Dhe Bavarian Prime Minister and CSU boss Markus Söder sensed a conspiracy between the north and the south even before the gas shortage was an issue. Shortly after the lost federal election, he said that it was part of a new “Bavarian narrative” to work out the difference between the “traffic light north” and the “free south”, which is defending itself against the new federal government. Are the current fears that the south could suffer particularly from gas shortages just a scam?
Bayern far from themselves. As particularly striking evidence of their suspicions, they recently cited an appearance by Klaus Müller, the President of the Federal Network Agency. He had said that there would be “a new north-south divide” in the future, because gas would “come from Norway via Holland and Belgium” in the future. Last but not least, this would affect those who “have acted very spread-legged and self-confident in recent years because they lived in a very favorable geographical location”.
The term “legs apart” is a code word for Söder, who immediately felt addressed: “If the Bavarian bloodstream is blocked, there will be a German heart attack.” The CSU also did not fail to point out that Müller was once the Green Minister of the Environment – and where? In Schleswig-Holstein, in the far north.
Müller refers to the context of his statement
Müller, who incidentally comes from central Germany and has worked there for most of his life, does not deny that he made statements about the north-south divide with particular reference to the Free State of Bavaria. But he attaches importance to the context: It was a non-public event, the Fourth Berlin Congress for Defensive Democracy. On the podium, his “old friend” Wolfgang Bosbach, a cheerful Rhenish native and not a green man, as is well known, asked him whether the “spread-legged” appearance of Bavarians was still up-to-date under the new sign. He took up this witty formulation and answered it just as wittily.
In any case, there is no reason to assume that he or his authority wanted to starve Bavaria or even the south, including Baden-Württemberg, Rhineland-Palatinate and Hesse, at their outstretched arm, even if the Hessian Prime Minister Boris Rhein recently jumped in in the FAZ podcast Söder and said southern Germany was being neglected. Müller asserts: “I have taken an oath of office that applies to all of Germany.” At the moment he is only the messenger who is beaten for a message that is indeed a challenge.
So far, the south has benefited from the Baltic Sea Pipeline Link (OPAL) near Lubmin, which has transported large volumes of gas delivered via the Nord Stream 1 pipeline to Bavaria via the Czech Republic. If less and less gas comes through the pipeline and is replaced by Norwegian gas, for example, which is delivered via liquid gas terminals in the North and Baltic Seas, then that would be a problem for the south, since the gas route could then lead via the consumption centers in western Germany. In any case, according to Müller, the energy supply is “a question of geography and physics, not of politics”.
His authorities have recently done everything in their power to prevent bottlenecks in the south. Müller names five points that he recently presented to the Bavarian cabinet. First, the Wolfersberg storage facility, which is important for Bavaria, has been filled for weeks. Secondly, the state rescue of Uniper has meant that the energy supplier now sees itself in a position to fill up storage facilities in Bavaria and Baden-Württemberg instead of emptying them.