The Greens say like this, the Liberals like that, the Chancellor-SPD says remarkably little - and with that, well, actually everything is said. Once again, the traffic light coalition partners are squabbling, and the list of hot and controversial topics is reliably getting longer. It remains to be seen whether the federal government will be able to defuse this or that conflict at its cabinet meeting next weekend at Schloss Meseberg. In any case, there is certainly enough to talk about. An overview of the current controversies.
One could almost get the impression that Economics Minister Robert Habeck (Bündnis 90/Die Grünen) had made a new move on the matter. In fact, the planned installation ban of completely fossil heating systems has been planned for some time, and the coalition agreement contains a corresponding agreement.
There the SPD, Greens and FDP had agreed that from 2025 every newly installed heating system should be operated with 65 percent renewable energies. In view of the energy crisis, the coalition leaders agreed last year to implement the project "if possible" a year earlier. The green economic and red building ministries are working on a corresponding law.
Now the first details have been leaked. On Tuesday, the "Bild" newspaper reported on a draft law from Habeck's house, which, however, is a joint draft bill from the Ministry of Economics and Building. Either way, the paper causes a stir, especially among the FDP. The reason, to put it simply: According to experts, the 65 percent value cannot be achieved with conventional oil and gas heating systems, which in turn could mean that they are out of the question when installing new ones.
"The FDP parliamentary group has no draft ban on oil and gas heating," said parliamentary group leader Christian Dürr to the "Tagesspiegel". And: It won't come to that either. "I think blanket bans are wrong - instead, we should remain open to technology and ensure that classic heating systems can also be operated in a climate-neutral manner in the future." Group Vice President Lukas Köhler called for a fundamental revision of the draft, since the coalition agreement "deliberately" avoided "political technology decisions". Green co-boss Omid Nouripour criticized, well, the criticism: "Perhaps the FDP should see where they have agreed to everything they suddenly no longer want to know." (which you can read more about here).
The SPD, Greens and FDP have also agreed in principle on advertising bans for unhealthy foods that are advertised for children. "In the future, there will no longer be advertising for foods with a high sugar, fat and salt content aimed at children in programs and formats for under 14-year-olds," the coalition agreement states briefly and succinctly. Federal Food Minister Cem Özdemir (Bündnis 90/Die Grünen) has now submitted points for a draft law, which are to be further coordinated in the federal government.
Whether sweets commercials between cartoons, chips advertising on the Internet and at the TV international match: Marketing for unhealthy things aimed at children should be curbed by law. Özdemir wants advertising bans in "all media relevant to children", not just for children's programs, but generally from 6 a.m. to 11 p.m. The SPD faction welcomes the plans, criticism comes from the FDP faction.
"General bans on advertising, which are supposed to shield children, ignore the real core problems of unhealthy nutrition and are only the second-best solution at most," said FDP vice-chairman Carina Konrad to "Welt". There is no majority for such a policy, she said, and called for more nutrition coaches in schools and seminars on media skills for children and parents, among other things. "In my view, bans are useless here," agrees FDP General Secretary Bijan Djir-Sarai.
After all, the approval of so-called e-fuels is regulated. The governing coalition wants to pave the way for legal changes on the use of synthetic fuels in Germany - for the FDP a breakthrough in terms of climate protection, for the Greens a "technical adjustment" that has been agreed. Well.
This is obviously not enough for the liberals: Transport Minister Volker Wissing shakes the combustion engine off from 2035, which was actually considered agreed in the EU, and threatens a rejection from Germany. He calls for the approval of combustion engines in new cars beyond 2035 if they can be shown to be fueled with e-fuels. If Brussels does not make a corresponding regulation proposal, Germany will not agree.
Although Wissing cannot veto the project on his own, he can oppose it in the coalition. If no common position is reached there, then Germany abstains in accordance with the Federal Government's rules of procedure. This could be relevant for the final EU vote, in which a qualified majority is sufficient, because other countries could follow Germany's example.
In any case, the Greens are visibly upset. Bremen's mobility senator, Maike Schaefer, said the car lobby was driving Wissing and the FDP before it. Stefan Gelbhaar, transport policy spokesman for the Greens in the Bundestag, accused Wissing of slipping "deeper and deeper into illegality" with regard to the climate protection law.
Initially, the dispute over nuclear power plant runtimes was considered a tiresome long-term debate between the Greens and the FDP, but a new long-term issue has recently been the construction and expansion of motorways. Once again, fundamental beliefs clash.
FDP Minister of Transport Wissing considers this to be an economic necessity and is committed to speeding up planning, as is also the case with the expansion of renewable energies. Green Environment Minister Steffi Lemke counters that she sees the climate goals at risk and wants to strengthen rail transport in particular. A stuck situation.
And the SPD? Seems to be looking for the middle ground. "It is counterproductive to play modes of transport off against each other, that delays the acceleration of all projects, and nobody can want that," said SPD parliamentary group deputy Detlef Müller. This is obviously not enough for environmental activists from Greenpeace: They demand more commitment against the expansion of the motorway and literally climbed onto the roof of the Social Democrats in protest.
Who is allowed to dig deep into the till, who has to cut back? All of this is part of the ongoing budget planning for 2024, which already gives reason to expect fierce distribution battles - and Christian Lindner, FDP Federal Minister of Finance and ultimately treasurer of the traffic light coalition, is likely to face tricky budget talks.
After years of crisis budgets and relief packages, the funds are tighter, but the spending requests of the specialist departments are still great: the federal ministries want to spend 70 billion euros more in the coming year, in addition to the previous budget plan of 424 billion euros. In mid-March, the federal cabinet intends to make a decision on the cornerstones of the new federal budget.
A remarkable exchange of letters between Lindner and Economics Minister Habeck, in which the coalition partners clashed over the supposed sense and nonsense of budget planning, already showed that there were differences of opinion at the traffic light in the preparation of the 2024 budget. Most recently, Defense Minister Boris Pistorius and Labor Minister Hubertus Heil, both SPD, announced their respective financial needs in a rhetorical double-whammy - but at the same time affirmed that neither one (higher defense spending) nor the other (higher social spending) should get under the wheels as a result.
As a result, the FDP finance minister, who is opposed to new taxes and debt, is trying to keep spending down and urges prioritization. According to him, basic child security, a prestige project of the Greens, can wait: "Not everything that is desirable is possible immediately," said Lindner. "Specifically, there is still no concept for basic child security," he added. From his point of view, the main thing is digitization and simplification of the support of children, not necessarily more money. "Higher transfers are not always the silver bullet."
The Greens see it, not surprisingly, decidedly differently. The basic child security - in which various services from child benefit to child allowance are to be bundled - is the "most important socio-political project of this federal government", said Federal Minister for Family Affairs Lisa Paus (Bündnis 90/Die Grünen) to the "Spiegel". "Such a priority project must of course also have priority in the budget." If Paus has her way, who presented the key points for the project in January, the basic child security should be paid out in 2025. Minister of Labor Heil also called for the introduction in the "Report from Berlin", although he was still cautious on the question of financing.