gaps in your résumé mean freedom and freedom takes courage.

I’m in my mid-30s now, but from 1992 to 2008 when I was preparing for working life, I feared the résumé gap. Career advisors taught us to see them as the death knell to our careers.

“People will ask about it,” we were warned. “And what are you going to say?”

Having come from a non-academic family, I certainly wouldn’t have dared to leave any gaps in my résumé before my first job in a local newsroom.

The fear of plunging myself into “economic ruin” would’ve plagued me and I would’ve been afraid of how I’d justify myself in job interviews – and whether I’d even be able to respond to the dreaded question.

teen playing desktop computer game with headphones graphics
I dropped out of a university degree and spent my days playing computer games.

But now, my advice to anyone with a résumé gap would be to answer boldly.

I dropped out of a university degree and spent my days playing computer games until I finally got a place on a different program. Although that might not seem like a good use of my time, it taught me a very important lesson – if something doesn’t work for me, I have to change it.

At that point, it was my degree, and later on, it was a company I was working for. Both times, it’s been worth it because I’ve been able to better evaluate my situation and think about my skills and what I really want. My life has improved as a result and I’ve become a better worker.

“I don’t have any gaps on my résumé,” one of my acquaintances wrote to me once. “And I regret it.”

The people I know who do have those gaps have told me they took the time off to recover from mental health issues. Many of them decided they wanted to work for themselves during their breaks, and a lot of them have made it happen.

What people learn during their time off from their careers gives them the freedom to think differently and maybe even better. Admitting that is tough because it goes against our ideas about the “ideal worker.”

That’s precisely the problem. What society demands of professionals today isn’t sustainable anymore, or even relevant. If you do your job well only when it works for you, then you are one thing above all else: replaceable.

People do lots of things in their jobs. They develop ideas, help people, solve problems, manage the chaos behind the scenes at large institutions, tackle climate change, teach, calculate, heal, and program.

black woman hiking
Gaps on your résumé often mean you’ve got life experience.

We’re not always equally good at those things and gaps tend to help us improve our performance. We need to remember life isn’t a machine and people aren’t cogs – life is complex.

If we don’t incorporate that into our lifestyles and into our work, then ultimately there won’t be anyone left who can develop the ideas to accommodate our complex lives.

However, gaps are scary. One of my friends is currently looking for a job but she’s scared to spread the word through her networks, whether professional or personal. I think that’s a fatal error.

If we all had the courage to leave gaps in our résumés and if recruiters approached gaps with curiosity rather than apprehension, the world of work would radically change.

Even taking parental leave is considered a “gap” in your résumé – a career inhibitor or something you shouldn’t allow yourself.

The truth is that work experience rarely makes us discover anything about life. We only get that through life experiences.

That’s why I think recruiters should be more concerned when someone comes into an interview without a gap in their résumé.

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Amazon is hiring 5,000 new employees in Germany, with some roles paying up to $82,000 per year

This picture shows the logo of US online retail giant Amazon at the distribution center in Moenchengladbach, western Germany, on December 17, 2019.
The company recently expanded its logistics empire to cope with rising demand over the holiday season.

  • Amazon will hire 5,000 more permanent employees in Germany in areas from shipping to marketing.
  • In a press release, the company said it encouraged applications from those seeking job security.
  • Entry-level Amazon logistics wages range from $13.25 to $14.90 per hour but are location-dependent.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Amazon already has 23,000 employees in Germany but is now looking to add more people to its workforce.

The delivery giant said in a press release on Friday that it would hire another 5,000 staff in areas from shipping to marketing.

Most Amazon employees work in logistics, where entry-level wages range from $13.25 to $14.90 gross per hour depending on the location. Germany’s current minimum wage is $11.14 per hour but will rise to $12.26 by July 2022.

At its logistics center in Sülzetal near Magdeburg, the minimum is $13.92 per hour; in Koblenz, it is $14.19; at the air freight handling facility in Leipzig it’s $15.83. Wages automatically rise after 12 and 24 months.

After two years, employees earned an average of around $3,500 gross per month including restricted employee shares, according to Amazon. There were bonus payments and other benefits.

