It’s about money and priorities: There has been a dispute in the traffic light coalition for weeks. Chancellor Scholz and his cabinet are retiring from Sunday to consultations behind closed doors.
In the two-day cabinet meeting that begins this Sunday, there has been no sign of a breakthrough on the issues raised by the traffic light coalition. Before the consultations at Schloss Meseberg, the federal government’s guest house north of Berlin, the Greens and SPD insisted on the urgency of the child security project. Federal Finance Minister Christian Lindner (FDP) said that introducing them would be expensive, but not as expensive as Family Minister Lisa Paus (Greens) expected.
The background to the disputes in the coalition of SPD, Greens and FDP is the ongoing budget deliberations for the coming year. Lindner wants to comply with the debt brake again despite higher interest rates. He ruled out tax increases. Instead, he wants to set clear priorities for the projects agreed in the coalition. The finance minister wants to present the key points for the 2023 budget on March 15.
Officially, the energy transition and data policy are on the agenda for the exam. On Sunday, the first thing to do is to deal with the turning point proclaimed by Chancellor Olaf Scholz (SPD) after the Russian invasion of Ukraine. A speech by EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen is planned behind closed doors on the subject of “Economic prospects for Germany and Europe at a turning point”.
Behind the scenes in Meseberg, in addition to the argument about basic child security, the public disputes about the future of oil and gas heating, motorway construction and migration policy are likely to play a role.
Basic child security – Greens and SPD versus FDP
Lindner told the newspapers of the Funke media group that in the traffic light coalition it was undisputed that there should be a simple, digital process so that families received what they were entitled to. “I expect that this will require additional funds from the federal budget in the single-digit billions.” With the concept she presented, Paus assumes costs of twelve billion euros.
Green Group Vice President Andreas Audretsch called it a good thing that Lindner is now promising billions to finance basic child security. “In order to get children out of poverty, we have to bring together the subsistence level for children, de-bureaucratization, digitization, work incentives for families and the necessary financing into an overall concept,” said Audretsch in Berlin. It is now central that the Minister of Finance also reflects the necessary funds in the key budget figures.
Greens and SPD insisted on the urgency of basic child security. Family Minister Paus told the “Welt am Sonntag”: “It is the most important socio-political project of this government.” It is laid down in the coalition agreement, “that is what the coalition will have to be measured against”. SPD leader Saskia Esken told the newspaper: “In the budget negotiations, we will ensure that the socio-political projects of the coalition agreement are tackled with the necessary urgency.”
The German Child Protection Association warned before the exam to hurry. “The basic child security is running out of time if it is to come in this legislature,” said the President of the Child Protection Association, Heinz Hilgers, the “Stuttgarter Zeitung” and the “Stuttgarter Nachrichten”. From 2025, basic child security is to bundle various services: from child benefit and child supplement to financial support for school trips and leisure time. Many families have not yet applied for benefits – due to ignorance or bureaucratic hurdles.
Controversy over the end of the internal combustion engine
The dispute between the FDP and the Greens about the planned end for cars with combustion engines in the EU from 2035 could also play a role in von der Leyen’s visit to Meseberg. At Germany’s insistence, a corresponding EU decision was postponed indefinitely on Friday. The FDP wants “climate-neutral” synthetic fuels to be able to be used in combustion engines after 2035.
The Green Youth sharply criticized the coalition partners before the exam. He has no understanding for some of the actions of the FDP and SPD, said the head of the Green youth organization, Timon Dzienus, the German Press Agency in Berlin. “Regardless of whether it’s about the end of combustion engines, climate protection in the transport sector or basic child security, the FDP is currently pursuing a backward-looking blockade policy in every corner.” The SPD refuses to take a position on the subject of climate protection. “Unfortunately, nothing has been seen of the self-proclaimed climate chancellor in the previous reign. Olaf Scholz must finally position himself for climate protection at the traffic lights,” Dzienus demanded.
CDU Vice Andreas Jung appealed to Scholz to make use of his policy competence when it comes to climate protection. While the FDP and the Greens were arguing, “the climate chancellor” was totally absent, he criticized on Deutschlandfunk.
I have been working in the news industry for over 6 years, first as a reporter and now as an editor. I have covered politics extensively, and my work has appeared in major newspapers and online news outlets around the world. In addition to my writing, I also contribute regularly to 24 Hours World.