28.07.2022, Sachsen-Anhalt, Bernburg: Die Sonne geht hinter technischen Anlagen des Erdgasspeichers Katharina auf. Mit dem Namen sollte die russische Zarin Katharina II gewürdigt werden. Die Bundesnetzagentur spricht angesichts der sinkenden Gaslieferungen aus Russland von einer angespannten, aber stabilen Lage bei der Versorgung. Die Betreiber der deutschen Erdgasspeicher gehen davon aus, dass selbst bei anhaltend niedrigen Lieferungen durch Nord Stream 1 die Depots weiter befüllt werden können. Foto: Klaus-Dietmar Gabbert/dpa +++ dpa-Bildfunk +++

Well, woke up? Apparently, the state chancellery and economic ministries of the countries work and analyze at a leisurely pace. The Federal Network Agency, which reports to the Federal Ministry of Economics, has been preparing emergency plans for the gas supply for many months. By the fall, these should determine what needs to be done if gas becomes so scarce that even extremely high prices can no longer bring the market into balance.

In this currently improbable extreme case in the coming winter, the “gas shortage”, the Federal Network Agency must determine with the help of the gas network operators where the gas will be switched off. Larger industrial companies are particularly suitable. Now, at the beginning of August, the federal states have realized that they want to have more of a say.

The previous procedure has “completely missed” the involvement of the federal states, says Berlin’s Economics Senator Stephan Schwarz (independent). In Hamburg you see it similarly. There it is argued that the knowledge of the countries and the regional gas network operators is “of great importance”. What the two don’t say: The federal states have long been integrated into the network agency’s crisis team. And of course the federal states were involved in the legislation, which is the basis for the entire process.

16 countries that want to warm up their sheep for this winter are the last thing Germany needs in this situation. There is a very high risk that house politics will be pursued and gas volumes will be disputed in a zero-sum game. “My chemical park is more important than your steelworks” – these are discussions that do not help, but paralyze.

And time is pressing anyway. Precise investigations into how the damage caused by a lack of gas can be kept as low as possible in accordance with German and European law have been commissioned, but the results are only arriving gradually.

The situation is highly complex and difficult to solve – and with the Federal Network Agency there is at least a fair arbitrator who does not pursue regional interests. It should stay that way. Federalism is a fine thing, but the fact that in an emergency that clearly affects all of Germany the countries have undue influence on the distribution of the pain does nothing except disputes and delays. And the fact that the federal states do not pull themselves together even in a serious crisis situation, but that in case of doubt everyone bakes their own roll and thus gambles away time, was shown to us several times in the corona crises.