It hasn’t been an easy year for the German branch of Amazon, with workers striking in June over rising COVID-19 infections at the company and again in October after their COVID-19 bonus payments were scrapped.

German trade union Verdi called for a four-day strike at Easter to demand a pay rise for workers in the retail and mail-order sectors. Amazon has also been subjected to an antitrust investigation over relationships with its third-party sellers in Germany.

In its press release, Amazon said it was calling for applications from those worried about the future of their jobs and was recruiting from a wide range of sectors.

Amazon Logistics Center
Amazon has 15 logistics centers spread across Germany.

“This is a great opportunity for career changers because we are open to a wide range of talents and qualifications,” said Amazon Germany country manager Ralf Kleber.

The company’s German headquarters are located in Munch while its research and development center is in Berlin. There are also a total of 15 logistics centers spread across the country.

Amazon itself does not provide any information about the salaries offered to employees in other sectors. According to employer rating portal Kununu, customer service employees earn about the same as their colleagues in warehouse and shipping.

Kununu’s data showed an account manager at Amazon earned almost $67,000 per year while a marketing officer earned around $62,000 and a human resources officer around $60,000.

According to Glassdoor, software engineers earn significantly more with a salary of over $82,000.

The company recently expanded its logistics empire to cope with rising demand over the holiday season and its delivery service could be worth up to $230 billion by 2025, according to Bank of America estimates.

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The elusive oligarch making Russian COVID-19 vaccine ‘Sputnik V’ criticized the EU for vaccine nationalism

Sputnik V
Russia’s vaccine is now set to go global, with plans for Sputnik V to be used in one in 10 vaccinations worldwide.

  • Dmitry Morozov of pharmaceutical Biocad is the oligarch behind Russia’s Sputnik V COVID-19 vaccine.
  • Sputnik V is now being rolled out worldwide, with plans to use it in one in 10 global vaccinations.
  • However, it faces hurdles in the EU and US as well as Russia with reluctance and supply bottlenecks.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

In Russia, the name Sputnik is associated with innovation, progress, and one of the greatest successes in Soviet history.

When Sputnik 1 became the first human object to reach Earth’s orbit in 1957, Americans watched in amazement.

Over 60 years later, Sputnik is taking the world by storm again, this time as Russia’s flagship COVID-19 vaccine Sputnik V.

Mass production started in September and, despite Russians initially being divided about its potential efficacy, it’s now been rolled out across the country.

Russia’s vaccine is set to go global, with plans for Sputnik V to be used in one in 10 vaccinations worldwide and particularly in Eastern Europe, Latin America, Asia, and Africa.

Vladimir Putin was vaccinated against Covid-19 with Sputnik V, partly to coax those Russians who remain hesitant to go and get the jab.

Dmitry Morozov, an elusive oligarch who heads pharmaceutical company Biocad, is the man behind Sputnik V.

The pharmaceutical company behind the vaccine

Sputnik V is still viewed with a fair degree of skepticism especially in the EU and the US.

Earlier this month, a top official of the European Medicines Agency said approving the vaccine too early would be “somewhat comparable to Russian roulette.”

The vaccine’s official Twitter account then demanded a public apology, saying the official’s comments “raise serious questions about possible political interference in the ongoing EMA review.”

However, Russia is also struggling with supply bottlenecks and according to information from an independent pollster reported by Reuters, over 60% of Russians are unwilling to be vaccinated with Sputnik V.

Biocad is a well-known and well-connected name in the pharmaceutical industry and has been producing drugs for HIV and cancer for years.

US-based Pfizer, which is producing its own vaccine together with BioNTech, was even interested in acquiring Biocad.

Morozov owns 30% of the company and, in September, the company established one of Russia’s most modern production facilities in Zelenograd, north of Moscow.

The company employs 2,500 employees and has 1,500 people working on Sputnik V alone.

The team is also developing a drug for COVID-19 lung disease.

A camera team from Spiegel TV got a rare glimpse into the production of the vaccine, which revealed high levels of security at the factory in St Petersburg.

