Budget debate in the Bundestag
Helping citizens and businesses get through these difficult times – this is the goal of the Federal Government’s extensive relief packages. As Federal Chancellor Scholz stressed in the Bundestag: no one will be left alone to cope with the challenges.
“I’m sure our country will demonstrate its true strengths,” said Federal Chancellor Scholz in his speech during the budget deliberations in the Bundestag. With energy prices and the level of inflation rising, the Federal Government was focused on tackling “the challenges we are now confronted with”, said Scholz. He emphasised: “We will stick together. And we will solve the problems” – adding that the Federal Government would not be leaving anyone to cope with the current situation on their own. This was the purpose of “all the decisions we’ve now taken”, he said.
The Federal Chancellor stressed that the Federal Government had developed solutions very early on to address the difficult situation on the electricity and gas market and to support people in Germany in the face of rising prices. The government was responding to the consequences of the Russian war of aggression against Ukraine by offering comprehensive relief, he said – with the third package taking the total volume to around 95 billion euros – and by ensuring a consistent restructuring of the energy supply.
Together we are strong
“Don’t underestimate our country! Don’t underestimate what people are capable of!”, said the Federal Chancellor. Germany demonstrated its true strengths in difficult times and had a sound tradition of hanging in there when things got tough, said Scholz, adding that solutions and solidarity were what was needed now. One example was the so-called “Concerted Action”, a forum for trade unions and employers to engage in dialogue with policymakers. Providing the collective bargaining partners agreed, the Federal Government had decided to exempt one-off payments of up to 3,000 euros from tax and social security contributions, said Scholz. The Federal Government’s message to the people of the country was “You'll never walk alone”, said the Chancellor.
The Federal Government is relieving the burden on citizens and businesses with packages worth some 95 billion euros in total – 65 billion euros are to be added to the 30 billion euros previously planned for this year and next year. “All together, it’s quite a lot of money,” said Scholz, adding that the measures were designed to ensure that citizens and businesses could make it through these difficult times and that jobs were secured. The measures are mainly aimed at families, students, pensioners, workers and low-income earners in particular.
In order to address the problem of rising energy prices, the Federal Government will be looking to skim off windfall profits on the electricity market while at the same time relieving the burden on citizens by means of an electricity price cap. Talks regarding what exact form this cap will take are currently ongoing at the European level. There is to be a successor to the popular 9-euro ticket: the idea of a nationwide digital ticket was something that had emerged from the crisis, but it made sense to extend it, said Scholz.
Securing the energy supply and making it future-proof
Federal Chancellor Scholz once again emphasised that the country was currently experiencing a major upheaval. The Russian attack on Ukraine was a major threat to peace and security in Europe, he said, which was why Germany continued to support Ukraine – with weapons too, said the Chancellor. All measures would be closely coordinated with the allies, said Scholz: Germany would not be going it alone.
Another consequence of the war was that Germany had to become independent of Russian energy, said Scholz, adding that by taking swift action, the Federal Government had already ensured that gas storage facilities were well filled. Scholz announced that the first liquefied natural gas terminals on the coast of northern Germany would commence operations in January. “This is the result of the collaborative efforts being undertaken in our country,” said the Federal Chancellor, commenting on the rapid implementation of the plans. In addition, he said, pipeline capacity to the north and west would be further expanded, while nuclear power plants in the south of Germany and coal-fired power plants were to help the country get through the winter. At the same time, the Federal Government was working flat out to ensure the expansion of renewable energies – having acted early on, said Scholz, “we’re now in a position to feel resolute and bold as the winter comes upon us, knowing that our country will be able to get through it,” said the Federal Chancellor.