Reactions to the relief package: The traffic light delivers - but at the expense of climate protection

"The traffic light delivers.

Reactions to the relief package: The traffic light delivers - but at the expense of climate protection

"The traffic light delivers." This is a much-used sentence in response to the 65 billion euro relief package presented by Chancellor Olaf Scholz (SPD) and the leaders of the three coalition parties on Sunday morning in Berlin. Above all, the energy price brakes and grants, the one-off payments to pensioners and students that have been missed so far, the adjustment of the cold progression in tax law and the nationwide successor to the 9-euro Ticket.

Nevertheless, there is also criticism. This comes mainly from climate protectors - although Greens co-boss Omnid Nouripour saw during the press conference that the measures against the climate crisis that had already been launched were not affected. Viviane Raddatz from the environmental protection organization WWF spoke of a fatal signal. "The relief package takes fossil steps backwards and does not provide sufficiently fair answers," tweeted Fridays for Future Germany. The climate activists also criticize the increase in the price of the 9-euro ticket as "unambitious".

The deputy head of the Expert Council for Climate Issues, Brigitte Knopf, also sees "bad signs for climate protection" in addition to positive decisions. Above all, the fact that the increase in the CO2 price will be postponed by a year undermines the credibility of the traffic light in climate protection. The reduction in VAT on gas and the increase in the long-distance commuter allowance also counteract climate protection measures. The energy economist Claudia Kemfert sees it similarly and added critically: "Note: 'accidental profit tax' in the traffic light is only feasible if renewable energy companies are affected ('negative EEG surcharge')"

Economics and Climate Minister Robert Habeck (Greens) said nothing about the impact of the package on climate protection in a statement distributed by his ministry. He emphasized social aspects. The relief package follows a "decisive principle": "Those who earn less will be relieved absolutely more. This means that the package has a targeted effect." By skimming off random profits, "we can then introduce an electricity price brake for households". In the report, Habeck also counts the producers of renewable energy among the beneficiaries of the current situation.

Economics Minister and FDP leader Christian Lindner sees it very similarly. "We empower the people who need our solidarity. And we don't forget those on whose shoulders this country stands - namely the hard working middle of society," posted on Twitter.

The opposition is much more critical of the 65 billion package. "This is more of a work program for the government than an immediate relief package for the citizens," said Jens Spahn (CDU), the deputy leader of the Union parliamentary group, to the news portal T-Online. For many important points, there is nothing concrete apart from headings - and according to Spahn, the biggest problem, the gas price, there is a gap, says Spahn. "Here, people are put off with a commission."

Left parliamentary group leader Amira Mohammed Ali criticized: "300 euros for pensioners and 200 euros for students are a joke." First these groups got nothing, now they should be satisfied with "crumbs", she tweeted. Her party colleague Bernd Riexinger described the package as a "disappointment". Left co-group leader Dietmar Bartsch added to the news portal T-Online: "The plans will not prevent the impoverishment avalanche that could roll over Germany in winter."

According to a statement, AfD party leader Tino Chrupalla criticized the planned measures as "expensive symptom control". All relief measures are only short-term solutions as long as the causes of the price explosion are not addressed. "Instead of state redistribution and planned economic interventions, what is needed is targeted relief from consumption taxes on food and energy and the abolition of the CO2 tax." Together with his co-chairman Weidel, Chrupalla demands: "We must end the unspeakable economic war with Russia, put Nord Stream 2 into operation, finally ensure the continued operation of the nuclear power plants and force the European Central Bank to end its irresponsible monetary policy."

In addition to praise, economists also criticize individual decisions in the package. In the "Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung" the economist Veronika Grimm from the German government's council of experts emphasized the targeted support of particularly burdened groups such as pensioners and students. Grants would be given primarily to people who cannot cushion the hardship themselves.

According to Grimm, the planned measures on the electricity market and to protect particularly burdened gas customers are not yet specific enough. When skimming off "accidental profits" one should not overshoot the target in order not to make investments unattractive. "We urgently need these investments in order to overcome the energy crisis in the medium term."

Ifo President Clemens Fuest told the "Bild" newspaper that the package had light and shadow. The government is clearly trying to let prices and thus incentives to save energy work. However, the support is not targeted enough. "Here you are partly on the road with the watering can." The relief in electricity prices would also benefit households with higher incomes. He described a tax and duty exemption for additional payments to employees as "not sensible". "The state should leave wage setting to the collective bargaining partners."

The President of the German Institute for Economic Research (DIW), Marcel Fratzscher, praised individual elements in the "Augsburger Allgemeine", but mainly criticized them. "The federal government has not found a solution to the most important challenge, the limitation of electricity and gas prices," said the DIW boss. The planned electricity price brake is "completely half-baked", will only be implemented in months and follows the principle of hope.

Clear criticism came from employers' associations: The package was "disappointing," said employers' president Rainer Dulger. It is true that the federal government absorbs social hardship. However, the government obviously lacks the courage for a new energy policy. "The expansion of the welfare state cannot be an answer to rising energy prices on the world market."

Meanwhile, industry and trade criticized the fact that there was little help for companies in the package. Peter Adrian, President of the Association of German Chambers of Industry and Commerce (DIHK), told the Rheinische Post that the support for private households was certainly the right thing to do from a macroeconomic point of view. "The statements on the company-related measures, on the other hand, remain largely vague - and are therefore not the announced "massive" throw." It is incomprehensible that possible relief for craft businesses is only addressed with a time delay, said craft president Hans Peter Wollseifer.

The response from the big trade unions is more positive. DGB Chair Yasmin Fahimi described the package as "impressive overall". "The main task now remains to quickly convert the good intentions into concrete and convincing legislation." Verdi boss Frank Werneke criticized the lack of further direct payments for people with low and middle incomes. "Instead, high earners will be relieved by the tax plans with up to 1,000 euros."

The scientific director of the Institute for Macroeconomics and Business Cycle Research (IMK) of the trade union-affiliated Hans Böckler Foundation, Sebastian Dullien, praised many "important and sensible" individual measures in the package - such as targeted support for pensioners and students, increasing child and the adjustment of the citizen benefit. This would close some gaps in justice.

Star pianist Igor Levit summarized himself very briefly: "You did well".

Note: This article has been updated several times.

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