Under high pressure, traffic lights and the Union are struggling to find a compromise on the planned citizens' allowance. Union faction leader Friedrich Merz (CDU) asked the coalition for a fully formulated draft law on Monday. "Political commitments, 'We'll do it this way', are all well and good, but they are not the basis for our approval," said Merz in Berlin.
According to the statements made at the beginning of the week, the unemployed may face more sanctions for breaches of duty than previously planned. In addition, recipients of the follow-up benefit from Hartz IV could be allowed to keep less of their own assets. Both sides have been negotiating at high pressure behind the scenes for days. An agreement is to be sealed in the mediation committee of the Bundestag and Bundesrat on Wednesday. Citizens' income is to replace the Hartz IV system. It failed in the Bundesrat due to resistance from state governments led or involved by the Union.
Traffic light politicians were optimistic about a compromise. SPD General Secretary Kevin Kühnert said: "We believe that this will work this week." SPD faction leader Rolf Mützenich said: "I think we're on the right track." Green parliamentary group leader Britta Haßelmann said: "The citizen money will come, I'm sure of it." But CSU boss Markus Söder also announced in Munich that the negotiations allowed for a “certain basic optimism”.
Söder sets "absolute condition"
However, the "absolute condition" for an agreement is that the so-called protective assets are significantly reduced and there are sufficient sanction options, said Söder. Anyone who can work but doesn't want to, must also be able to be subject to sanctions, he demanded. "We always feel like advocates for the hard-working." The whole thing is under the motto: "Performance must be worthwhile."
FDP presidium member Michael Theurer called on the coalition partners SPD and Greens to move. "The balance between funding and demanding must also be maintained in the future when it comes to citizen income," said Theurer of the German Press Agency in Berlin. "The public impression has arisen that the necessary personal initiative is not given enough attention." It is reasonable for people receiving citizenship benefits to get involved - for example by making efforts themselves to get a job.
"SPD and the Greens must acknowledge that there is no political majority in the Bundesrat for suspending sanctions every six months," said Theurer. FDP General Secretary Bijan Djir-Sarai said: "Not only does the Union have to move, but also when it comes to sanctions, trust time, the SPD and the Greens also have to move here."
Green parliamentary group leader Haßelmann emphasized that the focus of citizen income should in future be on qualification, training and further education. Co-group leader Katharina Dröge rejected the CDU proposal to separate the increase in standard rates from the rest of the reform plans. The citizen money is a total package, said Dröge on Monday in the RTL / ntv program "Frühstart". "From our point of view, splitting up both elements would lead to the Union simply blocking the second part completely." As of January 1st, the income of single people is to increase by more than 50 euros to 502 euros.
According to the draft law by Labor Minister Hubertus Heil (SPD), there should be no reductions in performance in the first six months if someone fails to take part in measures agreed with the job center or fails to apply for placement proposals. On the other hand, sanctions for multiple failures to report to the job center should also be possible during this “time of trust” of up to 10 percent. After six months, the draft provides for 20 percent less performance in the event of a breach of duty, and 30 percent for each subsequent breach. According to a ruling by the Federal Constitutional Court, cuts of more than 30 percent are not permitted.
Heil's draft, which has already been approved with minor changes in the Bundestag, also provides for a two-year "waiting period". Reasonable costs for rent and heating are to be covered for 24 months. Savings should not have to be used up if they are not significant assets. 60,000 euros and 30,000 euros for each additional person in the so-called community of needs are considered significant. Self-used land or condominiums should not be taken into account.
Additional Earning Rules
Theurer said the FDP advises its coalition partners to go into the negotiations in a "solution-oriented" manner. "This goal could, for example, be addressed even more through more attractive rules on additional income, instead of suspending sanctions." According to the previous draft, those who earn between 520 and 1000 euros should be able to keep more of their income in the future. The allowances in this area are to be raised to 30 percent. The allowances for pupils, students and trainees are to be increased to 520 euros.
The mediation body of the Bundestag and Bundesrat is now coming into play because the state chamber, unlike parliament, did not approve the draft. The committee consists of 32 members - 16 each from the Bundestag and Bundesrat. Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania's Prime Minister Manuela Schwesig (SPD) will chair the meeting. Merz, who had rejected the citizens' allowance draft as screwed up, is also on the arbitration board. The consultations are confidential. If there is a compromise, this new version of the draft law must again be approved by the Bundestag and Bundesrat. According to the will of Minister of Labor Heil, the state chamber should give the law the green light this Friday. According to the Federal Employment Agency, the rules must be decided by the end of the month so that the money can flow in good time at the beginning of the year.