Complexity inhibits production

According to Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin, 10 million doses of Sputnik V have been produced so far.

However, many more doses are needed to vaccinate Russia and meet global demand.

Vladimir Putin
Russia has approved two other homemade vaccines, CoviVac and EpiVacCorona.

Unlike the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines, Sputnik V is a vector-based vaccine.

This means fragments of the genetic material of the coronavirus are placed in attenuated viruses like adenoviruses.

The adenoviruses deliver genetic information from the coronavirus into the human body.

The body’s cells then respond and produce the virus’s protein, which the immune system can recognize and for which it can produce the body’s required defense substances.

With Sputnik V, however, two different adenoviruses are found in each of the required two doses, administered three weeks apart.

While this makes the vaccine more effective, it also increases the complexity of production.

According to data published in The Lancet, Sputnik V is just under 92% effective and so is roughly as effective as the mRNA vaccines produced by Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna.

Morozov finds the EU countries’ hesitation baffling and has spoken about vaccine nationalism and bureaucracy in the EU, according to World Today News.

In addition to Sputnik V, Russia has approved two other homemade vaccines, CoviVac and EpiVacCorona.

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E-bike boom in Germany: Two million electric bikes sold last year alone

  • 2020 was the year of e-bikes: Around two million people bought new electric bikes in Germany.
  • A total of five million bikes were sold, although sales of non-electric bikes were roughly on par with the previous year.
  • The sharp rise in sales of e-bikes cannot be explained solely by the Corona pandemic. There has already been a positive trend here for several years.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

This is an automated machine translation of an article published by Business Insider in a different language. Machine translations can generate errors or inaccuracies; we will continue the work to improve these translations. You can find the original version here.

Home improvement stores, garden centers, and bike stores have benefited the most from the 2020 Corona restrictions. Bicycle sales increased 17 percent in 2020, according to a recent study by the Two-Wheeler Industry Association (ZIV), though much of that was due to a 43 percent increase in e-bikes sold.

While 1.4 million e-bikes were sold in 2019, this figure had already risen to 2.0 million by 2020. Growth in sales of non-powered bikes was manageable: In 2020, bike stores sold 100,000 more bikes than the year before.

Bike retailers benefit from the e-bike boom

For bicycle dealers, the e-bike trend is bringing goldmine cheer. In 2020, dealers’ sales totaled just under 10 billion euros, of which 6.4 billion euros in sales were attributable to e-bike sales. For several years, the share of e-bikes sold has been increasing compared to normal bicycles.

The average price of a bike sold is striking: a proud 1,279 euros were paid on average, which is approximately 40 percent more than in the previous year. The ZIV sees here the trend that more and more citizens are reaching for high-quality and safe products.

Soon, half of all bicycles sold will have an electric drive.

Thus, significantly more bicycles are sold with electric drive than without, which is due to the advanced technology and the general enthusiasm of citizens. According to the ZIV, in the medium and long term, e-bikes could account for as much as 50 percent of all bicycles sold. Currently, the number of bicycles in Germany is estimated at 79.1 million with 7.1 million e-bikes, but again, the ratio is likely to change in the future.

Currently, the market is tight due to extremely high demand, and longer delivery times may occur in some cases. However, spare parts are not currently affected. The ZIV expects a further increase in the number of e-bikes sold in Germany in the coming year.

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Ford paves the way as the first automaker to allow 86,000 employees to work from home permanently

Ford logo
Ford’s new policy will be introduced in July.

  • Ford has become the first auto company to announce employees can work from home in the long-term.
  • The company will explore flexible arrangements from July, depending on individual responsibilities.
  • A survey showed 95% of employees wanted a hybrid form of working and felt more productive at home.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Ford has become the first automobile company to shift towards remote working on a permanent basis, according to CNBC, with around 86,000 employees being allowed to work at least partially from home.

The policy is aimed at office workers rather than factory workers, who number around 100,000 and have largely returned to work.

Hybrid work plans and remote working will depend on individual and managerial responsibilities.

