What’s new in Germany in 2024. Mobility, energy, ecology, consumption

Last Updated on January 6, 2024

Traditional review “What the coming year has in store for us.” Obviously, nothing good, but maybe a couple of positive moments will sweeten the pill. This part is mainly about energy, ecology and consumer news: railways, cars, shopping.

Germany ticket for regional public transport Deutschland-Ticket
Cycle rules in Germany
Used items in Germany: where to sell or buy, how they cheat
Fishing in Germany
What is Haftpflichtversicherung. Liability insurance in Germany
Who can apply for German citizenship
Benefits for families in Germany
Joint building ventury (Baugemeinschaft)


Non-news of Deutsche Bahn

Another strike is expected in 2024, this time among machinists. So they will replace each other: first Verdi labor union, then the machinists’ union. Always check whether your trip will take place two days in advance.

Deutsche Bahn is also starting a global upgrade of high-speed lines. Since the trains don’t run on time anyway, this won’t make the situation much worse.

How to buy train tickets, how to plan a route when there are delays: Trains in Germany . Part 1

In connection with the football championship, mandatory seat reservations will be introduced on many international routes this summer. This is not new – such restrictions already exist on some lines – but their number will be increased. When transferring to such a train from another German train, you need to leave as much time as possible for the transfer so that even with a standard hour delay you can definitely get on it.

The rules for compensation for damages due delayed trains have recently worsened, but there is a new opportunity for rights organizations to protect the rights of consumers. If there are 50 claimants, these organizations can file class action lawsuits and claimants can be added to the list retroactively. Nowadays class actions are developed in relation to airlines, there are websites where you can submit your complaint.

Train delays and strikes in Germany. What can you do

Electric cars are no longer sponsored

From mid-December 2023, the government will no longer accept applications for the Umweltbonus for the purchase of an electric car.

Renewal of driver’s licenses continues

Drivers born in 1965-1970 who received their license before the beginning of 1999 must change their licenses by January 19, 2024.
In 2024, with a deadline of January 19, 2025, drivers born after 1970 who received their license before the beginning of 1999 must change their license.

From 2026, a gradual replacement of driver’s licenses will begin based on the year they were issued, and not by date of birth.

Winter tire restrictions

All-season tires labeled M+S are no longer suitable for winter weather conditions. In winter, you can only use tires labeled with a snowflake inside a mountain silhouette.

Keep the driver under control

New cars from 2024 should have:
“black box” EDR, which records the speed, condition of the pedals, motor, brakes and belts during an accident,
speed assistant that will beep when you exceed the speed
and other assistants looking after the driver (for example, light during sudden braking)

It is also planned to introduce radars that detect mobile phones in the hands of the driver. A pilot project has already been launched, and in some countries such radars operate on an ongoing basis. Let me remind you that the fine for talking on a mobile phone without a special device in Germany is 100 euros and a point in Flensburg.

New vignettes and fines in Austria

From 2024, Austria will introduce one-day digital vignettes for €8.60. A vignette for 10 days can be purchased for 11.50 euros.

Fans of speeding in Austria should be careful from now on: fines have been doubled, and if you exceed the speed limit by 80 km/h in the city and 90 km/h outside the city, you will have to say goodbye to your car.

The fine will catch up with you

If you have broken the rules in another country, you will not be able to escape the fine by returning to Germany. There has been an agreement with Denmark for a long time, and the driver receives a fine on the house if he does not bother to pay it in Denmark. Now there is such an agreement with Switzerland.

In both cases the fines are enormous. For example, in Denmark you will pay 100 euros for forgetting to put your parking disc in a store parking lot. In Switzerland, just 6 kilometers over the speed limit will cost you between approximately 60 and 125 euros in fines, depending on the location.

What’s new in Germany in 2024 in ecology and energy

Heating law

The new building heating law (Gebäude-Energie-Gesetz (GEG), also known as Heizungsgesetz) comes into force on January 1, 2024. It will apply to most new buildings. Old heating systems have received some respite, but still the issue will gradually have to be resolved one way or another. For now, the state subsidizes the replacement, but then it can unexpectedly take away this subsidy, as it did with electric cars.

More about Heizungsgesetz: New heating law in Germany

Solar panels

The federal states are gradually introducing mandatory solar panels for new buildings. Don’t forget to check the current situation in your federal state.

Up to date:
Baden-Württemberg: new houses and old roofs being renovated must have solar panels
Berlin: new houses and renovated roofs must have solar panels
Hamburg: new houses already, roofs being renovated – from 2025
Lower Saxony: new houses from 2025 must have, new houses now must have intallation possibility
Rhineland-Palatinate: new houses – installation possibility

For those who want to install solar panels on the balcony, the requirements are simplified. The simplifications are being introduced gradually, most likely towards the end of the year. The fact is that some of the changes are introduced by law (no need to ask the supplier, no need to immediately change the meter, the power is up to 800 watts), and technical changes are established by regulations (like which plug is suitable).

