Heiz-Zoff at Anne Will: Habeck: “I’m not satisfied with the federal government”


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Heating Zoff at Anne Will
Habeck: “I’m not satisfied with the federal government”

By David Needy

In a one-on-one interview, Robert Habeck answers Anne Will’s critical questions. The Economics Minister reprimands his own federal government in the dispute over the heating law and gives a “brutal answer” to the question of Germany’s climate goals. There is also a special self-criticism.

She can’t do without Zoff. At the last second, the traffic light coalition solved the heating dispute (for the time being) last week, but once again there are rumblings on all fronts. A picture of inner turmoil: The heat transition is an example of how quarrels undermine the government that once came into office as a “progressive coalition” and hurt the trust of the citizens. This is one of the reasons why the AfD’s poll numbers are rising as steadily as those of the Greens are falling. In a one-on-one interview with Anne Will, Robert Habeck addresses the bickering about the heating law.

Almost a little anxious, the economics minister sits slumped in front of the talk show host. The situation is serious. He’s crouching in the front of his chair, his legs crossed, his face tense. Anne Will fires off volleys of critical questions that reflect the views of many citizens at the moment. Habeck knows, of course, that according to the ARD Germany trend from the beginning of June, only every fifth person approves of the work of the federal government. And that didn’t even include the last few weeks of the heating frustration.

“I’m also not satisfied with the federal government,” admits Habeck. The country was safely guided through the winter, inflation and prices in the supermarkets and for oil and gas would fall again, but: “Of course we didn’t shine in the freestyle, in the government’s image,” said the Vice Chancellor .

Traffic light dug its way out of the hole

His next statements make it clear how badly it must have cracked behind the scenes and how much the minister feared for the coalition’s ability to govern. The agreement on the heating law was the “last exit”. If it had not even been possible to get the law debated in parliament, many other projects “would also have stumbled or been blocked”. Nevertheless, the traffic light is now on the right track and has “digged its way out of the hole over the past three to four weeks”.

Will then wants to know what the most recent traffic light dispute about the heating law has revealed, even caused. “Something happened in Germany,” Habeck admits, “I didn’t realize that in time.” He means the strong resistance to the heating law. “I didn’t take the moment to pause,” he says. From this, further mistakes would have been derived around the law and communication. Habeck then only four weeks ago “found space” to approach the draft law differently and during this time, together with the government, “put it on the right track”. Now he hopes for a happy ending in the Bundestag.

“Heating law was a drop too much in legislation”

Even now, the vice chancellor can barely breathe, because talk show host Will hits him to the core with a question. She wants to know why Habeck has lost his earlier approach of getting people on board and turning those affected into participants. The Green politician feels even more slumped in his chair. “That’s a question that bothers me,” he says thoughtfully. Of course, he was “not satisfied” with how the debate and criticism in the population went. After many changes and bans because of the war in Ukraine, “the heating law was a drop too much legislation”.

However, the economics minister does not find any “technical” errors in the guidelines presented, although the time pressure that politicians have imposed on themselves was “enormous”. Will counters that much of the draft law, which has been in the Bundestag since Thursday and is due to be passed by the summer break on July 1, is imprecise and unclear. “Are you talking about that nicely?” she asks Habeck. A “longer lead time” for the Bundestag would of course have been good, the climate protection minister acknowledges. But even if, for example, exact deadlines for heating are not yet in the law, “the crash barriers answer all questions in outline”.

Modified draft will probably lead to less climate-neutral heating

In response to the criticism that the proposed draft had been softened, Habeck replied that it would actually “probably lead to slightly less climate-neutral heating” than the original plan would have done. It is positive that one is now connecting to the municipal heat planning. In everything he does, he starts from the common sense of the citizens: “Continuing to install gas heating and oil heating is a disadvantage,” says the Economics Minister, “because the prices for oil and gas will continue to rise in the long term.”

Will objects that even party colleague Winfried Kretschmann, Prime Minister of Baden-Württemberg, described Habeck’s approach to prohibitions as “riding on a razor blade”. Did the climate protection minister think too little about the social issue in the draft law? “That’s not what I’m blaming myself for,” Habeck replies. Finally, it is clear that the heating system replacement “will be generously funded”. One thinks in the government “always socially involved” and “the money is ready for it in the fund”. However, he does not say which funds actually end up with whom.

A small round of business experts Veronika Grimm and Wolfgang Merkel will then discuss whether the population’s lost trust in the government has incurably clicked on the traffic light. While Grimm calls for people to be “collected” for many important issues in the future, the political scientist believes it will “take a long time” before trust can be rebuilt. “If we know that climate policy comes with a lot of burdens, then we have to approach the citizens more,” Merkel criticized the traffic light. But he also reminds of the normal process that in the middle of the legislature a government always receives significantly less support. However, the traffic light must definitely be less arguing and polarizing, i.e. looking at the citizens less with a view to the “election arena”. “That harms rational politics,” said Merkel.

Climate goals unachievable? Habeck shoots against Wissing

Finally, Habeck comes to the climate targets. Grimm complains that no tightening of emissions trading has found its way into the heating law and Anne Will shows clips from critics who claim that Germany would miss its climate goals with the guard rails. And suddenly the Vice Chancellor is sitting upright in his chair. “Germany hasn’t achieved its climate goals anyway because the transport sector has left too big a gap,” he replies, noticeably acidified, pointing at FDP Transport Minister Volker Wissing: “That’s the honest, brutal answer.”

The critics were right, admits Robert Habeck, who has now returned to his original seating position. With the new heating law, it will be “less likely that we will achieve the climate targets” than with the original plans. But, he adds just before he is allowed to get up from his chair: “No law would have been even worse.”

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