“The nature of the work we do really is going to be a guiding element,” chief people and employee experiences officer Kiersten Robinson told CNBC. “If there’s one thing we’ve learned over the last 12 months, it is that a lot of our assumptions around work and what employees need has shifted.”

Ford’s new policy will be introduced in July when most employees are expected to make at least a partial return to the office after more than a year.

“The nature of work drives whether or not you can adopt this model. There are certain jobs that are place-dependent – you need to be in the physical space to do the job,” chairman and chief executive of Ford Land, David Dubensky, told The Washington Post.

“Having the flexibility to choose how you work is pretty powerful,” Dubensky added. “It’s up to the employee to have dialogue and discussion with their people leader to determine what works best.”

Remote work coronavirus
95% of Ford employees wanted a hybrid form of working.

According to a survey conducted at Ford in June 2020, 95% of employees wanted a hybrid form of working and a number of them felt more productive at home.

The move from Ford comes after major companies including Google, Spotify, and Salesforce all announced that they were offering their employees the option to work from home permanently.

A survey conducted in January by the National Association for Business Economics suggested just one in 10 companies expected employees to return to the office after the pandemic.

“These companies are all looking at each other,” associate professor at Michigan State University’s School of Human Resources and Labor Relations, Angela Hall, told The Detroit News. “And especially someone like Ford, who is a large, respected employer – people are going to model that behavior.”

The Washington Post also reported that General Motors and Toyota were looking at flexible options for a return to the office, although they are both yet to announce new policies.

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Ransomware incidents increase 4-fold in 2 years: Spain suffered fewer attacks and was more aware in 2020 than USA, France or Italy

This is an automated machine translation of an article published by Business Insider in a different language. Machine translations can generate errors or inaccuracies; we will continue the work to improve these translations. You can find the original version here.

Ransomware is a type of malicious code that when introduced into the systems of a company or an organization is dedicated to encrypting all its files and spread across all devices. It has thus become a favorite weapon of cybercriminal groups who then demand ransoms from their victims in exchange for a return to normality.

Precisely because of the pandemic, such incidents increased by nearly 90% according to a VMware report. Now, expanding the focus, CrowdStrike ensures in a new document that this type of cyber-attacks has increased 4-fold from January 2019 to the present.

An increase of 300%, according to the Global Threat Report for 2021. Although only a few cases are reported in the media -the most recent and controversial is the cyberattack with Ryuk that has left the systems of the Public Employment Service out of service-, the reality is that cyberattacks with ransomware are the order of the day.

The second half of 2019 already saw a wave of cyberattacks that fiercely hit some Spanish companies such as Everis and Prosegur. Just before the pandemic began in March last year, a hospital in Torrejón de Ardoz suffered a cyberattack that caused many healthcare workers to have to operate without IT resources.

Unions and Computer Science associations explode and denounce precariousness and lack of resources in the administration while the SEPE tries to recover from the cyber-attack.

During the pandemic, the situation worsened even more. SegurCaixa Adeslas or Mapfre suffered cyber-attacks of this kind. In addition, one of the worst fears of the cybersecurity industry came true: cybercriminal groups no longer limited themselves to ‘kidnapping’ and ‘encrypting’ their victims’ information: they also began to steal it in order to leak it to the public if ransoms were not paid. It happened, for example, to the Spanish railway infrastructure company, Adif.

CrowdStrike’s new report, which has been compiled using its network analysis tools and information from various vendors, also highlights that intrusions aimed at stealing information on COVID-19 vaccines have been one of the main targets of cybercriminals.

Another statistic from the cybersecurity company states that 40% of companies in Spain suffered a ransomware attack during the most complicated period of the pandemic last year. Out of the 100%, 23% of the firms acknowledge that they suffered one attack, and 17% that they suffered more than one.

However, the data shown by the Spanish cybersecurity ecosystem are very positive. In a table drawn up by the firm, Spain is the second country in which the companies consulted suffered the fewest attacks with ransomware. It is only surpassed by the United Kingdom, where 39% of the companies detected intrusions in their systems.

