According to Federal Economy Minister Robert Habeck, the economic situation in Germany is getting worse. High energy prices are already reaching more and more citizens. Is the headwind growing?
It is a mild summer evening in the courtyard of the Old Castle in Bayreuth. Restaurants and cafes around are well equipped, a peaceful view. But when Robert Habeck appears on the small stage in the courtyard, the calm is over.
The Minister of Economy and Climate Protection sounded “Get Humb”, Habeck’s words are almost drowned out by the noise and whistles. There are several dozen protesters. They are in the minority this Thursday night, but they are challenging Habeck.
Habeck was insulted as a “warrior”.
In the posters, the Green politician is insulted as a “warrior”. The vice chancellor supported arms shipments to Ukraine, which was under attack from Russia. This was a difficult and morally ambivalent decision, says Habeck. But he makes it clear: If Germany were to leave Ukraine alone and let people “die alone” – Germany would no longer be innocent. His critics confused cause and effect. “There is a warmonger in Europe, but he is Putin,” Habeck shouted with vigor.
The minister is on a two-day summer tour. He has already visited companies in Saxony-Anhalt and Bavaria, and the ministry organized a public dialogue in the festival city of Bayreuth for Thursday evening. Habek also receives praise, a citizen thanks him for having the “balls” to stay here. In most, however, there are critical, reproachful questions. The entrepreneurs talk about their needs, a citizen asks Habek if he remembers his oath of office: to avoid harm from the German people.
Habeck: Don’t give up the “corsets of values”.
Habeck counters: It’s about protecting the basic free democratic order, the liberal constitutional state, and protecting the integrity of borders and states, he says of Ukraine. Germany has become dependent on Russian gas. Raising the “white flag” is not a solution. Regarding the rise in energy prices, he made it clear that despite the financial disadvantages, the war of Russian aggression in Ukraine should not be tolerated: “We cannot give up our core values.”
Habeck accuses Russia of lying. He talks about a “farce” about a turbine for the Baltic Sea’s Nord Stream 1 gas pipeline being serviced in Canada. She has been in Germany since Monday last week. All the papers were there, he had them in his hand. But Russia refuses to bring the turbine to its country. “They lie to your face.”
According to the Russian energy company Gazprom, the turbine is important to create the pressure needed to pump the gas. Gazprom has repeatedly accused its contractual partner SiemensEnergy of not sending the necessary documents and information to repair the machine. SiemensEnergy denied the allegations. Gazprom reduced supplies through Nord Stream 1 to 20 percent of maximum capacity on Wednesday because, according to the company, a turbine still needed to be serviced.
However, whether and how Germany will get through the winter depends to a large extent on the gas supply from Nord Stream 1 – in addition to the construction of terminals for liquefied natural gas in Germany, more efforts to save gas in Germany and the filling of warehouses . objects. Habeck calls these key factors. The government will do everything possible to avoid an emergency situation in which political decisions must be made about which consumption will be reduced.
But the minister cannot give any guarantees. And private households are now increasingly feeling the consequences of price explosions in energy markets. They reach customers step by step. This is one. The other is price increases caused by the government. Because as part of the rescue package for the ailing energy group Uniper, the federal government decided that suppliers could spend expensive replacement purchases due to curbing Russian gas supplies to all gas customers through a surcharge from the autumn. Habeck talks about several hundred euros more per year and bitter news.
Major housing benefit reform
Chancellor Olaf Scholz (SPD) has announced relief, such as a major reform of housing benefit early next year. Habeck, however, sees the need to talk about additional relief, if possible this year. There is an “area” that has not yet been “enlightened” politically. Habeck talks about “normal earners” who don’t make a large amount of money per month. “Since I think I know what burdens may come, I am clearly on the side of being more generous.” The Minister of Economic Affairs is also in favor of an excessive profit tax for companies that make high profits due to high price increases. markets. However, Finance Minister Christian Lindner (FDP) categorically opposes this.
But Habeck is now going on the socio-political offensive. So the present defines this short summer tour. The climate protection minister also wanted to show a glimpse of the “green” future. At the Bad Lauchstädt energy park in Saxony-Anhalt, hydrogen produced from wind power will be produced from 2024 and transported to the nearby Leuna chemical park via a natural gas pipeline that has been repurposed. The signal is clear: the age of gas is coming to an end. But the main question is: when?
Habeck: The economic situation in Germany has come to a head
Robert Habeck (Greens) described the economic situation in Germany as critical. During a visit to glassmaker Wiegand Glas in Schleusingen in Thuringia on Friday, Habeck cited structural issues such as a lack of skilled workers and planning and approval processes that were too long. These problems had been neglected for a long time and now had to be solved. In addition, there are current crises such as disrupted supply chains caused by the corona pandemic and high gas prices as a result of Russia’s war of aggression in Ukraine.
High gas prices hit companies and consumers hard. In this context, Habeck called on the EU Commission to improve the specifications for energy-intensive companies. The requirements are very strict, the programs also need to be expanded. Habeck made it clear again that the state cannot mitigate all additional burdens, for example on the energy-intensive glass industry. Businesses and consumers have a burden to bear, he said.