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Finance: Lindner: Budget discussions “not yet in the landing zone”

Finance: Lindner: Budget discussions “not yet in the landing zone”
Finance: Lindner: Budget discussions “not yet in the landing zone”

The talks on the budget in the traffic light coalition are going slowly. There is no end in sight. Meanwhile, left-wing Social Democrats have submitted a member petition against social cuts.

According to Federal Finance Minister Christian Lindner, the coalition still has a lot of work to do in its difficult deliberations on the 2025 federal budget. “We have not yet reached the landing zone,” the FDP politician told the “Neue Osnabrücker Zeitung”. It is “not just about a draft budget for next year,” “but also about a fundamental turnaround in our economy,” stressed the Finance Minister.

Lindner added: “Redistributing state money and subsidies do not create added value.” In addition, the state must become more capable of taking action in its core tasks. “The restriction therefore offers the opportunity to focus more on the really important projects in education, digitalization, infrastructure and security,” stressed Lindner. He does not want to make the success of the negotiations dependent on individual measures, but on the “level of ambition overall”.

The traffic light coalition actually wanted to present a draft budget on July 3. However, Lindner had already indicated that the draft could come later. The finance minister is constantly negotiating the budget with Chancellor Olaf Scholz (SPD) and Economics Minister Robert Habeck (Greens). SPD leader Saskia Esken had warned Lindner against an overly rigid austerity policy and in this context against a “historic mistake”.

The minister rejected this again. He pointed out in the newspaper that social benefits had been expanded since 2022. However, the country lacks economic growth and cannot continue as it has done for the past ten years. “Ms. Esken must also recognize that prosperity must first be generated before it can be distributed,” stressed the finance minister.

SPD-Linke: Members’ request for the budget

Meanwhile, left-wing Social Democrats have submitted a member request to the party executive committee that opposes cuts in the social sector, among other things, in the ongoing negotiations for the 2025 federal budget. The proposed resolution, supported by the “Forum DL21”, for example, has been made available to the German Press Agency. “Spiegel” was the first to report on it. The party leadership is partly critical of this.

For the areas of social affairs, health, youth, family, education, democracy and development cooperation, the paper states: “The departmental approaches of the ministries concerned must not be cut compared to the previous year’s budget. Instead, we need growth in these areas as well as significantly more investment in affordable housing, sustainable infrastructure, strong municipalities and ambitious climate protection.”

The justification is given under the title “Don’t cut our democracy, invest in our future!”: “An austerity budget would be a ghost ride in economic, ecological and democratic terms.” The paper concludes with the appeal: “The party calls on the members of the SPD parliamentary group to only agree to a federal budget under these conditions.”

The Jusos also support the proposal: “The Juso Federal Executive Board supports the goal of the DL21 of a membership request among SPD members for a strong investment budget and the prevention of an austerity budget as desired by the FDP,” a spokesman for the party’s youth wing told dpa.

Restrictions for the Chancellor

If successful, such a member request could limit the room for maneuver of Chancellor Olaf Scholz (SPD) in the negotiations with Federal Finance Minister Christian Lindner (FDP) and Vice Chancellor Robert Habeck (Greens).

According to the “Forum DL21”, the request requires the support of one percent of SPD members from at least ten sub-districts in at least three federal states. That is currently almost 4,000 members who would have to declare their support online within a month. The request will therefore come into effect if 20 percent of members support it within three months, i.e. around 76,000. The party executive must then declare whether it will grant the request – otherwise a member decision will be made.

Lower Saxony’s Prime Minister Stephan Weil (SPD) is critical of the plan. “A federal budget like this is more than complex and completely unsuitable for a member survey,” he told “Welt am Sonntag”.

Tug of war over the budget

The dispute over savings in the 2025 budget is currently paralyzing the traffic light coalition and repeatedly raising questions about the continued existence of the three-party coalition. Various departments do not want to comply with Lindner’s savings targets. However, the finance minister insists that the debt brake anchored in the constitution is adhered to. This only allows for new debt to a limited extent. He argues that the investment needs up to 2030 and beyond can be covered by the regular budget. However, this requires that expenditure be reallocated and priorities shifted. He cites the social budget as an example.

Source: Stern

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