By neighboring countries, France acknowledges that 60% of its companies suffered ransomware incidents. The number is similar in Germany, with 59%. In Italy, 56%. In the United States, 58%. The global average is that 63% of the companies surveyed suffered cyber-attacks of this type.

This is what cybercriminals pay on the dark web for your data: stolen Spanish credit cards are among the most expensive, only 30 euros.

But Spain also stands out in something else. Of all those surveyed in Spain, 45% acknowledged that they had not suffered any ransomware incident but recognized that it could happen in the coming months. Of all the Spanish cybersecurity specialists consulted by the company, only 14% considered it unlikely that they would suffer an attack of this type.

That 45% is the highest percentage of all the countries surveyed by the firm. Specialists in France or Italy, for example, considered 28% and 27% that they could suffer incursions such as those described.

The high percentage of Spanish cybersecurity experts who admit that they could suffer a cyberattack of this kind in the coming months can be interpreted in two ways. Either they are resigned because they lack all the defenses they should have, or they are clearly aware that incidents can happen at any time.

The CrowdStrike survey has been done with 2,200 cybersecurity professionals around the world, of which 1,100 have a position with which they make decisions in their companies and the other 1,100 are professionals. In Spain, 100 people were surveyed.

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The SEPE did not have certificates from the Cryptologic Center at the time it suffered its great hacking

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The SEPE continues at half throttle in the wake of the cyberattack it suffered last week. While its system technicians are trying to restore all services as quickly as possible, day after day details are emerging about what happened behind the incident.

One of these details is that the Public Employment Service was not yet certified by the National Cryptologic Center. The CCN is a body under the CNI that ensures compliance and certification of administrations and companies on the National Security Scheme.

According to Invertia this Thursday, the employment agency was not on the list of administrations certified in the National Security Scheme of the CCN. The list does include several regional ministries of Andalusia, several city councils, and various entities of the General State Administration. The list is public and accessible and can be consulted here.

Specialist sources consulted by the economic media point out that the adaptation to the National Security Scheme is “an ongoing process” and that the CCN is already working precisely with the SEPE in adapting and adapting its computer systems to the requirements demanded by this certification.

What is known at the moment is that the SEPE was hit by a ransomware-type malicious code known as Ryuk. When the news came out on Tuesday, which was reported by Vozpópuli, the agency’s technicians had to shut down all the systems in order to prevent the intruder program from spreading through the entity’s internal networks.

This computer blackout lasted for days, which forced SEPE officials to work for days with pen and paper, taking notes of the job seekers who requested an appointment or a procedure, while waiting for normality to be restored.

Cyber-attacks on the administration soar after the blow to the SEPE: a tax agency warns that it is being supplanted with malicious emails.

Ransomware usually hits companies and public administrations with the aim of encrypting files, hard disks, and, in general, an organization’s servers. When the organization is compromised, it usually receives a message from the cyber criminals operating the attacking program demanding a ransom if the victim wants to get back to normal.

In recent months, these ransomware attacks have been transformed and cybercriminals now also engage in a second form of blackmail: if victims do not pay the ransom, the cyber criminals threaten to publish all the sensitive information they have stolen during the attack.

Colleges, unions, and associations have lamented the disinvestment in cybersecurity that has taken place in recent years in the public administration. ASTIC, an organization of systems technicians from the administration itself, warned in a recent communiquéthat the pandemic had prioritized the continuity of services or business over security. It claimed that it was time to “make up for lost time”.

It is still unclear how Ryuk was able to reach SEPE. Ransomware can be distributed via malicious phishing emails and botnets. In other words: they are not always targeted, premeditated attacks.

During the worst months of the pandemic, many of the cybercriminal collectives operating this ransomware promised that they would not attack hospitals, healthcare facilities, or laboratories. However, many of these malicious codes, when distributed by armies of bots-imprisoners, webcams, compromised servers and controlled as if it were an army of zombies – sometimes shooting everything.

Some specialists pointed out to Business Insider Spain that the attack could well have come that way or through phishing known as spear phishing. Just like a fraudulent email masquerading as a legitimate message, spear phishing has the particularity that in order to work, the attackers have spied on and studied a person to the millimeter.

