04.09.2022, Berlin: Bundeskanzler Olaf Scholz (SPD, l), nimmt neben Christian Lindner (FDP), Bundesminister der Finanzen, an der Pressekonferenz nach den Beratungen von SPD, Grünen und FDP im Koalitionsausschuss teil. Der Koalitionsausschuss des Ampelbündnisses hat ein neues Entlastungspaket für die Bürger beschlossen. Foto: Michael Kappeler/dpa +++ dpa-Bildfunk +++

It deserves the utmost respect as the chancellor and the traffic light coalition are struggling to put together the best possible third relief package for the good of the country. And ultimately it doesn’t matter whether, as was the case with Package II, it violates its own principle that there should be no night meetings.

The pressure is enormous, approval is dwindling and the crisis is complex – under these circumstances it is an important signal that a powerful package has been successful; that trust in the coalition is intact. Almost nothing got out in advance, everyone, especially the FDP and its chairman and finance minister, Christian Lindner, have moved. Is it enough?

65 billion, many adjustments are being made. But perhaps the most important measure has only been announced for the time being. Only when a system has been found, for example to skim off the sometimes absurd profits that operators of coal-fired power plants, solar and wind energy plants make in the electricity sector as a result of high gas prices, should an electricity price brake be financed with it. A basic consumption would be significantly cheaper. And: For all citizens with gas heating there is no prospect of such a price brake – only a commission is used for this purpose. There are also other one-time payments and relief, but much is still vague, many are classic compromises, such as the future 49 to 69 euro ticket.

Countries like Spain and Portugal have long since introduced energy price brakes – and skim off the chance profits, something that touches the sense of justice of many citizens who are currently despairing of the price increases. It is good that Chancellor Olaf Scholz uses the appearance in the Chancellery to send some clear messages.

Yes, the country is facing a difficult time. But the coalition could only give the package a short breath.

Scholz’s political style is increasingly reaching its limits, he rarely manages to build emotional bridges to the citizens. And he made a promise that could hardly be kept: The sentence “You’ll never walk alone” was chosen by him more or less at random and didn’t follow any major strategy – just like the traffic light has to improvise on the fly almost every day.

Now he has to somehow fulfill this promise, which for some citizens looks like a guarantee of savings in the financial crisis. But the state cannot compensate for everything, even if the SPD has for years seen its main task as paving new problems with new benefits like a first-aid team.

Instead, the chancellor should adjust the citizens to the new reality more clearly than before: after many good years, there will be more bad years with losses in prosperity.

But together we can get through this. It must be prevented that the scissors in the country widen even further and that there is a wave of anger. But that is only possible with clear announcements. Why doesn’t Scholz say in no uncertain terms: We are in the middle of an economic and energy war with Russia because of Putin’s crimes. There will be a lack of gas in the winter when nothing comes through Nord Stream 1.

The gas storage facilities, which are already 85 percent full, will certainly not get the country through the winter. The extent of the distortions depends on one factor that no coalition in the world can influence: the weather.

It was a mistake that the EU countries did not act together and buy gas, as they did with the corona vaccines, for example through contracts with Qatar, which could also have influenced the prices to their own advantage. A wave of bankruptcies is imminent and many people could lose their jobs. You only have to hear the alarm calls from bakeries, not to mention the glass, chemical and steel industries.

The steel group ArcelorMittal has already stopped production in Bremen and Hamburg. Vladimir Putin’s perfidious plan also aims to destroy the backbone of the German economy, the industry.

This crisis, which was instigated solely by Putin – it’s good that Scholz clearly emphasizes it – is so big that you won’t be able to counteract it with more and more new packages. There is now no need to insist on one’s own dogmas (the Greens should give the green light for an extension of the nuclear lifetime), but rather a pragmatic crisis policy, real leadership, not just announced leadership.

This is aimed at the Chancellor and the traffic light parties, but also brings the opposition into play. There is a state election in Lower Saxony on October 9th, but isn’t the situation too serious for the Union to continue its tough course against the traffic lights? Wouldn’t it be time for Friedrich Merz to tell the traffic light – for a while – we’ll help you, let’s think about what to do next – and together we’ll continue to support Ukraine, don’t lift the sanctions against Russia Question. It is the Union that, under Angela Merkel, has expanded this fatal gas dependency on Russia, in cooperation with the SPD. So she has a special responsibility.

One only has to look to the Czech Republic this weekend, where tens of thousands demonstrated against high energy prices, the negative scenario: Under the pressure of the protests in the winter, governments may fall or they may choose to lift sanctions against Russia; the common EU position is at stake, Putin wants exactly that, divide the West, his trolls are also doing successful work in Germany. The relief package III is an important step, but now everything has to be implemented first, above all in a technically correct manner. And the even greater art will be to hold the country and Europe together in winter.