Andreas Audretsch, vice-chairman of the Green parliamentary group, was incensed by a FOCUS online interview in which CDU General Secretary Carsten Linnemann portrayed the Green Party in an unfavorable light. Audretsch responds here – and at the same time confirms that the CDU/CSU is indispensable.

FOCUS online: Mr. Audretsch, you were uncomfortable with the fact that CDU General Secretary Carsten Linnemann painted a picture of your Green Party in the FOCUS online interview that you felt was in need of contradiction. He described the Greens, in a nutshell, as a party of prohibition that wanted to bully people. Your response?

Audretsch: That is populism and has nothing to do with reality. We Greens are banking on future technologies, new prosperity and good jobs, but unfortunately Mr Linnemann and his party are not yet up to date in this regard. During his visit to Germany, French President Macron called for a new economic model for Europe. He linked this to the requirement to invest massively in future technologies, in solar energy, electromobility and heat pumps.

Oh yes, heat pumps. That’s a rather scary word for homeowners these days…

…and that is precisely the problem. We Greens certainly made mistakes in the debate on the heating law. But the difference to the Union is: we want cutting-edge technology of the future, while the CDU and CSU are launching one campaign after another against it – against heat pumps, against electric cars, against wind and solar energy. This is exactly how we endanger Germany’s future viability, prosperity and job security.

What do you think will become of the Green Deal proposed by EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen? Her own party now seems to be taking it away piecemeal.

The CDU has obviously completely ignored climate protection. This is endangering the future of our children. The CDU and Mr Linnemann are stabbing their own top candidate, von der Leyen, in the back. They want to destroy the European “Green Deal” and sideline Germany with outdated fossil technologies, turning our country into an industrial museum. We are banking on green future technologies and want to make the Green Deal a success.

A green stab-in-the-back legend? Your own top candidate Terry Reintke casts doubt on whether EU Commission President von der Leyen ever really believed in the Green Deal, but rather only invented it for tactical reasons to secure green support.

Mrs von der Leyen’s party wants to go back to the previous millennium. At the beginning of her term of office, which is now coming to an end, the President herself made proposals that we could build on. We have pushed and achieved a lot in the European Parliament. Now the CDU wants to tear it all down again.

Can Mrs von der Leyen still hope for Green votes if she can stand for re-election in the European Parliament after the European elections?

At the moment everything is unclear. Either Ms von der Leyen is not really passionate about climate protection or she is not assertive enough. We need clarity. She must pluck up the courage now, or she will be on the side of the diehards in the CDU and CSU. The decision on whether to support Ms von der Leyen will be made by our top candidate Terry Reintke and the Green group in the European Parliament. One thing must be clear: cooperation with the Greens requires a very clear course for climate protection and against right-wing extremism and fascism in Europe.

They express concerns about a possible rapprochement between the European People’s Party (EPP) and its lead candidate von der Leyen and forces such as Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni, whose party has neo-fascist origins.

That’s right. There is a tough battle for direction in the European People’s Party. Its chairman, Manfred Weber in particular, is taking a dangerous course towards opening up to right-wing extremists. Our course is the opposite of that. We Greens are ready to be part of the solution in forming a majority, and climate protection and democracy are our top priorities. When it comes to right-wing extremists, including Ms Meloni in Italy and Ms Le Pen in France, Ms von der Leyen must finally say where she stands and take a clear stance.

What do you think about the possibilities for cooperation between your party and the CDU/CSU at the federal level beyond the European elections?

The CDU/CSU is a democratic party and has a great responsibility. We need the Union as a strong, conservative force in Germany. Of course, we are not closing any doors to it. It is important for the future of Germany that democrats remain able to talk. The Union should stop putting up walls to the Greens and concentrate on distancing itself from the right-wing extremist AfD.

What do you say to the criticism by CDU General Secretary Linnemann that the Greens are acting in a way that is hostile to performance?

The opposite is true. The CDU is pursuing an anti-performance agenda. Mr. Merz and Mr. Linnemann regularly call on people to work more, while at the same time refusing to agree to the increase in the minimum wage to twelve euros in the Bundestag. They ignore people who work hard and achieve great things. We Greens build prosperity from the middle of society, we want a real minimum wage of 14 euros in 2024 and around 15 euros in 2025. When it comes to tax relief, we want to focus on people with lower and middle incomes.

An original point of view, because the people with the highest tax and contribution burden contribute the most to securing the welfare state, and also to the tax subsidy for pensions.

Pensions are also about performance, about life’s work. The CDU rejects the current pension package and thus the stabilization of pension levels. It is primarily about women who have been there for this society all their lives and who are now threatened with falling into bitter poverty in old age by the thousands. That is why we will stabilize pension levels. This has something to do with recognizing life’s work.

“Ukraine is the front line”

Please allow me to ask you one more question about the Greens’ self-image. In the past, paint bombs would fly at your party conferences when the party leadership called for more military involvement. Today, when it comes to the question of Germany’s defense capability, you are actually completely compatible with the CDU/CSU and the FDP. How come?

It is not just about defending Ukraine, but also, quite specifically, about preserving our own freedom, our free way of life. Russian President Vladimir Putin is attacking everything that defines Europe. We Greens are deeply rooted in this free, democratic order. We must now defend it as a whole, and Ukraine is the front line. In this respect, we do indeed have points of overlap with the Union.