Olaf Scholz and the heads of government from Germany’s sixteen federal states were going to discuss the latest relief package on Tuesday. It is supposed to help people and companies get through the energy crisis. There is one open question: Who will cover the rest of the expected expenses?
Berlin, October 4th, 2022 (The Berlin Spectator) — Last week, Olaf scholz was going to gather with thirteen First Ministers, two First Mayors and one Governing Mayor in order to discuss the energy crisis and ways to help people with their extremely high gas and electricity bills. The meeting could not take place because of Scholz’ Coronavirus infection. He was in quarantine until this past weekend.
In a way, this was an advantage because, in the past few days, things changed. A giant relief package with a volume of 200 billion Euro (196.7 billion U.S. Dollars or 173.7 billion Pounds Sterling) was announced by the federal government. Until this happened, the heads of government in the capitals of the federal states, from Kiel and Schwerin in the north to Munich and Stuttgart in the south, including Scholz’ Social-Democratic party colleagues, were not exactly happy.
Some Governors said the federal government’s approach was unacceptable. Berlin did not have the right to announce relief packages without consulting them first, but expect the states to pay the bill. Bavaria’s First Minister Markus Söder stated Berlin had ordered something but did not want to pay for it. His state would not put up with politics of this kind. But now, Söder and his colleagues are less critical, thanks two the huge amount of money Scholz and his coalition partners agreed to pile up.
Last week, the First Ministers and the Mayors of Germany’s three city states had demanded an energy price cap. Shortly after, this was exactly what the federal government announced. Now, Scholz’ colleagues from the states want to know about the details, and they want the energy price cap to be implemented as soon as possible. This has to do with the fact that many Germans just cannot afford the skyrocketing prices. Also, some First Ministers fear social unrest.
In spite of the 200 billion Euro package, there are things to discuss. The states are still supposed to come up with billions, to cover the extended accommodation allowances for people in need as well as the successor of the 9 Euro Ticket which is supposed to be offered next year. One thing is certain: Berlin will not pay for the Ticket alone. The costs for accommodating and supporting hundreds of thousands of Ukrainian war refugees still need to be paid for as well.
The talks have not even begun, but some German-language media already quoted from a draft decision according to which the question where the required additional billions should come from will not be answered today. Instead, decisions of this kind are supposed to be taken soon. Today, Olaf Scholz’ talks with his colleagues from the states are supposed to demonstrate one thing above all: national unity.