Tuesday, March 28, 2006

More German News for You!

Three more pieces of evidence that the EU is slowly becoming the type of nation-state-conglomeration that the world hasn't seen since the Romans made togas a fashion statement and forced everyone to speak Latin with an Italian accent.

1. The EU driver's license.

Getting a license in Germany isn't easy. To begin with, you have to be 18, and you have to take a theory test and a driving test, you have to go to driving school and you have to pay about 1000 Euro. After that, you're all ready to cause your first accident on the Autobahn! No wonder so many young Germans prefer to spend some time abroad in a place like the US, where we'll give a driver's license to just about anyone. Soon (2012), however, the EU will be making EU driver's licenses mandatory for all EU citizens. German Fahrschulen [driving schools] are holding their breath about whether this means they can rip off only German citizens or everyone in the whole federation.

2. EU expatriates move because of love more than anything else.

Europeans in general, it turns out, don't move around a whole lot. Only 2 percent of the EU population elects to head out west (north, south, east) and strike a homestead (find a cheap apartment). According to a new study, 24 % of expats want better weather ("better quality of life"), 25% want more money ("a better job"), and 30% are following their spouse/significant other around ("love"). Not surprisingly, Italy and Spain top the list of most popular retiree destinations.

So, if you are a Finnish young man living in Laihia, battling the land-of-no-sun-at-all and frustrated with the overwhelming minginess of your neighbors . . . well, all you need to do is find a willing German lass, grab your newly issued EU license and drive yourself to gorgeous, sunnier Hesse, the state next door to dotde's very own Rheinland-Pfalz. In no time at all (8 years, down from 15) Mr. Finland can become a citizen of Germany.

As long as he passes Hesse's citizenship test.

In days gone by, some citizenship tests in the EU have become fairly controversial. The Netherlands, for example, recently made the news because its citizenship test includes a film with gay couples and topless women. Hesse, however, has taken a slightly different route. Instead of making sure would-be-immigrants are aware of state policies, the Hesse exam, quite simply, is Jeopardy auf Deutsch.

For example:

Which assembly met in 1848 in the Paulskirche in Frankfurt?

The "Grundsatz des freien Mandats" ("principle of the free mandate") applies to members of parliament. What does this mean?

and my personal favorite:

In one of his most famous paintings, the German painter Caspar David Friedrich depicted a landscape on the Baltic Sea island RĂ¼gen. Which motif does the picture show?

The exam has come under fire because critics claim most German citizens couldn't correctly answer many of the questions (except for the Caspar David Friedrich one, of course). Plus, not surprisingly, some of the queries target conservative Muslim populations in particular:

You hear that a woman is not allowed to go out in public or to travel without being accompanied by a close male relative. What is your opinion of this?

All this test is really lacking, in order to make this a truly German cultural experience, is Joerg Pilawa proctoring the exam.

For the original articles on the above topics, please go here, here and here. Translation of questions thanks to expatica.com.

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