Owners and tenants of apartments in an apartment building should take into account that the installation of solar panels there requires the consent of the owners’ meeting. Which significantly increases the installation period (the meeting is held once a year). The owners association does not have the right to unreasonably prevent the installation of solar panels. But it can introduce some rules (only rectangular, only black, only horizontal, etc.). Therefore, without resolving this issue first with the management company, and then, if necessary, with a accotiantion of owners, I do not recommend purchasing anything or pre-ordering anything.

Homeowners association in Germany

Raising the price of CO2 emissions

Prices for CO2 emissions are planned to increase every year to encourage consumers to switch to renewable energy sources.

The increase will mean that you pay:
200-300 euros more for heating with a standard consumption of 20 000 kWh / 2000 liters per year (gas / heating oil,
250-300 euros per year more for petrol or diesel with a consumption of about 40 liters per week

Fuel and electricity prices are set to soar

In 2023, gas and electricity prices were not supposed to exceed a certain limit set by the government. These restrictions were planned to be extended, but an unexpected decision by the Constitutional Court nipped these plans in the bud. Therefore, we should mentally preparing for a further rise in price of everything.

Added to this will be an increase in the gas tax rate to normal levels from March (to 19 percent from 7 percent).

The Constitutional Court decision also blocked amounts paid to stabilize prices for electricity transmission, which will lead to a significant increase in prices.

Owners and tenants of houses and apartments on the ground floors

… should be attentive to local and land rules for caring for the (front) garden and surrounding area.

Lands and cities are banning gravel front gardens (Schottergarten). Those who happily covered their area with stones, not wanting to mow the lawn, will have to return everything to its previous green state.

Many municipalities impose restrictions or prohibitions on sprinkling salt on snow and ice. It harms plants. Don’t forget that it is your responsibility to provide non-slip surfaces for the walkways around your home. Look for a list of permitted means for this on your city’s websites. Sometimes salt is allowed for very steep slopes or stairs.

When building a new house or renovating an old one, you need to not only take into account the requirements for heating, insulation and mandatory solar panels, but also the requirements for planting of greenery. If it is not possible on the surrounding area, then it should be carried out on the building itself (greening of the facade or roof).

Food, drinks, shopping

The restaurant is becoming increasingly inaccessible

The restaurant has long since turned from a monthly attraction into a fests exclusive and disappeared from the vacation program. Now we will be happy if we go there a couple of times a year – the government has returned the 19 percent tax from January 1, 2024. The 7 percent preferential tax was introduced to support the industry during the pandemic.

Expansion of the mandatory Pfand paying

Those who are used to throwing away milk bottles and dairy products bottles will have to change their habits and become more attentive. Pfand 25 cents is introduced for milk, dairy products and partially energy drinks in disposable containers.

Give us a replacement battery!

This rule can only be welcomed, but it is being introduced too slowly. According to European regulations, electrical appliances must be able to replace batteries and accumulators. The full rule will come into force by 2027.

Raising pigs is being forced into a frame

When buying eggs, the inscriptions Bodenhaltung, Freihaltung or Bio are familiar to us. The government decided to do the same with pork. The norm is being introduced gradually, and you will most likely see the inscriptions no earlier than the second half of 2024 – early 2025.

The pig can be raised in:
Stall: hostel – in a pen with minimal legally required conditions
Stall + Platz: standard room with breakfast – paddock with additional amenities and improved meals
Frischluftstall: room with air conditioning and windows to the garden – paddock with ventilation and contact with the environment (the wall will be opened)
Auslauf/Weide: spacious suite with permanent walking area available
Bio: spacious suite with walking and eco-food

What will happen next? Just like with eggs, first classify, then ban. I’m sure they will ban at least the first level.

Bottle cap on a string

From July 2024, inconvenient (in most cases) caps on a string will become a permanent companion to bottles. Last year Coca-Cola was having fun with this, it has more money to test the technology in the field on users. The rest, apparently, were studying the question of how to better connect one to the other, so that later they would not have to replace the technology.

Increasing competition on large Internet platforms

From March 2024, major Internet players, listed by the European Commission, must improve the competitive environment among themselves. What this means for the consumer is not yet very clear. An example is the ability to remove pre-installed programs, which, of course, would be very nice. So far, Google, Meta, Microsoft, Amazon, Apple and TikTok are on the list of responsibilities.

USB-C forever

When you buy a new laptop and you no longer see laptops with a normal charging cable, but only USB-C, you think that manufacturers have gone crazy en masse. Because anyone knows how quickly these ports become loose and how often the wires for them need to be changed.

As I found out while compiling this review, these strange people are not the manufacturers at all, but (expectedly) European officials who introduced this mandatory requirement for charging all small and medium-sized devices suitable for carrying. Just like when they introduced all the endless rules on “data protection”, when they did not listen to a single expert, but simply introduced what they wanted, punishing millions of small bloggers, many of whom stopped working, but not Google.

This is explained by the fact that a single charge will protect us from a huge amount of electrical waste. Meanwhile, I already have two devices that I can barely charge with a loose USB-С posts. Should I throw them away even though they actually still work? And these are small devices. Laptops have completely different, much more serious requirements for the charging part.

To be continued – financial issues, insurance, medicine, benefits in 2024.

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