In the dispute between Ampel and Union over the reform of basic security, the fronts seem hardened. If the Union countries stop the citizens’ income, there will be a hard struggle to find a compromise.
In the dispute over citizen income, it is now up to the Federal Council: the state chamber is voting this Monday on the central social reform of the traffic light coalition.
After the Bundestag decision last week, the project could now be stopped for the time being, since the consent of the federal states governed by the Union is required. However, the CDU and CSU reject the citizen’s income because, in their view, it reduces the motivation to accept a job. The governing parties SPD, Greens and FDP reject this. If the Bundesrat does not agree, there will be a difficult search for a compromise in the mediation committee of the Bundestag and Bundesrat – and under great time pressure.
Before the meeting, the SPD again campaigned for the federal states to agree to the citizen’s allowance, which is intended to replace the previous basic social security system, Hartz IV. “Many suggestions from the federal states were taken up and clarified in the parliamentary process. A conclusion today in the Bundesrat is possible,” said the first parliamentary director of the SPD parliamentary group, Katja Mast, the German Press Agency. “Hope is always the last thing to die for me. Citizens’ income has been passed in the Bundestag. It can also pass the Bundesrat today.”
Bavaria’s Prime Minister Markus Söder (CSU), on the other hand, reiterated his rejection: “We will definitely not agree,” he said on the ARD program “Report from Berlin”. The direction is “simply wrong”.
The traffic light plans provide for an increase in the current standard rate of 449 euros for single people to 502 euros. That is indisputable and is also supported by the Union. In addition, the unemployed are to be put under less pressure in the future by threatened withdrawal of benefits (sanctions), especially in the first six months of receiving citizen benefits (“trust period”). The traffic light wants to relax the requirements for the permitted amount of assets and the size of the apartment for benefit recipients. On all these points, the Union holds up its stop sign.
Compromise needed by the end of November at the latest
CDU Vice Carsten Linnemann emphasized in the ARD program “Anne Will” that the system “support and challenge” must be retained. “The fact that people are now saying that in the first six months there will be no sanctions for breaches of duty, no yellow card, no red card – that has nothing to do with the welfare state principle. A lot of people say: why should I get up in the morning and go to work ?”
SPD General Secretary Kevin Kühnert countered: “There is no situation in Germany in which people who go to work (…) end up with less than someone in receipt of basic income” – on the condition that low earners raise their entitlements, for example also enforce state housing benefit. Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania’s SPD Prime Minister Manuela Schwesig told the “Rheinische Post” that work would still be worthwhile. “And for those who refuse, there are still sanctions.”
Should the project end up in the mediation committee, experts believe that a compromise should be found by the end of November at the latest so that the citizens’ income can be introduced as planned on January 1st. Federal Council President Peter Tschentscher (SPD) believes this is possible. “If the law does not receive approval at this meeting, a mediation process can be carried out in November and an agreement can be reached,” said the mayor of Hamburg to the “Rheinische Post”. The citizen’s allowance is an “important relief for millions of people who are dependent on support, especially in difficult times”.
Greens: Don’t let the CDU “dance around on your nose”
The Labor and Social Affairs Minister of North Rhine-Westphalia, Karl-Josef Laumann (CDU), told the editorial network Germany (RND): “In the end, a political compromise has to be reached.” The Mediation Committee is there for such cases. The First Parliamentary Secretary of the FDP in the Bundestag, Johannes Vogel, appeared in the “Report from Berlin” to be willing to talk “about anything”. “But what must not happen is that the whole process is blocked.”
The federal spokeswoman for the Green Youth, Sarah-Lee Heinrich, called for a hard line from her party in any negotiations. “I expect all parts of the Green Party to work at federal and state level to ensure that there really is basic security that is humane. Nobody should let the CDU dance around on their noses,” she tells RND. “The traffic light shouldn’t let this employer lobby party dictate its laws.”
Union parliamentary group leader Hermann Gröhe accused the traffic light of “unreasonable attacks” on the Union in the citizens’ money debate. “Feigned indignation makes it more difficult to find a compromise in the foreseeable mediation process. Instead of blustering, the SPD in particular should see that far-reaching changes to the law are essential for an agreement,” demanded the CDU social politician. Traffic light politicians had accused the Union, among other things, of spreading “fake news” about citizen income.