Monday, February 27, 2012

"The Economy in Europe" by Kerstin Ulrich

Our teacher asked me if I could tell about the development in Europe in the last sixty years. What about the time after world war II, from 1945 until now? The question is: why is the European, especially the German economy better, than the American economy? To begin with, I have to say that I'm not an economist, but our family is very interested in politics and economics.

I want to start by talking about education. I think a quality education is a "treasure" for every nation. In Germany there are two branches of education. The first branch is for very smart students. They go 12 years to school. After the exam, the special name is "Abitur", these students usually enroll for a study at a university. A few years ago a uniform exam was introduced, the "Central-Abitur" for all students in entire Germany.

The second branch is for most of the students. They go 10 years to school, and they have to pass an exam as though for a high-school-diploma. After that school program, almost all young people in Germany get job training. It takes 2-3 years. The job training is specialized. It depends on the profession the students want to follow in the future. The pupils become qualified in companies, factories, restaurants, hospitals, etcetera, and in addition they get theoretical instruction in special schools for plumbers, electricians, or in special schools for nurses, etcetera. That is very important. It is like a school program. After 2 or 3 years the students have to pass an assessment test, and then it is possible for them to apply for a position in their field.

In fact almost all students learn a specialized profession. Now I try to explain the different economies in Europe as a whole. In Europe there is a single (internal) market, with a standardized system of law for example: no taxes between the European countries. Since we have established the uniform European currency, the import and export is much easier. Almost all European states are united to the "European Union". It is an economic and political union or confederation of 27 member states.

The EU (European Union) works though a system of special institutions and intern-governmental negotiated decisions by the member states. The foundation of EU was already created 1958 with 6 states. After world war II our country got a huge support from the USA through the "Marshall plan". In the present day in Germany the social partnership exists. That means employees and employer work together as co-managers or workers' participation. We work in a social market economy, that is balancing the interests between enterprise and employees. Our small and medium sized companies are very important. They are named the "Backbone of German economy". These companies get financial support from the government because it is harder for small concerns to exist than a huge company like "Volkswagen" or "Siemens" or "Bayer" (pharmaceutical c.).

The small and medium sized companies are family owned and they are especially closely related to their employees. These companies have a high flexibility. This means for example if there are not enough contracts or work the employees don't get laid off immediately. In that case, the working-hours will be reduced for less money. Germany organizes special programs for women. The small companies are very creative and innovative thus stimulating jobs. They have a lot of interesting ideas. In times of crises, these companies try to survive in this manner, which is explained above.

The EU produces a lot of high quality products. Our opinion is that with these products it is much better and easier to react to problems of the world (global) market than strictly financial companies can react. You can see it is a very complex, difficult, and interesting topic.