Further country demands for relief before the top round

Bavaria's Prime Minister Markus Söder is calling for a rescue package for public utilities, among other things.
Bavaria’s Prime Minister Markus Söder is calling for a rescue package for public utilities, among other things. Photo: Karl-Josef Hildenbrand/dpa

Berlin (dpa) – Before consultations with Chancellor Olaf Scholz (SPD) on further relief due to the high energy prices, the federal states are positioning themselves with demands. Bavaria’s Prime Minister Markus Söder (CSU) said on Sunday in Augsburg that there was no need for small things. He spoke out in favor of a rescue package for public utilities and social institutions.

Lower Saxony’s head of government Stephan Weil (SPD) called for a “bundle of aid programs like Corona” in the “Bild am Sonntag”. The federal government should not “put together hectically new rescue programs every few months”. There were also calls from the federal states for more money from the federal government, for example for local transport.

Scholz will meet with the Prime Ministers this Wednesday to involve the federal states in the implementation of the planned relief. At the beginning of September, the traffic light coalition presented a third package to compensate for rapidly rising prices with an estimated volume of 65 billion euros. These include one-off payments for pensioners and students and a price cap for basic electricity requirements. The federal government is offering money for a follow-up offer of the 9-euro ticket for buses and trains in a price range of 49 to 69 euros per month – if the federal states help finance this.

Back and forth in local transport

Baden-Württemberg’s Prime Minister Winfried Kretschmann (Greens) warned the traffic light coalition on Saturday not to burden the states with a large part of the costs. “It’s just not possible for the federal government to think that it only has to inform the federal states about its decisions and then present them with the bill.” That won’t work.

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The chairman of the Prime Ministers’ Conference, Hendrik Wüst (CDU) from North Rhine-Westphalia, called for a “fair distribution of the burden” in the “Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung”. The federal states should still be able to fulfill their responsibilities and ensure that kindergartens and universities continue to run. In addition to the share in the relief package, there is “a lot of clarification with the federal government”. Wüst mentioned, for example, the further financing of costs for Ukrainian refugees and the clinics. A successor to the 9-euro ticket can only be found if the long-standing question of financing regional transport has been reliably clarified.

Federal Finance Minister Christian Lindner (FDP) emphasized: “The states are responsible for local transport.” The federal government can therefore only make contributions. The background is that the federal states have long been demanding an increase in the regular regionalization funds with which they order services from bus and train operators. Lindner also referred to the currently very different scope. “The federal government’s financial situation is extremely tight. The federal government is deep in the red, »he said on Saturday in Wolfsburg. The federal states, on the other hand, have surpluses in their budgets.

SPD leader Saskia Esken was confident on Sunday evening that the federal states will agree to the planned relief in the Bundesrat. She said on the ARD program “Report from Berlin”: “I don’t think there will be a blockade. It is also part of the game of negotiating compromises in financing between the federal and state governments that you build up a threatening backdrop there. » Individual countries had threatened blockades.

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Scholz assured that the planned relief would be implemented quickly. “The legislative machine has started and will organize the necessary support very, very quickly,” he said in his weekly video message published on Saturday. It is about support for households, families and those who earn little money – but also for companies that have high energy bills and do not know how to keep their business going. With regard to the prices for electricity, heat and gas, the Chancellor reiterated: “They are too high and they have to go down.”

Verdi calls for a price cap

The head of the Verdi union, Frank Werneke, criticized that the previous relief packages were not enough. Now it must be ensured that decisive measures such as an electricity and gas price cap and other direct aid for people with low to middle incomes are implemented immediately. An alliance of Verdi, the environmental association BUND, the joint general association and the organizations Campact, Attac and the citizens’ movement Finanzwende is calling for demonstrations in several cities on October 22, 2022. The motto is “Solidarity through the crisis – create social security and end fossil dependencies”, as it was said on Saturday.

Saxony’s Prime Minister Michael Kretschmer (CDU) criticized in the newspapers of the Funke media group (Saturday) that the federal government has so far limited itself to “short-term symptom control for billions of euros”. It is important to take all measures to get gas prices down again. It’s about gas from Qatar, the development of gas wells in Germany and, in due course, Russian gas again. “It must be our goal to get gas from Russia again after the end of the attack on Ukraine.”

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