Habeck and Lindner wanted to demonstrate harmony with a selfie. But they can’t smile away the arguments at traffic lights.
The traffic light started as a “progress coalition”, but after more than two years in office, many conflicts are once again overshadowing its work. The FDP is blocking projects at the EU level, and there is a fundamental dispute over important issues in economic and financial policy. The coalition of SPD, Greens and FDP actually intended to work more harmoniously.
FDP opposes EU projects
The Liberals are currently blocking two projects in particular. This involves new and stricter requirements for CO2 emissions from trucks and buses in the EU. The FDP wants to veto a regulation that has actually already been negotiated. It calls for greater use of climate-neutral fuels and insists on “technological openness”. In other ministries, however, people are puzzled about the true motives. The planned regulation is already open to technology. Is the FDP interested in positioning itself as the party of the combustion engine and thus sharpening its profile in the face of poor poll numbers?
On Thursday, at the instigation of the Chancellery, there was a digital conversation between representatives of several ministries and company representatives. It was reported from participants that the majority of manufacturer and supplier representatives present had called on the federal government to agree to the new fleet limits. Truck buyers needed planning security, otherwise they would hesitate to buy electric trucks.
A vote at EU level is planned for Friday – it remains to be seen whether a way out can be found and whether the plan will even pass if Germany abstains.
It already seems clear that Germany is abstaining from the vote on a planned EU supply chain law – due to pressure from the FDP, which fears disadvantages for the German economy. Here too, a German abstention could cause the entire set of regulations to fail because the necessary majority in Brussels is in jeopardy.
Baerbock’s collar is bursting
On Wednesday, Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock (Greens) burst her collar. She made it clear that Germany’s reliability in the EU was at stake and said: “If we break our word once given in Brussels, we will lose trust.” The European Parliament’s chief negotiator for the EU supply chain law, Dutch MP Lara Wolters, said that the EU would try to build majorities around Germany and no longer take Germany at its word because of the FDP’s behavior.
Chancellor Olaf Scholz (SPD) has so far held back on the controversial issues – to save the peace in the coalition? On Thursday last week, the head of the “Progress Coalition” said with regard to the dispute over the EU supply chain law: “Progress is a snail.”
Dispute in economic and financial policy
There are other big chunks in the traffic light. Economics Minister Robert Habeck (Greens) and Finance Minister and FDP leader Christian Lindner agree on the analysis. In view of the economic downturn and structural problems such as a high tax burden compared to international standards and high energy prices, companies in Germany must be relieved in order to be able to assert themselves on global markets in the future.
But there are different ideas about what relief should look like. Habeck wants a debt-financed special fund worth billions, for example to enable tax credits for investments in climate protection. A growth package planned by the federal government could be torn apart in a mediation process between the Bundesrat and the Bundestag.
The FDP, however, rejects more debt and a reform of the debt brake. In addition to less bureaucracy, she suggests, among other things, completely abolishing the solidarity surcharge, which is controversial among the SPD and the Greens.
But rifts in the coalition are not only emerging in economic and financial policy. Much is also unclear in energy policy – for example, whether there should be support for solar companies so that they can continue to produce in Germany in the face of cheap competition from China. The FDP is also cautious about plans from the Agriculture Ministry led by department head Cem Özdemir (Greens) for a new consumption tax – an “animal welfare cent” as a surcharge for meat in the supermarket in order to financially support farmers in converting animal husbandry.
Criticism of the FDP
SPD parliamentary group deputy Detlef Müller said it was common practice for the federal government to abstain from decisions in the EU if there was no consensus within the government. “It is annoying when consent to compromises in favor of Germany’s interests is initially signaled, but then this is withdrawn at the last minute. This weakens trust in Germany and worsens our basis for negotiations. Politics is more than saying what is not possible.” Above all, it has to be reliable. “I expect constructive cooperation from our coalition partner here.”
Philipp Türmer, federal chairman of the Jusos, criticized: “The FDP currently only knows one situation, especially at the European level: blockade.” The list of topics on which she is no longer even willing to discuss is getting longer and longer. “So far, this has primarily ensured that the self-proclaimed Progressive Party becomes a party of stagnation.”
Greenpeace mobility expert Benjamin Stephan said: “It is high time for Olaf Scholz to make the FDP antics about truck limits a top priority. The Chancellor must stop this new backwards role of the FDP before the party finally ends Germany in the EU with its staged blockades makes him an unreliable candidate.”
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.