Before the Prime Ministers' Conference (MPK) with the Chancellor on Wednesday, the federal states are increasing the pressure on Olaf Scholz (SPD) and the traffic light government. Among other things, the 16 heads of government expect the federal government to provide financial support for the implementation of the three relief packages, the speedy introduction of a gas price cap for consumers and companies, and further assistance in taking in migrants. The problem: The federal government will not be able to deliver on Wednesday either. And that's not because of the Chancellor's corona disease.
Because of the positive test result, Scholz will not be able to attend the crisis meeting of the heads of government in person. Instead, he will be connected from his office when the prime ministers present their demands. It is not to be expected that he will comply with them or submit concrete proposals for a solution. It cannot be assumed that final regulations will be agreed upon in this round, the Chancellery said, also citing the further need for coordination within Ampel.
It is therefore more likely that there will be an intensified exchange of views – possibly also in the same tone – on how the energy price crisis can be managed to some extent by politicians at the federal and state levels, given the signs of a further deterioration in the situation in Ukraine. Whereby everyone agrees, at least in principle, that firstly there is a need for an energy price cap that also covers the price of gas and secondly that small and medium-sized businesses need to be given subsistence allowances. On the other hand, it is unclear how much money this may cost, who will pay what proportion and whether, in order to be able to pay for all of this at all, the debt brake can or must be suspended in the next two to three years.
At least the SPD-governed federal states are certain that this step will not happen without it. He has "the clear expectation," said pars pro toto Lower Saxony's social democratic Prime Minister Stephan Weil, "that the federal government will also recognize an exceptional emergency situation within the meaning of Article 109 paragraph 3 of the Basic Law". This is the article in the Basic Law that allows borrowing in times of crisis.
Weil expects "no easy talks" for the meeting between the heads of government and the chancellor. There are many indications that the discussion must be continued beyond this prime ministerial conference. “On the one hand, it is questionable whether and when the Union will also face up to its overall responsibility in financial terms. On the other hand, the federal government must accept that important areas that have been affected by the energy crisis have not yet been adequately taken into account in the current relief measures. This applies to the economy, but also to other important areas such as hospitals, public utilities or public transport. The previous support measures are not enough - everyone knows that," said Weil.
In view of the increasing doubts, SPD leader Saskia Esken expects the gas levy to end. Finance Minister Christian Lindner is already promoting a gas price brake. However, it is still unclear how this is to be financed, according to WELT reporter Leonie von Randow.
In Hamburg, Mayor Peter Tschentscher (SPD) considers a renewed suspension of the debt brake at federal level to be “well justified” in view of the crisis support". The prerequisite for this, however, is “an agreement on the distribution of costs”. Many states are "overwhelmed by the effects of the federal government's relief decisions, because there are additional burdens from taking in refugees and a follow-up regulation for the 9-euro ticket". At these points, according to Tschentscher's suggestion, financial compensation measures by the federal government could start.
Schleswig-Holstein's Prime Minister Daniel Günther (CDU) and Schwerin's head of government Manuela Schwesig (SPD) are urging the federal government to introduce a price cap for basic electricity and gas needs for private households and small and medium-sized companies - according to Günther, " without conditions or prerequisites”. Such an energy price cap, says Schwesig, "would significantly relieve the burden on citizens and companies and provide more planning security".
The left-wing Thuringian Prime Minister Bodo Ramelow and Bremen Mayor Andreas Bovenschulte (SPD) formulate more energetically. "The energy price cap must come now," Bovenschulte urged the Chancellor, "we must not lose any more time, because we must not leave anyone behind." can and must adapt. The longer we wait, the more expensive it will be for all of us in the end. Due to the reluctance to buy and invest, there is already a threat of deep cuts in our economy and jobs are at risk," said Bovenschulte.
Ramelow called on the federal government to decide on an energy price cap for Germany. “Electricity prices must drop significantly and be based on production costs. Fuel prices have to be synchronized with crude oil prices again.” In addition, “the federal government must finally suspend the debt brake”.
Appeals, which foreseeably will not be heard this Wednesday. Malu Dreyer, the Prime Minister of Rhineland-Palatinate, has already indicated in a statement that talks about further aid and its financing will continue. “We will discuss the issue of sharing the costs intensively,” said Dreyer, “at the conference of prime ministers on September 28 and, if necessary, at the autumn conference. It is clear that this division must be fair. The goal must be for the federal and state governments to reach an agreement within this time corridor so that concrete help can be delivered quickly and without delay, as planned by the federal government.” Weil also assumes that the discussion will have to continue beyond Wednesday.
Weil's Munich colleague Markus Söder (CSU) does not like to show such patience. On Monday, the Bavarian Prime Minister was enough to take a look at a first draft of the decision by the Federal Chancellery for the meeting of the heads of government to get started.
There is a "great disappointment" with him and also with other prime ministers about the paper sent on Monday. If the text proposed by the Chancellery remains as it is, the decision would have a zero value, said Söder. "We need the maximum approach now and not the slingshot or the tweezers - we have to save our country now."
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