Today we started out by visiting the Federal Ministry of Finance. This is the financial policy making body for Germany. It is comparable to the United States Treasury. The Minister of Finance is an appointed position who is responsible for all financial aspects. This position is the only minister in the German government with the right to veto. The entire financial ministry is comprised of approximately 2000 staff members who make up 146 divisions. The Federal Ministry of Finance abides by the “Debt-Brake Law, which states that the budget must always balance (never have a deficit). Only in extreme cases such as natural disasters may the expenditures outweigh the revenues. It was very interesting to compare how the German Treasury functions to the United States Treasury.
After this visit we were treated to an authentic German lunch. It was very interesting to see the different foods this culture has. Overall, it was similar to that of the Czech Republic. Also during our lunch break, we got to see Hitler’s bunker that was used during World War II. If it were not for our tour guide showing us, we would have never known that we were standing on top of it. The German Government opted not to make it a memorial given the negative history behind it. It is only recently that a small informational sign was placed near the site.
Once we finished lunch, we moved on to our second visit at the European Commission’s “Experience Europe Exhibition”. The interactive exhibition provided information on the history, politics, and daily life of the European Union. We had the opportunity to experience an educational video about the European Parliament in their new 360 degree cinema.
Our last stop of the day was to the largest printing company in Berlin, Axel Springer. They are one of the largest printing companies in Europe with over 15,000 employees. The company is headquartered in Berlin and is active in more than 40 European companies. We had the opportunity to tour the facility and actually see the process of taking the printer from thought to paper.
It was a great start to our business experiences in Berlin!