Germany boasts the world’s fourth largest economy and is a leader in European economic, political and security affairs. Germany shares borders with nine European countries only one of which is not an EU member, and that is Switzerland. Denmark borders the north, Poland and the Czech Republic to the east, Austria to the south, France to the southwest and Belgium, Luxembourg and the Netherlands to the west.
It has an inland navigation system surpassing all others in the world. The Rhine River flows northward from Switzerland and is Germany’s second longest river. The Danube River flows through nine other European countries and is the longest river to pass through Germany. The Main is the longest river flowing entirely within Germany.
Germany has a population of 82,67 million, making it the most populous in the European Union (EU), and it is also a Schengen country. The country has the world’s fourth-largest economy and is Europe’s largest. It is the third-largest exporter, with exports contributing to more than a third of Germany’s total GDP. German export strength lies in manufacturing more so than services.
Germany was in ruins after losing World War II. In 1949 the country divided into the Federal Republic of Germany in the west, and the Communist German Democratic Republic in the east. West Germany soon recovered to become Europe’s richest country while East Germany lacked considerably. Germany was central in the Cold War between the Soviet Union and Western powers. East and West reunified in 1989, which ended the Cold War. Germany spent billions modernising the former communist East Germany.
Forty-two of Germany’s architectural monuments, historical towns and natural landscapes are UNESCO world heritage sites. Germany also offers theme parks, such as Europa-Park in Rust – Germany’s number 1 theme park and Phantasialand. Castles and historical sites are to be found across the country, from Erfurt with its medieval charm, the vineyards and knights’ castles of Moselle Valley to Cologne Cathedral.
Dresden has rich cultural appeal, Rothenburg ob der Tauber takes you back to the Middle Ages, and natural attractions include the Black Forest and Berchtesgaden National Park – a summer and winter wonderland. Christmas Markets spring up in market squares from Nuremberg to Hamburg and from Dresden to Cologne in the weeks before Christmas.
The European Commission has proposed a visa waiver system, the European Travel Information and Authorization System, which will impact Australians when it is implemented around 2021. The system resembles Australia’s ETA, European Travel Authority. Nationals currently enjoying the benefits of the visa liberation policy when visiting EU and Schengen countries will have to apply for ETIAS pre-authorisation before travelling to these countries after 2021.
The reason behind this pre-authorisation system is the recent terrorism and uncontrolled immigrant issues experienced in Europe. This pre-authorisation system will identify these and associated risks during the online application process before they even appear at the borders. An improved level of security across Europe is envisaged after the rollout, although current Schengen restrictions will still apply.
Germans arrived in Australia with the first European settlers in 1788. At least seventy-three Germans arrived in Australia as convicts. Following the ultimate failure of the European Revolutions of 1848, many Germans emigrated to Australia. After World War II, an influx of ethnic Germans made up a great proportion of Australia’s post-war immigrants. German scientists were also recruited through the ESTEA scheme. German immigration floated on assisted migration programs through the 1950s and 60s.
Australia and Germany have aligned interests and perspectives on many issues as outlined in the Berlin-Canberra Declaration of Intent on a Strategic Partnership. They work closely in many multilateral forums to address global economic governance, counter-terrorism, poverty alleviation, climate change and non-proliferation and disarmament issues.
Germany is Australia’s tenth-largest trade partner, with a multi-billion-dollar two-way goods and services trade. Australia’s goods and services exports to Germany sees goods accounting for a little more than half and include oilseeds, gold coins, precious metal ores and concentrates, coal and pharmaceutical products. Germany is Australia’s fifth-largest source of imports, comprising mostly goods, including cars, medication, pharmaceuticals and goods vehicles.
Germany is the sixth-largest destination for Australian investment abroad and is worth over 65 billion dollars. Germany is Australia’s thirteenth-largest source of foreign investment, amounting to almost 40 billion dollars, including automotive and manufacturing, information and communications technology, pharmaceuticals and finance.
Australia sees a large presence of German companies across many industries, including automotive and advanced manufacturing, pharmaceuticals/chemicals, logistics and transport and banking and insurance. A number of Australian companies also operate in Germany.
Strong ties in innovation and research are to be seen in over 500 partnerships and cooperation agreements between Australian and German universities. The German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) and Universities Australia signed a Scheme to support bilateral research exchanges. Australian established an innovation landing pad in Berlin to assist Australian start-ups and entrepreneurs in accessing business development, investment and mentorship in Germany and across Europe.
ETIAS will impact Australians wanting to enter Germany once it is in effect. Australians now only require a valid travel document to enter this Schengen and EU country. After 2021 Australians will need to apply online, a process which takes only minutes, and pay the nominal fee. The authorisation is granted or refused within minutes and authorisation is electronically attached to the passport.