our top story: the long—awaited mueller report into russian intereference in the 2016 us presidential election says there was no collusion with the trump campaign. however it does not exonerate the us president. the heavily redacted report detailed 10 episodes where the president was scrutinised for obstruction ofjustice. it also said donald trump tried to get robert mueller fired. however donald trump said the findings of the report totally exonerated him. he tweeted that it was now "game over" for his opponents. and this story is trending on bbc.com facebook has banned a dozen british far—right groups, including the british national party and the english defence league, from having any presence on its social media networks. it said they violated rules about promoting hate and violence. now on bbc news, hardtalk‘s
stephen sackur is in berlin for an exclusive interview with germany's vice chancellor and finance minister olaf scholz. welcome to hardtalk from berlin, i'm stephen sackur. 30 years after unification, germany is still the economic powerhouse of europe, but is it running out of gas? growth is down, so are exports, and critics say the german economy is dangerously reliant on the technologies of the past, not the future. today i have an exclusive interview with germany's vice chancellor and finance minister olaf scholz. is germany's economic model in trouble? vice chancellor olaf scholz,
welcome to hardtalk. in the 30 years since german unification, we've become used to germany as the dominant powerhouse economy of europe, but right now the german economy is faltering. there are clear weaknesses. how worried are you? i am not very worried, because we have just softer growth, which is not a recession. it is far away from that. well, it is not far away from recession. you nearly sank into recession at the beginning of the year. no, it is far away from that. if you are a really globalised economy, if you are a big exporter and importer, all the developments in the world economy have an impact on the development of your country, and we know that there is a slowing of the growth for the economy, this is happening to germany, and we know where this comes from. it is mostly political reasons, tensions between the united states and china for instance,
and trade questions, possible tensions between the united states and the european union, which i hope will not take place, and also the brexit. we will talk about all of those tensions, i promise you, but i am very mindful that just a short time ago, at the spring meeting of the imf, germany came in for a great deal of criticism, including from the finance minister of france, your partner in the european union, bruno lemaire, he said countries with solid budgets must invest more. it is quite clear he was talking about germany. he said those with the means shouldn't horde their money for years and years, allowing growth to deteriorate. very pointed comments directly at you. it is absolutely clear that we have a european debate about the european economy, and if you look at the german economy and the big corporates from germany, you see they invest all over europe,
so it is absolutely ok that anyone is discussing questions like this. but, as i said, we have a very good development in our economy still. we have the highest number of people employed ever and the number of employed people will grow. if someone would find out how 500,000 ori million people could enter the german labour market, they will be employed in a second, and this is not a difficult economic situation. it is something we have to deal with. and you should know that we already started increasing our public investment. we have now more than 80 billion together, which is the highest figure we had for decades. we reduced taxes for low and middle income families. we increased the spending we do with the social welfare system in germany. but i do very much agree with all those in germany saying that we should not have debt. it is a very good policy
that we have enough debt in germany and that it should not increase and we will stick to the rule of not further increasing the public debt. in that case, it seems to me there are serious questions about the vulnerability of germany to the current geopolitical climate. you are an economy driven by your prowess at exports, at manufacturing and then exporting, particularly in the engineering field, particularly in the auto manufacturing field. right now, looking at germany and the world, that is the us and china in particular, you've got a big problem. protectionism, trade wars, they are going to harm germany. we are very much working for a multilateral approach in the world economy and we see that there are many other countries supporting this idea. and the biggest stronghold we have is the european union. as i already said, there is something coming out
which is a european economy. it is possibly false today to continue today to speak about a german, a french, or a spanish economy. if you look at the big companies, the big corporates, you see they invest all over the continent. and this is the strength that europe has and we will be effective in the world that is to come and in a world of 10 billion people we will have in the midst of this century if we work together as european union, and this is what we are working on. with respect, it is not the european market that is going to save germany from low growth. your growth may be as low as 0.5%, one reason is because of a slowdown in exports to china. germany is very vulnerable to a china slowdown. jim o'neill, one of the leading economists in the uk, formally with goldman sacks, says germany is in danger of becoming a derivative of china, you are so dependent on china. possibly this was not in a scientific comment, but the hope of the commentator. i don't think so.
