The federal government wants to tackle the problem of high gas prices - but the financing remains unclear. The FDP continues to insist on compliance with the debt brake in the federal budget next year.
Finance Minister Christian Lindner (FDP) said on the ARD program "Anne Will" that he had an idea for financing a gas price brake - but he didn't want to spread it to the public, but first discussed it with the coalition partners from the SPD and the Greens. At the same time, it looks as if the controversial gas levy planned for October 1 may not come after all.
The gas surcharge was actually intended to support gas importers who have high costs for replacement purchases due to the lack of Russian deliveries. The surcharge for all gas users is currently set at around 2.4 cents per kilowatt hour of natural gas - making gas more expensive for customers. Economics Minister Robert Habeck (Greens) sees financial constitutional issues to be clarified, and Finance Minister Lindner also casts doubt on the instrument.
Decision later this week
SPD leader Lars Klingbeil expects that the issue will be decided in the new week. "I have no doubt that we will get a final decision on the gas levy next week," he said on the ZDF program "Berlin direct". "It is clear that we must have the strength to discuss this openly and, if necessary, to correct ourselves." In the end, Habeck, as the responsible minister, had to say how the gas levy would continue.
Green leader Ricarda Lang said the gas surcharge could go away as soon as the Ministry of Finance was willing to come up with an alternative. "This alternative means: financing from budget funds," said Lang. The problem: The debt brake anchored in the Basic Law stipulates that the federal and state governments must always balance their budgets without loans. Because of Corona, the debt brake in the federal government was suspended for three years.
Finance Minister Lindner said on "Anne Will": "For me, a gas price brake is no reason to make an exception to the debt rule for the federal budget again." The head of the FDP explained: "One mustn't forget: the debts that we incur today will have to be serviced and repaid at some point. Then, in case of doubt, we are threatened with very high burdens, including tax increases."
FDP parliamentary group leader Christian Dürr explained in the "Rheinische Post": "The debt brake is an inflation brake and therefore the best instrument for mitigating price increases". You have to get to the root of the problem. "The prices are so high because there is not enough energy. A price brake on the electricity and gas markets, combined with an expansion of the energy supply, is the right answer," explained Dürr. "A gas price brake must therefore come in combination with a lifetime extension of the nuclear power plants."
Actually, all German nuclear power plants should go offline by the end of the year. Habeck's plans envisage keeping two power plants operational until mid-April in the event of energy shortages - but that's not enough for the FDP.
Haßelmann speaks of "absurd" tie-in business
Green party leader Britta Haßelmann opposed linking the two issues. It is the task of the coalition to support citizens as well as companies with the increased energy costs, she told the "Süddeutsche Zeitung". The Minister of Finance must take money in hand for this. It is "absurd to want to turn it into a tie-in deal with an extension of terms". Nuclear power is a high-risk energy.
Bundestag President Bärbel Bas (SPD) was skeptical about a renewed suspension of the debt brake in the "Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung": "The suspension of the debt brake would mean that future generations would have to pay for today's expenses. That's not my approach. I personally would like one solution through redistribution." As President of the Bundestag, she does not want to get involved in day-to-day business. "But I can say that people like me and people with even more wealth can be taxed more heavily."