Federal Minister of Transport Volker Wissing (FDP): "My job is not to drive Germany into bottlenecks"
Photo: IMAGO/Emmanuele Contini / IMAGO/NurPhoto
The opponents sat together for more than three hours on Tuesday evening, negotiations continued until the World Cup semi-final between Argentina and Croatia was almost over.
However, Federal Transport Minister Volker Wissing and Steffi Lemke did not come to a conclusion at their meeting with Federal Chancellor Olaf Scholz.
The so-called Planning Acceleration Act for the transport sector, as intended by the traffic light coalition, did not come about.
SPIEGEL learned this from the circles of participants.
A spokeswoman for the Ministry of Transport said: "We are in good talks." However, this nice sentence means that the coalition partners, who are at odds on this issue, had planned more.
The bill was originally scheduled to go into cabinet on Wednesday morning.
This goal is now a thing of the past, and it is questionable whether an agreement will not be reached until next year.
When asked by SPIEGEL, the Federal Environment Ministry did not want to comment on the reasons why the talks failed again.
The dispute over the Planning Acceleration Act between Wissing and the Greens has been dragging on for weeks.
The background is the lousy CO2 balance in traffic.
Up to 175 million tons of greenhouse gases are the gap that the transport sector will fill in the federal government’s climate targets by 2030.
The Minister of Transport is particularly at odds with the Green Federal Minister of Economics, Robert Habeck, who is responsible for climate issues.
Habeck accuses the colleague of having submitted too few proposals for an immediate climate protection program with which traffic would also make its contribution.
There is also bickering over an amendment to the Climate Protection Act, which has so far stipulated that every area must meet its climate targets every year.
The Greens mistrust the liberal Minister of Transport for being ambitious enough in the fight against global warming.
That's why they were alarmed when they received a draft for a planning acceleration law in the Wissing traffic area.
Similar to similar laws that have already been passed for the expansion of wind and solar power as well as liquefied natural gas terminals, it should regulate that transport projects also serve “public safety” and the “public interest”.
But which projects exactly?
The Greens claim that this should focus on rail infrastructure and, if at all, only include bridge replacements and other refurbishments.
But Wissing also wants to accelerate airports, waterways and the expansion and construction of motorways "in order to do justice to the outstanding importance of an efficient highway infrastructure for the common good," says the draft, which SPIEGEL reported on for the first time.
The paper lists 46 road construction projects.
These include the particularly controversial extension of the A100 in Berlin or the extension of the A20 in the north from Westerstede in Lower Saxony to Weede in Schleswig-Holstein.
Wissing does not consider motorway expansion to be harmful to the climate
A few hours before the showdown in the Chancellery, Wissing had once again clearly positioned itself.
When presenting his commission of experts for speeding up planning for the railways, he spoke out clearly in his ministry - for motorways.
Their expansion is no longer in conflict with climate protection, he announced.
With e-cars, they want to "decarbonize traffic," said Wissing, which is why it no longer has to be banned.
In the ears of the Greens, this is a clear declaration of war.
Because there the conviction has long been valid: New roads create new traffic and thus more toxic exhaust gases and CO₂.
The Minister of Transport finds the behavior of the coalition partner "strange".
It's about reducing traffic jams and ensuring the ever-increasing movement of goods on the road.
Accordingly, you also have to invest in the expansion and new construction of asphalt roads, not just in rails.
At the press conference on Tuesday afternoon, Wissing also spoke out in favor of the railways.
On the one hand.
"I don't want restructuring to fail because of money," he explained.
On the other hand, he rejects the priority of rail over road traffic.
The planned Acceleration Act is not about prioritizing which mode of transport or which individual project should be built as a priority, but solely about faster planning.
"My job as Federal Minister of Transport is not to drive Germany into bottlenecks," says Wissing.
At noon before the evening meeting in the Chancellery, Wissing was still hoping to find a solution.
Steffi Lemke, however, wants to remain firm in the autobahn dispute.
For them, it is about compliance with the coalition agreement.
On picking up the pace on the railways and on "a stronger focus on maintenance and rehabilitation, with a special focus on engineering structures" on the roads.
SPD faction deputy Detlef Müller also criticized Wissing on Tuesday: “We cannot look at all modes of transport in the same way in the long term if we ever want to achieve our climate goals.
However, new motorways should definitely not benefit from accelerated procedures," he said in an interview with SPIEGEL.