i think so. there is not good reason for that. we are still really successful. it would be a really big economic mistake to act as if we would be in a recession when we have the highest number of people employed in our country. but look at the united states. it is notjust the china problem. the united states is now a country considering slapping tariffs on european auto exports. for germany that would be a disaster. i think the german and the european economy are strong enough to be successful in different situations. there is always up and down in the economy. you have to be able to face this. and if you want to be successful in the times we live in, you must be effective in the way that even the medium—sized companies are successful on the world market. this is what happens to germany and this is one of the parts
of our success. and one of the outcomes is that we always have to face the situation that there is — a bigger growth, or a slower growth in the world economy. and this has some effects on europe and on germany, but we will be able to face it. how did you feel when donald trump called europe a foe in terms of economic and trading relationships? he is not right and anyone who knows... he is the president of the united states. saying he is not right isn't going to help you build a relationship with the administration. we have very good talks with the american administration. i had a very good conversation with my colleague in the united states, in washington in the last week, and we will have a debate about trade questions between the european union and the united states. it is very good that president trump and presidentjuncker agreed to have these talks and this shows that this is the real area of trade talks, it is the european union and the united states.
when mr trump says as he said recently, "i see mercedes cars all over fifth avenue in new york, but how many chevrolets do i see in germany?" he has a point, doesn't he? and in that sense you remain deeply vulnerable. it is something you don't appear to be ready... the biggest exporter of cars from the united states are german car manufacturers within the united states and this is what i wanted to view at. if you are one of those who have this national list propaganda, if you are one of those who have this nationalist propaganda, thinking that we are living in times which are 100 years ago, this will not work. if you look at the supply chain of all the different things we have in our countries, we buy the cars, the goods and all the other things, you will find out that they are produced at several places all over the world.
and this is the mistake of all those people doing this propaganda that they believe, that you can just stick to your own country in a world that has already changed. it sounds like, if i may say so, it sounds like you are prepared to play hard ball. you are advising mrjunker and the eu to play hardball in trade negotiations with the united states. we yesterday said that there would be talks between the eu and the united states and that there will be a mandate and i am always supporting the idea of talking and getting agreements. and a final one on the united states relationship before we get to more strategic issues. the united states is adamant that germany must up its game when it comes to military spending. it must commit to reaching the 2% of gdp target for military spending, which is regarded by all nato members as the threshold for military spending. germany of course right now is at roughly 1.25%.
you as finance minister have questioned whether germany can even get to 1.5% by 202a. it is something that the americans regard as unforgivable here in berlin. next year we will have 1.37%, not 1.5%, as you said, and we have the biggest increase in military spending in the three years since i am responsible as finance minister. we are doing from 2017—18, from 18—19 and from 19—20 you will see it is billions more than expected and in the before line of expectations looking at the budget. and to be cautious... your words are not going to please washington, are they? i think so, that they are able to understand what we say. it is a clear decision that we don't want to have extra debt. there is these politicians always drawing lines with their pencil, always saying, yes, we will do
all of the different things and then it is not too much, it is 10 billion, 50 billion, 100 billion too much. if i may say so, minister, your german obsession with no new debt is therefore going to trump your core responsibilities to nato. are you happy with that? we are increasingly spending as i already said and this is a fact. all of the other things are words. all right, let's talk a strategic overview of the strength of germany 30 years after unification. it is striking how reliant your economy is on auto manufacturing. i mean, the numbers are extraordinary. it directly employs 800,000 people in this country. it represents up to 8% of national gdp. and yet the fossil fuel combustion engine based auto industry is in serious trouble. and i wonder whether you believe germany is well placed to transition from the combustion engine to electric vehicles.
it is, and this is relevant not just only for germany, because, as i already said, i think that the german car industry is already a european, with a lot of plants all over europe with poland, slovakia, hungary and spain, many other places, also the uk. and so they invest a lot and their decision is now very clear. after the european union said that there will be very restricted emissions rules in 2030 they decided to take the challenge and that they will be ready to meet this challenge. for instance, all the car manufacturers decided already that they will spend tens of billions to invest into electro mobility and plug—in hybrid cars. look at the facts, minister, the european commission hasjust charged bmw, daemler and volkswagen with colluding to prevent the introduction of this technology.
