Status: 06.12.2023, 02:29 a.m.
Vice-Chancellor Robert Habeck (from left), Chancellor Olaf Scholz and Finance Minister Christian Lindner have been negotiating the budget for days. © Kay Nietfeld/dpa
The traffic light leaders do not have much time left to get the 2024 budget up and running this year. Negotiations take place in a very close circle behind closed doors - outcome uncertain.
Berlin - The wait for a compromise in the budget crisis continues: Despite days of negotiations between Chancellor Olaf Scholz (SPD), Vice Chancellor Robert Habeck (Greens) and Finance Minister Christian Lindner (FDP) behind closed doors, an agreement on the budget for the coming year is not yet in sight.
On Wednesday, the German government will meet for a cabinet meeting. It is eagerly awaited whether the budget will also be discussed. The issue was not on Tuesday night's official list of cabinet issues.
Cabinet decision or circulation procedure
In order for the budget to be approved before the end of this year, the cabinet would ideally give the green light for the plans on Wednesday. However, it would also be possible to make a decision in the so-called circular procedure, i.e. in writing. Then first the budget committee and then the Bundestag would deliberate, the latter probably in a special budget week right before Christmas. The Federal Council could approve the plans on 22 December. The SPD chairwoman Saskia Esken said on Tuesday evening in the ZDF program "Markus Lanz" that the timetable was ambitious. However, people deserve to be reassured.
According to Lindner, after the ruling of the Federal Constitutional Court three weeks ago, there is a shortfall of around 17 billion euros in the federal budget for the coming year. Germany's highest court had declared the reallocation of 60 billion euros null and void. The money had been approved as a Corona loan, but was later to be used for investments in climate protection and the modernization of the economy. In addition, the judges ruled that the federal government may not set aside loans approved in emergencies for later years.
Tug-of-war over citizens' money continues
While the traffic light leaders are deliberating, the tug-of-war over possible savings in social spending continues. The Union reiterated its call for an adjustment of the citizens' allowance. "Our goal must be to get people into work and not lure them into inaction. The citizens' allowance acts like a decommissioning premium for some recipients simply because of its amount," said the parliamentary secretary of the Union parliamentary group, Thorsten Frei, the "Rheinische Post".
According to the Federal Employment Agency, the increase in the citizens' allowance planned for the beginning of 2024 cannot be reversed. "The disbursement processes are already underway," a spokesman for the Federal Employment Agency in Nuremberg told the Funke media group (Wednesday). "It is no longer technically possible to implement values for January 2024 other than those previously published."
FDP pleads for "zero round"
According to the will of the federal government, the more than five million recipients of citizens' allowance in Germany are to receive an average of around 1 percent more money on January 2024, 12 - single people will then receive 563 euros. However, due to the budgetary problems, the debate about the amount of the citizens' allowance had flared up again. Both CDU leader Friedrich Merz and CSU leader Markus Söder consider the increase to be unreasonably high. In view of the weakening inflation, the traffic light party FDP is also pushing for a reassessment of the standard rates.
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The chairman of the FDP parliamentary group, Christian Dürr, pleaded in the "Bild" for savings in the year after next. "If the citizen's allowance rises faster than inflation in 2024, there will have to be a zero round the following year. Legally, this is also possible. Anything else would send the wrong signal." He also called for a recalculation of the procedure. Dpa