For example, these cybercriminals could have sent a fraudulent email to a SEPE employee pretending to be a relative or a friend, which would make him trust and click on a link he should not have clicked on and which automatically downloaded Ryuk onto the SEPE’s computer systems.

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Appetites for pleasure are changing – Poles buy more lube, fewer condoms

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Poles are trying to make the situation caused by the pandemic more pleasant. Double-digit increases are recorded among others in the sale of wine or lubricants – writes wiadomoscihandlowe.pl. The website points out that the demand for condoms is falling.

As we read, NielsenIQ data show that last year the sales of food and chemical products grew strongly. Interestingly, the pandemic has increased Poles’ appetite for various kinds of pleasure. Thus the sales of wine (11 percent), olives (12 percent), moldy cheese (13 percent), bath lotions (12 percent), and scented candles increased.

Magdalena Piwkowska, trends & content development leader at the Nielsen agency, says that growths were also recorded in lube ( 15 percent) and stimulating products ( 15 percent) – vibrators and vibrating pads.

See also: Pandemic proved salutary for Frisco store. Eurocash results surprised the market

During the pandemic, Poles buy more lubricants and fewer condoms

The sales of condoms, on the other hand, fell, although – as wiadomoscihandlowe.pl reports – the trend of falling sales in the channels monitored by NielsenIQ was also visible before the pandemic.

Piwkowska points out that “in the Czech Republic, during the panic buying period, there was even “stockpiling” of the condom category (21%). – Subsequently, their sales slowed down, while the sales of stimulants and pregnancy tests increased,” the expert said quoted by the website.

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Why German Agriculture Minister Klöckner doesn’t listen to recommendations from nature conservation associations

  • Germany alone has received around 6.2 billion euros from the EU in each of the past few years to support its own farmers.
  • Nature conservation organizations criticize that a large part flows into subsidies that farmers receive merely for their farmed areas. So the bigger the farm, the more money there is. Environmental requirements do not have to be met. They are therefore calling for the abolition of such direct payments.
  • But Agriculture Minister Julia Klöckner (CDU) wants to stick to the existing system and tie the subsidies only slightly to environmental requirements. Recommendations of the associations will not be taken into account.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

This is an automated machine translation of an article published by Business Insider in a different language. Machine translations can generate errors or inaccuracies; we will continue the work to improve these translations. You can find the original version here.

For years, conservationists and animal rights activists have been at odds with representatives of farmers’ and food associations over EU agricultural subsidies. The environmentalists demand that the billions in subsidies only be paid out if farmers meet environmental requirements. The farmers’ lobby, on the other hand, is sticking to subsidies without such requirements. To date, there is no consensual solution as to how the money should be distributed.

It is a contentious issue that is currently also being discussed in the so-called “Commission on the Future of Agriculture”. Chancellor Angela Merkel (CDU) set up the body at the end of 2020 as a “forum for reconciling interests”. The 31 members are to develop new approaches to agricultural policy for the next ten years. Opponents such as nature conservationists and animal rights activists as well as farmers’ and agricultural associations sit at the table.

However, nature and animal conservationists are now accusing Agriculture Minister Julia Klöckner (CDU) of not listening to the expert opinions of the commission. Instead, she is stubbornly pursuing her own plans. This gives the impression that she merely does not want to scare away farmers as potential voters for the CDU/CSU shortly before the Bundestag elections.

Tax money flows partly unconditionally to farmers

Behind the dispute lies a larger problem: “Currently, billions of taxpayer dollars are being given unconditionally to farmers who poison groundwater, accelerate species extinction, and drive climate change,” criticizes Martin Kaiser, executive director of Greenpeace Germany, for example, in an interview with Business Insider. “If we take the climate crisis seriously, the system has to be changed,” he says. Otherwise, the billions in taxes that farmers receive from subsidies could no longer be justified.

In fact, Germany receives around 6.2 billion euros a year from the European Union under the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) to support its own farmers. But of the subsidies for Germany, a large portion (4.9 billion euros) goes to grants that farmers receive for their land alone. So the bigger the farm, the more money there is. It is supposed to secure their income, even if prices fluctuate. In return, however, they have hardly had to comply with environmental or animal welfare regulations. Farmers who do not keep their animals in a species-appropriate manner or who emit a lot of greenhouse gases also receive money.