your auto manufacturers just don't get it even today. i don't know what will be the outcome of this starting procedure, because i am not in the inner decision—making processes of the car manufacturers. but you are not right about the future. i think the german car manufacturers will be the leading car corporate in the world looking at electro mobility. do you really believe that? i really believe that. did you read the national industrial strategy document in february to 2030 here in germany, which says that if the digital platform for autonomous driving with artificial intelligence is to come from the usa and the batteries for the cars of the future come from asia, then germany could lose over 50% of its value added in this sector. so, let me draw you a picture. there will be ten or 12 big factories for batteries in europe, some of them germany.
we are now producing the necessary decisions to that. it will be millions of cars that will be produced in the next years and in germany and other places in europe. and they will be the biggest players in electro mobility in the world, iam sure. really? a lot of people think when it comes to ai, for example, the technology will lead to a push to driverless cars. the united states, india and china are far ahead of germany. if one looks at key indicators for example, germany — 29th out of 3a industrialised economies for fast internet connection. look at the take—up of cloud service computing from big businesses in germany. 16% of businesses use cloud services as a key productivity enhancer. finland — finland — 57%. germany is in danger of being left behind. no. it's fine to say no...
it'sjust a picture which is not speaking about reality. you are a little bit complacent, minister. because germany has been so successful in berlin, as you said, a thriving city and a thriving europe economy. yes. discussing the future with people like you is that they always say there would be a catastrophe and things will go down and things like that. if i would hear two people like this i would have to go to into a cellar let me tell you we're living in a situation where we all understand the necessities of investing into the future. this is why i could tell you — at the start of our debate, that we are increasing public investment. that wwe are increasing the public investment and private investment into artificial intelligence. that we are increasing the investment into it because we want to be part of those countries in the european union that are successful in
the upcoming world. for me, to make one point very clear, if we are not, if we are not people having hybrids... hubris? hubris. we should understand there will be a world of 10 billion people in 2050, we will live in a world where there are big countries like the european union, like russia, like the united states, like india, like indonesia, it could be a very fine world if we accept any of them has a chance for wealth and growth but that we are working very hard to make clear that the european union and that europe will be one of those strongholds of this new world. before we end, then, let's just have a couple of thoughts about the european union.
in the recent past, there has been a preoccupation with trying to make brexit work and in an orderly manner. in your point of view, do you think the eu will offer a further extension until it comes to an agreed brexit position? i was always a fan of this pragmatism and i hope europe has learned its lesson as far as the point comes back at the united kingdom is taking the necessary decisions. you are smiling, but i suppose the question from the british point of view is, there is no indication right now that theresa may can find a pathway toward an orderly, agreed brexit. are you sending a signal that if, by october 31, britain remains in this brexit mess, there will be another extension on offer? i'm sending a signal, please come together and start
with something that might be absolutely new to the british system of parliamentary system. because you have not really the experience of bipartisan cooperation, but this is what is needed in a national question like this. and, uh... let me ask it another way. some presidents like emmanuel macron and former belgian pm guy verhofstadt believe that the continued uncertainty and toxicity of this british argument about how to live the european union is actually deeply damaging to the european union. do you agree? no. i think that the brexit tensions, the trade tensions we see in the world, unilateralism, is something like a catalyst for working very hard on getting a better european union and more integrated european union. so i see it the opposite.
