Economics Minister Robert Habeck (Greens) and Finance Minister Christian Lindner (FDP) clashed when preparing the 2024 budget. In a letter from Habeck to Lindner it says: "We ask you not to make any further public or internal preliminary decisions that unilaterally prioritize further expenditure." The stock pension, the sales tax reduction for the catering trade and the German Armed Forces are mentioned as examples. The letter was available to the German Press Agency on Thursday, as was Lindner's letter in reply. The news portal “The Pioneer” had previously reported about it.
Habeck writes that the rules for compliance with the debt brake have been agreed and are not being questioned by the Greens. "However, other political projects were also agreed, which are by no means subordinate to compliance with the debt brake. In this respect, we are all called upon to find new and alternative ways of achieving these goals while complying with the stipulation you have specified for a 2024 budget that complies with the debt brake. can be achieved. Since there are no proposals on the table for this, we cannot accept the key figures as they are." Habeck suggests "discussing how we can improve revenue, promote the reduction of environmentally harmful subsidies and identify programs that can be replaced by regulatory law". Habeck writes "on behalf" of the ministries led by the Greens.
Lindner's reply to Habecks said that the news that the green ministries no longer accepted the benchmarks for the 2024 federal budget "surprised" him. These key figures were agreed in March 2022, and negotiations are currently underway on the update and the 2024 budget.
Controversy over compliance with the debt brake
Regarding Habeck's proposal for "income improvements", Lindner writes: "I do not want to take up this suggestion. On behalf of the ministries led by the Free Democrats, I can state that tax increases or other structural additional burdens for the citizens or the economy are excluded from the coalition agreement. "
In the traffic light coalition there has long been a dispute over compliance with the debt brake anchored in the Basic Law, which only allows the federal government to take out new loans to a limited extent. In the case of the share pension, it was agreed in the coalition agreement that, as a first step, the German pension insurance fund would be provided with a capital stock of 10 billion euros from budget funds in 2022. The Greens are skeptical about a permanent growth.
According to media reports, Defense Minister Boris Pistorius (SPD) is calling for an additional ten billion euros for the defense budget for the Bundeswehr in addition to the 100 billion euros special pot set up last year for the 2024 budget and the budgets for the following years.
Lindner had recently shown himself open to a permanent reduction in the reduced VAT rate on food in the catering trade. This was reduced from 19 to 7 percent during the corona pandemic and was extended in October 2022 until the end of 2023. A spokesman for Lindner recently told the "Lebensmittel Zeitung" that the Minister of Finance was open to discussing the unlimited application of the regulation.
There has also been a long-standing dispute in the traffic light on the question of how and whether environmentally harmful subsidies should be abolished. The Greens want a reform of the so-called company car privilege, which the FDP rejects.