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The traffic light relief plans do not trigger any storms of enthusiasm

This point is one of the most important in the relief package.

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The traffic light relief plans do not trigger any storms of enthusiasm

This point is one of the most important in the relief package. Its volume is one of the largest: Federal Minister of Finance Christian Lindner (FDP) expects the project, which bears the most complicated name of all: “skimming off chance profits”, to be in the double-digit billions. But one more superlative is possible: It is the vaguest point, and that causes criticism from the opposition: "Neither the exact amount nor the time is clear," said Union parliamentary group Vice Jens Spahn (CDU).

It's about how the traffic light wants to finance an electricity price brake for consumers. Namely like this: Many electricity producers do not use gas at all, but achieve large profits for their electricity generated from other sources because of the current market design with its orientation to the currently very high gas price. The coalition wants to skim off this from an upper limit that has yet to be defined. And the state should then use this money to subsidize electricity prices for consumers.

In an overnight session, the traffic light government agreed on a new package to support people in the face of rising prices. The Chancellor emphasized: "Germany stands together."

Source: WORLD / Perdita Heise

But there are several snags: First, the siphoning off of the additional profits would have to be regulated at EU level. The traffic light wants to campaign for this, but success is uncertain. Second, the legal feasibility is unclear. Thirdly, it remains to be seen whether Germany could do this without the EU, as the federal government wants. Fourth, no one knows how much money is being made. And fifth, the package did not specify the extent of the electricity price brake.

These imponderables at a central point of the package presented on Sunday make Spahn doubt the relief effect. It is "right to resolve the current distortions caused by the high gas price caused by the war," said Spahn WELT. But that must be “solved at European level”. But if the federal government now makes one of its most important promises of help to the citizens, "the traffic light makes the relief in electricity prices dependent on the decisions of the EU". And the fact that the volume and timing are open is "fatal for the citizens and the companies who are groaning under the high electricity prices".

In fact, this electricity price calculation is one of the most sensitive points of a package with which the traffic light has otherwise primarily managed to express its willingness to expand a subsidy policy. In any case, the reactions of social organizations were largely positive. The president of the social association VdK, Verena Bentele, described the results of the coalition round as "impressive" and was even "enthusiastic" that many of her association's demands had been met. Among other things, Bentele mentioned the energy price flat rate for pensioners, the recent heating subsidy for housing benefit recipients and the increased child allowance. Diakonie President Ulrich Lilie also praised the one-time payment for students and the adjustment of basic security to expected price increases. Lilie, like Eva Maria Welskop-Deffaa from the German Caritas Association, demanded a quick and unbureaucratic implementation of the measures on Sunday.

Business associations stated that the package was aligned with traditional ideas of social policy and pointed out that the package "is primarily aimed at private households", as BDI President Siegfried Russwurm said as President of the Federation of German Industries (BDI). One recognizes that the federal government wants to help the citizens “quickly and in a targeted manner”, said Russwurm, but called the package “disappointing and inconcrete from the point of view of the economy”. Many energy-intensive companies are "threatening their existence", but would hardly be relieved.

From the point of view of the BDI, those companies would be helped above all by measures to end the energy shortage: "Immediate decisions and practical steps are essential for the greatest possible expansion of the electricity supply through the rapid ramp-up of hard coal and lignite-fired power plants, the extension of the operating times of nuclear power plants and the maximum use of the available energy Potential of renewable energies," said Russwurm, and called on the federal government to "include the concerns and practical requirements of companies more closely in their ongoing crisis management."

Employer President Rainer Dulger also linked the statement "that the federal government absorbs social hardship" with the criticism that the government "is not consistently tackling one of the main causes of inflation, energy policy". A "widespreading of the supply of electricity as comprehensive as possible" is required, which includes longer running times for nuclear power plants. Dulger: "A policy that just has the courage to turn off pool heating but lets thousands of gigawatts go by with nuclear energy is not convincing." Hans Peter Wollseifer, Secretary General of the Central Association of German Crafts (ZDH) was also disappointed: " There is a risk that many companies will long have run out of breath before the relief promised in the package takes effect," said Wollseifer on Sunday.

However, criticism also came from the environmental association WWF. Its department head for climate and energy policy, Viviane Raddatz, missed incentives to save energy and criticized the fact that the traffic light wants to postpone the previously planned price increase to CO₂ emissions. Marcel Fratzscher, President of the German Institute for Economic Research (DIW), described this as "a catastrophic signal for climate protection".

In a first reaction from Tino Chrupalla and Alice Weidel, the AfD avoided a concrete discussion of the contents of the package. The two party and parliamentary group leaders only criticized a “costly fight against symptoms” in which “excessive increases in state spending”, “state redistribution” and “planned economic interventions” were used. Instead, "the causes of the price explosion" must be addressed, explained Chrupalla and Weidel. To do this, one must, among other things, “end the unspeakable economic war with Russia, put Nord Stream 2 into operation and force the European Central Bank to end its irresponsible monetary policy”.

Left parliamentary group leader Dietmar Bartsch described the package as "in many ways disappointing". Germany is not well prepared for the winter, Bartsch told the “t-online” portal. "The plans will not prevent the impoverishment avalanche that could roll over Germany in winter."

"Kick-off Politics" is WELT's daily news podcast. The most important topic analyzed by WELT editors and the dates of the day. Subscribe to the podcast on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, Amazon Music, among others, or directly via RSS feed.

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