my...i think that it is necessary that the british parliament is taking a decision and i hope it will be very soon and i know that brexit is one of the questions that is a difficulty for the world economy. when i was in washington last week i discussed with the imf and all the other people. and all the other people, everyone agreed that questions of politically made, man—made uncertainties like the trade tensions between the united states and china, like the brexit, are one of the reasons for the slower growth in the world economy because all the entrepreneurs over the world wait for them to cease. and when these uncertainties will be seen, i think it is the reason why
for anyone who forecasts about germany, the european union, the world economy says there will be better growth at the end of this year or the next year because anyone is hoping that the tensions will decrease and that the man—made political uncertainties will vanish. a final thought on politics. it brings us back to where we began, referring to the 30 years anniversary after unification. germany itself, it seems to me, is at a crossroads. your party, the social democrats, and the christian democrats, they are losing popularity. they are losing their grip on politics of this country. and what we see in germany, as in so many other european countries as a rising tide of nationalist and populist sentiment, particularly in the east of your country, which, despite unification, is materially much less well off than the west of your country. to that extent, do you believe that actually, german unification has
in some ways to accept that it hasn't delivered for the people of the east of your country? no. it delivered for the people of the east of my country, most people over there see it like this. but then why are they politically rejecting your party and the christian democrats and many of them are embracing for example the far—right afd? they are not rejecting our parties, but you are right that there is a populist support which we have all over in germany and in the european union and in many other parts of the world. i think that we should understand that something is happening to all of us. we in this rich, democratic countries, the former so—called industrialised countries, are facing a new period in the 21st century which is different to the ones we had before. even those who are employed and have a good income and development understand that possibly this might not be the case
in the next 10, 15 or 20 years. they are afraid that this might not be clear for their children or grandchildren or friends of them and things like that. this is the reason why for instance there was this development in the united states which had the outcome of electing president trump. i think this is the reason for the brexit and this is what we should understand. in the rest of the world, while billions of people are becoming more confident and happy about the future, billions grew up into something like a middle class in asia. in the rich countries, people are less confident than they were 10, 20 years ago. this has a reason. they have good reasons for not being so sure about the future because all of the big developments coming from globalisation and from the technological progress are producing more wealth for the countries, but not
necessarily for all the people. if i may say so, this is the failing of a political class which includes people like you. i think we have to admit it's a problem that could just be solved. if we make it clear that anyone has the right to a good income, a good job and that even if things are changing fast like they will in the future, we will be able to manage it that they have a good job and prosperous life. this is what they ask us for and we have to deliver. so yes, and solidarity is the answer to those questione and social cohesion is the answer to that question. i'm absolutely sure that we can give the idea that anyone can be part of the game. again, back to the people, this will increase the support also for the social democratic parties all around the world. olaf scholz, we have to end there.
but i thank you very much indeed for being on hardtalk. thank you. hello there. for all four nations of the uk, thursday was the warmest day of 2019 — so far, that is. 23.3 was the top temperature, that was recorded in west sussex but over the easter weekend, those temperatures are set to climb a little further. widely into the 20s but towards the south—east corner on saturday, 25, possibly even 26 degrees and with that, high pressure keeping things predominantly dry and holding these weather fronts at bay
in the atlantic for the most part, as i will show you in a moment but for good friday, we don't have to worry about those weather fronts. in fact, after any early fog has cleared, most of us are looking at a blue sky day with lots of sunshine. we may see patches of cloud drifting into northern ireland and western scotland as far as the temperatures go, widely up into the high teens or low 20s celsius, 22 in glasgow, for example. somewhere further south, we could get up to 2a degrees. friday night will be fine for most of us. we may see one or two fog patches developing but they do but if they do form where youar, the fog could be quite dense. also some cloud you will notice, creeping into the far west of northern ireland in north—west scotland associated with one of those weather fronts i showed you, front trying to make inroads on saturday, the odd spot of rain in northern ireland, the far north—west of scotland, certainly more cloud here. come further south and east, predominantly sunny.
we may see fog patches lapping onto north sea coastal areas but in the sunshine on saturday, this is likely to be the warmest day of the week and 20—211 degrees, maybe 25, 26 in the south—east corner contrast that with the so—called holiday hotspots of southern spain. here, a wet weekend to come, persistent heavy rain which could bring flooding and even further east to the mediterranean where it is drier, northerly breeze in cool weather, 17 degrees in athens, much call than for many of us at home and the second half of the weekend, that area of high pressure mostly holds on. these weather fronts will always be there to the north—west, wriggling around and threatening to move in, some uncertainty about the extent to which these fronts will make progress, always the chance of some cloud into northern ireland, north—west scotland, may some rain in the far north—west but away from these areas, again, a lot of sunshine on easter sunday. again, those temperatures well up into the 20s. and for easter monday, it is more of the same. more spells of sunshine, more warmth, but always the chance
i'm rico hizon in singapore. the headlines: robert mueller‘s long—awaited report on russian interference says there was no collusion with russia by the trump campaign in the 2016 us election. the heavily redacted report doesn't exonerate him and it also raises questions of obstruction of justice. but president trump says it's "game over". they are having a good day. i'm having a good day as well. it is called no collusion, no obstruction. i'm lewis vaughanjones in london. also in the programme. the firefighters who battled