Klöckner’s plan on agriculture could change the subsidy system

Julia Klöckner (CDU) would now have the chance to change the system. She is currently working on a national strategy for how EU money will be distributed in Germany in concrete terms over the next seven years. Since the Commission for the Future is also dealing with these issues, it would actually make sense to wait for the experts’ recommendations there first. But that is apparently not what is wanted.

According to Uwe Feiler (CDU), Parliamentary State Secretary at the Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture, the commission is not expected to comment on current events. That NGOs publish their own maximum demands is legitimate, he said. But they should not give the impression that they are speaking for the Future Commission on Agriculture as a whole, Feiler added. After all, there is not yet a unified position on the Common Agricultural Policy and its mandate is a longer-term one.

This is criticism that nature and animal conservationists, however, do not want to accept. With the national plan for agriculture, Julia Klöckner (CDU) is now setting the course for the next seven years, says Martin Kaiser. Billions of taxpayers’ money could be used to achieve the goals of the Paris climate protection agreement in agriculture by 2027. But if Klöckner sticks to the system of unconditional payments, as it currently looks like, these targets can no longer be achieved in time. This would also mean that further work in the Commission would no longer make sense.

The Commission was already working on a statement

In addition, the commission had been much further ahead than the ministry claimed. Accordingly, a working group of the Commission had already formulated a draft for a statement of the body on agricultural subsidies at the end of January. It stated that the current area-based direct payments should be “gradually and largely to completely” abolished and the subsidies should instead be tied to environmental protection requirements. This was a historic step, as it was the first time that environmentalists and farmers’ associations had been able to reach an agreement on this issue, at least internally. The only thing that remained open was the date on which the subsidies were to be abolished: The wording only provided for “in the course of the next two subsidy periods”, i.e. until 2027 or until 2034.

However, Klöckner apparently tried to prevent precisely this statement by the Commission, according to Commission circles. According to her own plans, she wants to continue to pay out 60 to 70 percent of the subsidies depending on the area. For it suggests environmental protection conditions, but the nature protection federation Germany (Nabu) had criticized it as insufficient. Klöckner is not talking about abolishing the area subsidies.

Klöckner is said to have wanted to prevent a statement from the Commission

According to sources within the Commission, the minister’s interference in the panel’s work is said to have gone so far that Klöckner made phone calls to Commission members before and even during a meeting in February to discuss the statement on agricultural subsidies in order to prevent a final official statement.

When asked by Business Insider, the German Ministry of Agriculture and Food does not comment on the matter.

The response only says that the EU’s Common Agricultural Policy is already facing a system change. In the future, every euro of subsidy money is to be linked to environmental and climate requirements, among other things. In addition, the Commission for the Future of Agriculture is an independent commission. The members are, of course, free to agree on the transformation of direct payments.

Criticism comes from former Agriculture Minister Renate Künast (Greens): “The fact that Ms. Klöckner is not starting to systematically transform agricultural subsidies is a betrayal of young people because this sector does too little for climate protection,” she tells Business Insider. But it is also a betrayal of farming families, she adds, because she does not help them or reward them when they convert their farms to be climate-friendly.

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Crack in the German trade association: Non-food retailers like Kik criticize special treatment for food retailers

  • In light of the ongoing partial lockdown, many non-food retailers such as Kik, Deichmann and S.Oliver are complaining about unequal treatment by politicians compared to food retailers. They have therefore launched an initiative to make their voices heard before politicians.
  • As Business Insider has learned from industry circles, some members are not satisfied with the representation by the German Retail Association (HDE). The HDE, they say, is closer to food retailers than to non-food retailers.
  • The head of Kik, for example, emphasizes that the initiative was created together with the HDE, but also says that a uniform representation of interests across the different sectors is not always easy.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

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German retailers have been in lockdown for months. For many non-food retailers, the situation is now “dramatic,” warned the head of fashion retailer Breuninger recently, for example. While grocery stores and drugstores have been allowed to remain open without restriction, many other businesses are facing the loss of their livelihood.

