EThe chancellor had announced a large work piece. His coalition took on a tedious negotiation process on behalf of society as a whole on its way to an economically successful modern age. And delivered “very, very, very good results”.
According to Olaf Scholz (SPD), after three days of negotiations, the traffic light created growth opportunities, advanced digitization and will thus, beware, stop man-made climate change. It’s part of politics to praise your own work. But you should be credible.
Germany, which emits almost two percent of global CO₂ emissions, plays a minor role in global climate. In the case of digitization, fragmented responsibilities continue to advance in triplicate steps. And the big piece of work is actually the lowest common denominator of the three government parties, which have settled some of their numerous points of contention in climate protection and transport policy by means of a compromise – although this is not entirely certain either.
With the new building energy law with the planned ban on gas and oil heating from 2024, for example, it is said that the draft by Economics Minister Robert Habeck (Greens) will be revised. In doing so, care is taken to ensure that a technology-open approach is also used apart from heat pumps is pursued, sufficient transitional periods are available and undue hardship is avoided. What that means in concrete terms will only become clear after the law has been voted on by the departments.
The situation is similar with the planning acceleration. Transport Minister Volker Wissing (FDP) pushed through against the Greens that around 140 motorway construction projects should also benefit from simpler approval procedures – but only “in agreement with the country concerned”. The Greens, who are co-governing in numerous federal states, still have a lever in their hand to block the expansion of highways, which they don’t like, through the back door.
The good news is that the traffic light isn’t launching any more debt programs. However, Finance Minister Christian Lindner (FDP) had to allow the Greens to increase and expand the truck toll for investments in the railways. The project is in the coalition agreement, but inflation was not rampant at the time. Nor is it an increase in taxes and duties, which the liberals always rule out, but an additional burden on citizens: the higher costs for freight forwarders will have an impact on the prices of the goods transported.
The power-political will of the traffic light to continue is there
Above all, however, the dispute over the federal budget for 2024 and the following years remains unresolved. One would have expected from a major success that the agreement on the cornerstones of the federal government’s medium-term financial planning, which had been pending for weeks, would be advanced. Apparently that didn’t work.
This also leaves the financing and design of the agreed basic child security, the future equipment of the Bundeswehr in times of war in Europe or Projects like the share pension open – and the subject of new disputes between the three governing parties. The same applies to migration policy or specialist topics such as data retention
CDU parliamentary group leader Jens Spahn is not entirely wrong when he complains that the results of the coalition committee contain a lot of small diamonds and gibberish. On the one hand, the strengthening of rail freight traffic up to “increasing the relief of single wagon traffic within the framework of system price promotion for the costs for the use of train marshalling yards” is declined, on the other hand, PR terms such as “Deutschlandtempo” and “Freiheitsenergien” are handled. But what is the pace when three governing parties need three days to formulate 16 pages of plenty of banalities? And why isn’t a word said about why the traffic light doesn’t count nuclear power among the energies of freedom?
It is said that renewable energies are not only important for climate protection, but also make Germany less dependent on fossil fuel suppliers and thus ensure greater security. Of course, that would also apply to nuclear power plants. But continued operation of the nuclear reactors beyond April 15 is obviously a taboo subject in the coalition. But those who, like the Chancellor, want to take “the whole of society on their way to an economically successful modern age” should not ignore topics.
Otherwise the sentence with which his finance minister Lindner wanted to outline a supposedly grown cohesion of the coalition will become reality in another respect: “One keeps silent about one another and one discusses one another.” This does not mean that this government will break up prematurely. The power-political will to continue is there, despite the small stock of similarities. Compromises are difficult, but still possible.
However, large workpieces can hardly be expected from the traffic light, the energy of the self-proclaimed “progress coalition” has been sapped by the crises of the first year and a half. The financial possibilities too. And the hopes for a new style of politics have died down. The traffic light’s chances of political growth are limited, and the last few days have impressively demonstrated the coalition’s new motto: You govern together, but everyone fights for themselves.