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Featured Olaf Karriere Christian (FDP) Kiew ChinaWirtschaft

"Then we will have to increase the capacities of the initial admissions throughout Germany"


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"Then we will have to increase the capacities of the initial admissions throughout Germany"

WORLD: Mr. Günther, what do you expect from the recent meeting of the 16 country heads with the Federal Chancellor?

Daniel Günther: This time we have to deliver successes. People finally want to know what relief there will be in the coming winter months. To do this, the federal and state governments must clarify the financing issues among themselves so that we are able to act locally. Any further delay, any further postponing of decisions would be absolutely unacceptable.

WORLD: When it comes to energy prices, the Gas Price Commission’s proposal for relief is now available. But it would only really take hold at the end of winter. How could this be faster?

Günther: There are gas suppliers who dare to implement it more quickly. Others find this difficult, which may be understandable. In any case, the gas price brake should apply from January 1st, even if some suppliers will not be able to implement it until March, but then retrospectively. That would be a huge relief for people.

WORLD: The countries governed by the Union are also pushing to compensate for the higher prices for heating oil and pellets. Does the state really have to, can the state put a big money band-aid on all possible consequences of the Ukraine war?

Günther: We have to take care of the bigger issues – and I count the sharp increase in heating costs among them. In the case of heating oil and pellets, it is not possible to construct a government cost brake due to the large number of suppliers. But I think a reduction in VAT on these fuels is necessary in view of the price trend.

WORLD: Another point of contention is the financing of the significantly expanded housing benefit – from the perspective of the federal states, this should be financed entirely by the federal government in the future. So far, the costs have been divided equally. Do you already have an indication of the chancellor's concessions?

Günther: So far there have been no signals whatsoever. The federal government is undertaking a housing benefit reform that will significantly increase the number of beneficiaries. So I think it's only logical for the federal government to take on the financing.

We are willing to negotiate, but so far there is no sign of the federal government making any concessions. In Schleswig-Holstein, for example, we will have more than three times as many recipients of housing benefit as before. That would be an additional 60 million euros per year for us.

The gas price brake is to come, but the exact form is still unclear. Now the first details of the recommendations of the expert commission have leaked out. There is already criticism from the Union.

Source: WORLD / Isabell Finzel

WORLD: When it comes to local transport, the federal government has pledged at least 1.5 billion euros for the introduction of a nationwide ticket. Why isn't that enough?

Günther: Of course, many people like a local transport ticket for 49 euros a month. However, it mainly benefits the people in the cities. In rural areas, a lower price doesn't help if the supply isn't improved. On the other hand, it would be precisely in these rural regions that we would lack the 1.5 billion euros that we as countries would have to contribute for a discounted ticket.

If in doubt, we would then have to thin out connections there or delete them altogether. That will not do. The federal government is therefore obliged to provide additional so-called regionalization funds so that we can guarantee public transport in rural areas.

WORLD: Should the federal government allow the states to override the debt brake for the state budgets at least for the coming year?

Günther: The debt brake is worded cleverly. In special times, it leaves room to meet the challenges financially. Therefore, we countries have jointly declared that we are currently in an extraordinary emergency. We are finally expecting a clear statement on this from the federal government in the coming conference.

WORLD: Do you share the impression of some Union heads of government that cooperation with the federal government was smoother in Merkel's time? Markus Söder (CSU) from Bavaria recently noted a "roaring speechlessness" between the federal and state governments. Do you share this impression?

Günther: First of all, I don't share the impression that only the prime ministers of the CDU and CSU perceive a change in cooperation. Cooperation with the federal government is currently perceived as difficult by the federal states. We didn't shine consistently with our conferences during the Corona crisis either.

But that we would have put off the problems for so long that no decisions were made at all – that has never happened in the past. There is clearly a lot of room for improvement in the federal government for cooperation with the federal states.

WORLD: And overall? The federal government will soon be in office for a year – has it done a good job overall?

Günther: These are challenging times, no question. But I think the federal government is not doing everything that needs to be done right now. A lot has stayed put for too long. We could have had clarity about the relief measures much earlier.

And it's just not the time for terms like "double boom" and bragging about billions. Concrete help, clear address. These are the needs of the hour - and the federal government does not deliver.

WORLD: While many Union politicians described the partial sale of a terminal in the port of Hamburg to a Chinese shipping company as a serious mistake, you jumped to the side of the Chancellor last week. Why?

Günther: First and foremost, I was at the side of Hamburg Mayor Peter Tschentscher. We've known about the topic here in the north for a while. The Union, including the old federal government, supported the Hamburg plans for a very long time.

Nevertheless, I think it is right that it is now clear that the sale of the shares in the port terminal is not associated with any influence. In this respect, it is good that the level of participation has been lowered again. One thing is clear: the situation in China has changed and we must protect our critical infrastructure. But that must not mean that we withdraw from global trade.

WORLD: A problem that is very pressing for states and municipalities is the accommodation of refugees. In Schleswig-Holstein, too, your social affairs minister, Aminata Touré (Greens), speaks of a “historic exceptional situation”. A correct assessment?

Günther: We are reaching the limits of our resilience in the municipalities, especially when it comes to living space. 47,000 refugees nationwide this year - more than in 2015/2016 - who are to be well accommodated and integrated. It's a challenge we haven't had in decades.

WORLD: Do you understand if the first municipalities nationwide are now saying: It's no longer possible, we can't get more people?

Günther: Yes, I understand that, precisely because the municipalities have the right to provide proper accommodation, daycare and school places. At some point you come to a limit. And rededicating sports halls again is not a good solution for either side.

WORLD: So what conclusions do you draw from such calls for help?

Günther: If the numbers continue to rise, we will have to increase the capacities of the initial receptions across Germany in order to relieve the municipalities. And we have to ensure that we get a better distribution of those seeking help across Germany and Europe.

"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 or directly via RSS feed.

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