DThe SPD has announced the end of the gas levy in the near future. “I am firmly convinced that we will come to the end of the gas levy this week,” said SPD leader Saskia Esken on Sunday evening on ARD. Her co-boss Lars Klingbeil added on ZDF: “I think politics must have the strength to correct mistakes.” He also expects a decision in the next few days: “All of this must now be clarified quickly in the government.” A waiver is the right signal to consumers and companies in view of the high gas prices. He now sees the Minister of Economic Affairs on the train: “Robert Habeck is the responsible minister, who ultimately has to make the proposal on how to proceed with the gas levy.” The Greens had proposed alternative financing from tax revenues.
Federal Finance Minister Christian Lindner had previously expressed doubts about the controversial instrument. “It’s less a question of law when it comes to the gas levy, but more and more of a question of economic meaning,” Lindner told the “Bild am Sonntag”. “We have a gas surcharge that increases the price. But we need a gas price brake that lowers the price,” added the FDP leader. It will still be some time before the federal government provides help for households, crafts, sports clubs or culture. “A gas price brake must help everyone in an economy quickly,” stressed the finance minister.
The gas surcharge is intended to support gas importers who get into trouble because of the high purchase prices for Russian gas. The surcharge for all gas users is currently set at around 2.4 cents per kilowatt hour.
SPD politician: “Gas levy cannot be maintained”
From the SPD point of view, too, the controversial gas levy is becoming increasingly unlikely. It is doubtful that she will come to the Federal Cabinet in a different form next Wednesday, as initially planned, it said on Sunday in Berlin. Actually, the levy is already legally binding according to the law and a regulation and should take effect on October 1st. But after many doubts and the nationalization of Uniper, even the Ministry of Economics, which provided the ideas and is in charge, under Robert Habeck (Greens) has moved away from it.
According to the statements made by the government in the past few days and Lindner’s concerns on Sunday, “the levy would have to be something different than previously planned,” said the traffic light groups. The energy policy spokeswoman for the SPD, Nina Scheer, makes no secret of the fact that she considers the levy to be wrong – and that it has failed in its current form. “Direct state aid is to be given priority over other support measures by law,” she told the FAZ. “With the corrections to be made to the regulation and even more so with the further nationalization of Uniper, the so-called gas surcharge cannot be maintained.”
The Ministry of Economics, led by Habeck, had identified financial constitutional issues with the gas levy. According to “Bild am Sonntag”, Habeck sent the draft law to the cabinet members last Wednesday, but in the cover letter it was “subject to the financial constitutional review” of the Ministry of Finance. Reference was also made here to the possible alternatives – direct state aid to the gas suppliers in need or taking over the additional costs of the gas importers from budget funds.
Habeck puts pressure on the Ministry of Finance
Meanwhile, Lindner emphasized to “Bild am Sonntag” that he did not want to shake the debt brake despite the foreseeable additional spending: “A gas price brake must be combined with long-term stable public finances. The debt brake for the federal budget is in place.” The debt brake anchored in the Basic Law stipulates that the federal and state governments must balance their budgets without loans. Above all, Lindner and his FDP insist on strict compliance with the rule, which was suspended for three years in the federal government due to Corona, from 2023.
For his part, Habeck put pressure on the finance minister on Sunday with a view to expanding the rescue package for small and medium-sized companies and its financing: “I hope that we in the federal government can bring about clarification in this sense,” Habeck said in a video message for the Party conference of the Southwest Greens on Sunday in Donaueschingen. “If we didn’t do that, one would have to say: We’ll leave the companies alone. And as Economics Minister, I won’t allow that. We won’t leave the companies alone – not at this time, not in Germany.” Habeck wants to take around a million small and medium-sized companies such as bakers under the rescue package. The additional costs are estimated to be in the tens of billions. The measure also serves the goal of “slowing down” the recession, said the minister.