Energy remains expensive for a long time - fear of "trial"English 

Energy remains expensive for a long time – fear of “trial”

The debate about rising energy prices and their consequences is growing rapidly. Warnings about the risk of social tensions are getting louder.

Federal Chancellor Olaf Scholz (SPD) assumes that measures against energy shortages will also be necessary beyond next winter. In a video message released on Saturday, the chancellor said: “These days we are concerned about the security of our energy supply. It will be for weeks, months and years to come.”

It’s not Scholz’s first warning this week. Last Monday he had already prepared the citizens for a long crisis with high prices.

The head of the Federal Network Agency Klaus Müller made a similar statement. “Even if we don’t get into a gas emergency, gas will remain expensive,” Müller told the news magazine Focus. The consequences of the current gas shortage have not yet reached consumers in terms of price. “This can quickly mean an additional burden of 2,000 to 3,000 euros per year for a family. Then the next holiday trip or new washing machine is often out of the question.” Germany is threatened with “gas poverty”.

Warning about “social proof”

The president of the German Institute for Economic Research (DIW), Marcel Fratzscher, warned of a “social trial”. Movements like the yellow vests in France are also possible in Germany, Fratzscher told “Handelsblatt”. “The current crisis may be the last straw that breaks the camel’s back for growing social divisions.” The DIW boss called for higher wages and a permanent increase in social benefits. Politicians should not try to “silence people with placebos such as lump sums”.

In an interview with Deutschlandfunk, Federal Economy Minister Robert Habeck (Greens) also spoke of an impending “trial”. If the “nightmare scenario” of gas shortages becomes a reality, he expects heated debate, Habeck said. “This will put Germany to a decisive test that we have not had for a long time,” he added. “This will strain social solidarity to the limit and perhaps beyond.”

In an interview with media group Funke, the head of the Left party, Martin Schirdewan, called for targeted support for low-income families with a “social climate bonus” of 125 euros per month plus 50 euros for each additional family member. the family. He also spoke in favor of capping energy prices “so people can stay warm and watch TV next winter”. This should be financed by a tax on profits.

Schirdewan rejected appeals to conserve energy. “I advise people not to fall for the propaganda of giving up,” he said. “It cannot be a question of less heating or a colder shower.”

Urgent words from the head of the network agency

On the other hand, the head of Netzagentur, Müller, renewed the call to save energy and therefore gas, with the aim of an imminent shortage in autumn and winter. Every measure, no matter how small, is important”, he told “Focus”. “I understand some people are laughing at him now. They’ll stop laughing when they get their next gas bill.”

If the federal government announces the third and final phase in the gas emergency plan, the Federal Grid Agency will act as the federal load distributor – it will decide who gets how much gas. So-called protected consumers, including private households, then have priority. Many companies, for example in industry, may no longer receive gas. “Anyone who does not want to save gas out of solidarity or in the interest of climate protection should think about the competitiveness of our country,” Müller said.

DIHK even fears a recession

The debate has been exacerbated by fears of an end to gas supplies from Russia. Annual maintenance work on the Baltic Sea’s Nord Stream 1 pipeline, which usually lasts ten days, is scheduled to begin on Monday (11 July). The big concern is that Russia will no longer turn on the gas tap after maintenance. This would be “supergau”, said Peter Adrian, President of the German Chamber of Industry and Commerce (DIHK), German Press Agency. “Many companies would have to stop their production without gas supplies. If that happens, then clearly I fear a recession.”

In addition, there was the problem of obstacles, continued Adriani. There are companies that need gas to make tubing for dialysis machines, for example. “From the information so far, these companies do not know what is happening to them. But if the gas taps are turned off in such companies in the winter, very soon we will have obstacles in health care. There are thousands of such examples where possible interactions or chain reactions cannot be properly considered in advance.”

Chancellor Scholz stressed in his message on Saturday that the federal government had already taken many decisions within a short period of time so that Germany was well prepared “for shortages, for example when it comes to gas”. He said: “We are building pipelines, LNG terminals. We ensure that it is stored in our gas storage tanks. And we ensure that coal-fired power plants are used now to save gas.”

In the long term, however, it will be about being independent from importing oil, coal and gas and expanding the share of renewable energy. “We do that with many of the laws that were passed just this week,” the chancellor said. This is happening at a pace “that has never been seen before in Germany and that is necessary”.

dpa

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