That is why tensions have now formed within the German Retail Association (HDE). “Non-food retailers fear for their livelihoods, while food retailers and drugstores are raking in record sales,” said Kik CEO Patrick Zahn when asked by Business Insider. What the textile discounter CEO particularly dislikes is that many grocery retailers have expanded their offerings of apparel and other non-food products during the crisis, he said. “This imbalance needs to be addressed equally within the association and externally,” Zahn says.

As Business Insider has learned from industry circles, some non-food retailers are not entirely satisfied with the HDE’s representation. The tenor: due to the HDE’s historically closer ties with the food trade, the association has not done enough for the interests of textile and non-food retailers. The focus here is on HDE President Josef Sanktjohanser, who as a former board member at Rewe has already represented the strong position of food retailers in the leading association for 15 years.

“Differences of interest within the association” must be balanced out

In the past, Kik has “always maintained a professional and extremely helpful exchange with the HDE’s specialist departments” and the HDE has represented its interests well, explains Kik boss Patrick Zahn. At the same time, however, he lets it be known that “the current exceptional situation has shown, however, that there is an increased need for internal coordination between the food retail sector, which is traditionally strongly represented in the HDE, on the one hand, and the non-food sector, on the other.” This wording strengthens the suspicion that there is a feeling of internal unequal treatment. This issue needs to be addressed together with the HDE, it continues. Uniform representation of interests is not always easy to establish across its large number of members and their different sectors.

The companies Thalia, Kik, ECE, Breuninger, S.Oliver, Deichmann, Garhammer, Ernsting’s family, and Katag, therefore, joined forces in February to form the initiative “Das Leben gehört ins Zentrum” (Life belongs in the center) to make their interests heard vis-à-vis politicians. Not against, but alongside the HDE, as Zahn emphasizes. The German Retail Association (HDE) and around 50 other well-known companies support the alliance, according to the website. The campaign organizers initiated meetings with the Minister of Economics and Finance, at which they presented, among other things, a 7-point plan “for safe, hygienic store opening to revitalize German city centers.”

On the one hand, the initiative calls for equal treatment with the grocery trade and for the possibility of reopening stores to be based not only on current incidence figures but also on the occupancy of intensive care beds. Representatives also called for eliminating the sales cap on Corona aid. Because the nine campaign initiators all have sales of more than one billion euros a year under normal circumstances, they previously did not receive any state compensation for losses, as this only applied to companies with annual sales of up to 750 million euros. This regulation was abolished by Economics Minister Altmaier (CDU) at the beginning of March – but only after the meeting, following pressure from the company bosses. This was an initial success for the initiative.

But wouldn’t this have been the task of the trade association?

The association defends itself. “It is more than understandable that the nerves of many forcibly closed dealers are bare. Nevertheless, we have achieved a lot for our retailers, especially in the non-food sector,” it says. For example, HDE President Sanktjohanser has represented the entire retail sector to politicians and the public in top-level talks with members of the German government and the Chancellor, such as last week’s social partner dialog. There, for example, he had called for the “necessary opening perspective and finally effective economic aid” for the closed trade in talks with the Chancellor. The association had accompanied the initiative from the beginning and welcomed it, “as creative, attention-grabbing and joint campaigns such as these, which optimally and visibly complement the political representation of interests of the HDE.”

There are even reports from non-food retailers that they are considering splitting off from the HDE. So far, however, none of the companies has officially confirmed this. The textile discounter Kik informs Business Insider on request: “Kik is not involved in such considerations and can therefore not confirm this plan.”

The non-food retailers’ own initiative could be interpreted as a solo effort out of frustration. However, no retailer wants to admit this openly, although the statements of the Kik boss also indicate this. A Deichmann spokesman also said that the initiative sees itself as a “cooperative, constructive complement to the HDE, which represents the entire industry well, and works hand in hand with it.” S.Oliver CEO Claus-Dietrich Lahrs also told Business Insider something similar.

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