A nationwide census will be conducted in Germany on 15 May/Photo: AfricanCourierMedia

Germany: New Laws and Regulations in May 2022

A number of new laws, amendments to laws and edicts affecting everyday life enter into effect in May and some will affect you too. Beer is to become more expensive and offers on online platforms such as Amazon and eBay to become more transparent for consumers. More on these and other important changes taking effect from May here:

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Submission of the tax return for 2020
Those who have their tax return for 2020 prepared by a tax advisor or an income tax assistance association (Lohnsteuerhilfe-Verein) did not have to have submitted it already on 28 February but still have until 31 May. The deadline had been extended again this year to relieve tax advisors who have to do extra work by auditing corona aid given to businesses and self-employed persons during the pandemic period. Anyone who misses the submission deadline must reckon with a late payment surcharge. This is usually 0.25 per cent of the assessed tax, but at least 25 euros.

Amazon, ebay and Co.: Offers and ratings to be more transparent
In order to make online shopping experience more transparent, providers must in future show more clearly how the sorting criteria offered have come about. This includes, for example, the number of views and the date the offer was posted, its rating or that of the seller, the number of sales of the product or the “popularity”, commissions or fees. According to the new amendment, there is also a clear labelling obligation for sellers to indicate whether they are selling privately, reselling or direct sellers.

Operators of digital marketplaces such as ebay and Amazon are therefore to become more transparent for consumers. A new legislation, “Act to Strengthen Consumer Protection in Competition and Trade Law”, which will enter into force on 28 May 2022, obliges the platforms to make it clear when the offers were placed and how often they were accessed. Finally, online shopping platforms will also be obliged by the amendment to ensure the authenticity of product reviews and to monitor the prohibition of fake reviews more closely.

Uniform indication of quantities on packaging
Basic prices on packaging of goods are to be indicated uniformly from 28 May 2022, with the reference sizes of one kilogram and one litre as the unit of quantity, which means that all prices must be in kilos or litres. For other products, the price must be stated in metres, square metres or cubic metres. The pricing is thus standardised.

Until now, it was possible to deviate from this for products containing less than 250 grams or 250 millilitres. The uniform quantity indications are intended to make it easier for consumers to compare prices, even if the packaging is of different sizes.

In the case of discount promotions, the lowest price of the product that was valid within the last 30 days before the discount must also be indicated. This is to prevent prices from being artificially increased beforehand in order to then advertise large discounts.

Doorstep selling: No more instant cash
Citizens are to be better protected against dubious doorstep selling. In the case of contracts concluded during uninvited house calls by sales persons, payment may no longer be demanded on the day the contract is concluded. Purchases over 50 euros that were made during such visits should thus be easier to revoke.

Protection against unsolicited telephone marketing
Beware of doorstep selling and unexpected visitors! From 28 May, companies must be able to prove that they only call consumers for the purpose of telephone marketing if the consumers have expressly consented to this. This must be documented in writing and kept for five years. Otherwise, fines may be imposed. This is another component of the “Fair Consumer Contracts Act”. It is intended to make it easier for the Federal Network Agency to prosecute unauthorised telephone marketing.

Beer prices to rise
Beer will become more expensive. This will primarily affect the brands of the Radeberger Group and the Bitburger Brewery Group. According to the Lebensmittel-Zeitung, the price of beer is expected to rise by six to seven euros per hectolitre (= 100 litres).

This price change will first affect the wholesalers, but it is assumed that the prices will simply be passed on to the consumers. Beer brands belonging to the Radeberger Group likely to be affected by the price increase in May include Berliner Bürgerbräu, Berliner Kindl, Berliner Pilsner, Binding Braufactum Brinkhoff’s No. 1, Clausthaler, Peters Kölsch, Potsdamer Rex Pils, Radeberger Pilsner, etc). Beer brands belonging to the Bitburger Brewery Group that are also likely to become more expensive in May include Benediktiner, Bitburger, Hessenquell Landbier, Königs Pilsener Köstritzer and Licher.

Postbank: chipTAN procedure to be switched off
Postbank customers have to prepare themselves for a major change, because the so-called chipTAN procedure will be discontinued in May 2022. This change affects everyone who receives their TAN with a reader into which the debit card is inserted.

Instead, the so-called BestSign procedure will now be used. This can be used as an app via fingerprint, facial recognition or password. For people who do not have a smartphone, there are also technical devices – but these cost a lot of money. They start at around 30 euros.

Google raises security standards for user accounts
Apps where it was previously sufficient to enter a username and password to log in to the Google account will no longer be supported from 31 May, the company explains on its support page. From the end of May, users will have to log in via third-party apps using two-factor authentication.

Two-factor authentication makes accounts with online services more secure, as data thieves would need a second factor in addition to a password (such as a TAN sent to the mobile phone) to be able to tap into data. Google had already automatically activated two-factor authentication for 150 million Google and two million YouTube creator accounts at the end of last year.

Corona regulations at the workplace expire
The current Corona occupational health and safety regulation, according to which companies have been able to determine for themselves since March which basic protective measures they should take to protect their employees from infection with the corona virus at work, will expire on 25 May. An extension of certain measures is still possibile after the expiration. Decisions, such as wearing a mask or providing tests, could be made and should be based on the prevailing regional infection situation in the region, according to the authorities.

Census 2022: Those who receive mail must answer!
Census 2022 will be conducted on 15 May. The nationwide census will determine how many people live and work in Germany. The data is collected by the statistical offices of the Federation and the Laender. Many decisions at federal, state and municipal levels are based on population and housing figures. In order to have reliable basic figures for planning, a regular stocktaking of the population is necessary.

The EU obliges member states to record official population figures as well as other census characteristics every ten years beginning in 2011. Due to the coronavirus pandemic, the census planned for 2021 was postponed by one year. In order to meet the obligations for the year 2021 required by the EU, the results of the census will be backdated to 31 December 2021.

Data on the housing situation is collected on a random basis and evaluated anonymously. The respective State Statistical Office informs you by post if you have to take part in the survey. And you are then obliged to do so under Germany’s Census Act.

Femi Awoniyi

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