km. In the end of the year 2015 Eckhard Cordes, chairman of the Eastern Committee of German Economy, had demanded an “entry into the exit from sanctions” against Russia. (see Current Concerns, No. 1 from 15 January 2016). Several other prominent figures of German society have recently supported this demand. Former Chancellor Gerhard Schröder told the business journal “Handelsblatt” in an interview on 15 January 2016: “What I criticize – and the German government is among those who are to blame for this – is the fact that despite evident progress in the implementation of the Minsk treaty sanctions against Russia are not only continued but even extended. This is absurd.” Joachim Rukwied, who is President of the German Farmers Association, demands an end to the sanctions, as well. He uses primarily economic arguments. On 12.1.2016 he told the newspaper “Neue Osnabrücker Zeitung” in an interview Russia’s boycott of European goods was one of the reasons for the bad economic situation of German agriculture: “The situation between the EU and Russia is one reason for the dire conditions many of our farmers are in. The sanctions cost German farmers almost one billion euro per year.” Therefore Rukwied demands: “Efforts to overcome the current embargo have to be intensified.”
Highlighting the situation of German farmers in more detail, the President of the Farmers Association stated in the interview: “In the last fiscal year which ended on 30 June 2015 we had an average loss of income by 35%. Now the first half of the current fiscal year is over and considering the market situation we have to assume incomes to fall by another double-digit per centage. Prices of most agricultural products keep going down. So the general outlook remains critical.” For the individual farmer this means: “A farmer in Baden-Wuerttemberg earns an average of just 2000 euros [i.e. less than 2,200 Swiss francs] pre-tax per month, in other regions it may be 2,500. This may sound not too bad, but from this sum also social security contributions and mortgage rates have to be covered. This leaves him with a gross income of perhaps 1,500 euros per month, and with 70 working hours per week, that is. Meanwhile we have a situation where employees’ income of many farms is higher than the gross profit of the entrepreneur.” •
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