"Our country is facing a difficult time"

Chancellor Olaf Scholz (SPD) was already aware that it would not be an easy agreement. “We’re working on the big building, and the architecture of this building depends on all the individual parts,” he said at the cabinet meeting in Meseberg in the middle of the week. Apparently, the Chancellor massively underestimated how tough the struggle for a relief package at the coalition summit this weekend would be. It will be possible without a night meeting, he predicted.

But then the chancellor and the party leaders of the SPD, Greens and FDP only appeared in front of the cameras on Sunday morning after 22 hours of negotiations, quite exhausted, tense and with sorrowful faces. But it wasn’t just the lack of sleep that weighed on the mood. “Our country is facing a difficult time,” Scholz said right at the start of the appearance in the Chancellery. “But we’ll get through this.”

A package intended to relieve all households

Scholz had negotiated a relief package with the leaders of the governing parties. Size XL, that’s how the package was announced, which should give citizens relief in times of inflation and the energy crisis. And the numbers that the traffic light coalition lists are actually quite large. The Germans would be relieved by 65 billion euros, Scholz announced. After all, many no longer know how to pay for the rising energy costs. It should relieve all households.

The coalition intends to intervene above all in the face of rapidly rising energy prices. In order not to put an additional burden on the Germans, the government is postponing the increase in the CO2 price that is due to start in January. She also wants to introduce an “electricity price brake” to prevent excessive profits for the corporations. Private households should therefore get a “certain amount of electricity at a reduced price”. Small companies should also benefit from this. Finance Minister Christian Lindner announced that Germans would be relieved of a two-digit billion amount in energy costs. However, many details are still open here.

On the other hand, it is clear that pensioners will receive a one-off payment at the end of the year. As of December 1, 2022, you will receive a flat-rate energy fee of 300 euros. This corresponds to a gross relief of around six billion euros. The energy price flat rate is paid out once. Students should also receive a one-time payment of 200 euros. The federal government will bear the costs for this. There is no date for this yet. The government announced that the countries were now being consulted on how the payment could be made quickly and unbureaucratically on site.

The coalition has also agreed on a successor solution for the nine-euro ticket – but only roughly. The goal is a price range of between 49 and 69 euros per month, according to the resolution of the coalition committee. The federal government wants to pay 1.5 billion euros for this, but only if the states provide the same amount. However, the introduction is not yet certain. Because the federal and state governments still have to agree on financing with the states, which would have to bear at least part of the costs. However, the federal states are currently arguing with the federal government about a rescue package for the ailing public transport industry, which Federal Transport Minister Volker Wissing (FDP) has so far rejected.

Omid Nouripour: The deliberations were “long and grueling”

More people than before should also receive housing benefit. The circle of beneficiaries will be expanded to two million citizens, so that more people will be eligible in times of sharply rising energy costs. Chancellor Scholz announced the plans as the “biggest housing benefit reform” in a long time. That helps those who have a small income, he said.

Green co-leader Omid Nouripour admitted that the coalition clashed in the negotiations. “The deliberations were long and grueling,” he said. “Everyone had to go a long way for a big leap, but we will not be divided,” said Nouripur. “Not from Russian aggression in Ukraine. And not from rising energy costs.” They talked about serious and existential questions, said SPD leader Saskia Esken.

The first two relief packages from the traffic light coalition had a total volume of around 30 billion euros. A number of measures expired at the end of August, but some financial aid from the packages will only be paid out in September.

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