Rapid relief package sought

Berlin (dpa) – The traffic light coalition wants to make a decision on new relief for citizens affected by high energy prices in the next few days. On Monday, however, the Ministry of Economic Affairs did not give a timetable for the reform of the gas levy, which private individuals and companies are supposed to pay to support ailing gas importers. In view of the two challenges, the mood in the coalition of SPD , Greens and FDP seems increasingly irritated.

According to Greens leader Ricarda Lang, the coalition should launch the planned third relief package this week. Lang said that on the sidelines of a meeting of the Greens federal executive board near Hanover. SPD General Secretary Kevin Kühnert had also announced a speedy decision “in a few days”.

There is a great fear that if there is no energy shortage in winter, there could be social upheaval if there is no relief. Due to high inflation, Germany’s employees currently have less money in their pockets despite wage increases. According to calculations by the Federal Statistical Office, real wages fell by 4.4 percent in the second quarter.

Numerous suggestions

Suggestions as to what the aid package should contain came from social democrats such as the Greens: A draft resolution by the SPD parliamentary group before a parliamentary group meeting provides for direct payments for people with low or middle incomes, families, pensioners, students and trainees. There should also be a price brake for basic energy needs and a nationwide 49-euro ticket. Tenants should be protected from termination, power and gas cuts if they cannot pay the additional costs.

The Greens had previously also proposed a nationwide 49-euro ticket. Lang also campaigned for direct payments for families, pensioners and students. For financing, both coalition partners propose a special tax on high profits from energy companies. “And with this money we can specifically relieve the people who need it,” said Lang. “That’s the lived winter of solidarity.” Green leader Omid Nouripour emphasized that the debt brake, which sets strict limits on new federal borrowing, must remain suspended.

Different associations also formulated demands: The German Tenants’ Association supports the idea of a moratorium on terminations. The social association VdK demanded help for pensioners with little money, the German electrical industry tax cuts on the electricity market. Among other things, the VAT on electricity must be reduced to seven percent – similar to how it should apply to gas. It is also important to decouple the electricity price from the gas price. Most recently, the price of electricity had automatically risen sharply due to the high gas prices. Economics Minister Robert Habeck (Greens) is already planning a reform.

Change in gas levy

Also in his hands is the announced change in the gas levy – where it does not seem to be making any significant progress. “We are working flat out on a solution,” said a spokeswoman for the Ministry of Economic Affairs. However, there are no details about the schedule. After severe criticism, Habeck had promised to correct the planned allocation. This is intended to prevent companies that do not need it economically from benefiting from the levy on private households and industry.

“That’s why you have to work hard on the problem now, and we do that too,” said the Green politician on Sunday evening on ZDF’s “heute journal”. “We will solve this problem.” The FDP demanded a result by the government meeting this Tuesday. SPD party leader Lars Klingbeil is also pushing for corrections.

The tone in the coalition is becoming increasingly sharp. After Klingbeil and FDP General Secretary Bijan Djir-Sarai Habeck made technical mistakes, Greens parliamentary group leader Konstantin von Notz openly criticized Chancellor Olaf Scholz’s (SPD) style of government on Twitter. “The Chancellor’s poor performance, his lousy poll numbers, memory gaps at #Warburg and his responsibility at #Northstream2 will not be healed by disloyal behavior and resentment in the koa,” wrote von Notz.

Nouripour attributed responsibility for his party friend’s irritated statements to the SPD. “We all know that bad habits stick. The SPD had Groko for twelve years and maintained a different tone within the coalition,” he said, referring to the long-standing coalition between the SPD and the Union. This is now taking revenge. On Monday morning, Klingbeil struck “completely different tones”, which is why one is very relaxed.

Will gas prices fall again soon?

Habeck also assumes that gas prices will soon fall again. The gas storage facilities are quite well filled, and better progress has been made than the law stipulates, he said in Hamburg. The value of 85 percent, which is actually only prescribed for the beginning of October, will already be reached at the beginning of September. As a result, “we will no longer buy at any price. This will calm down the markets and go down,” said Habeck.

He still wants to stick to the controversial gas levy, “because we as a society have to bear the price of having been dependent on Russia for cheap gas for too long.”

© dpa-infocom, dpa:220829-99-548354/5

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