Olaf Scholz und Christian Lindner bei einer Pressekonferenz zu den Ergebnissen der Koalitions-Beratungen über finanzielle Entlastungen der Bürger in Deutschland im Bundeskanzleramt. Nach einem Verhandlungsmarathon hat sich die Ampel auf ein drittes Entlastungspaket als Ausgleich für die drastischen Preissteigerungen geeinigt. Berlin, 04.09.2022 *** Olaf Scholz and Christian Lindner at a press conference on the results of coalition consultations on financial relief for citizens in Germany in the Federal Chancellery After a marathon negotiation, the traffic light has agreed on a third relief package to compensate for the drastic price increases Berlin, 04 09 2022 Foto:xF.xKernx/xFuturexImage

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.

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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 introduced energy price brakes – and skim off the chance profits. This is something that touches the sense of justice of many citizens who are currently despairing because 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’ 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 did not 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 clearly: 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 magnitude of the disruption depends on one factor that no coalition in the world can control: 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. This 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 lifespan), 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. The state elections in Lower Saxony are 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: We’ll help you, let’s think about what to do next – and together we’ll continue to support Ukraine and not question the sanctions against Russia. 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, where tens of thousands demonstrated against high energy prices on Saturday, and you get a foretaste of a possible negative scenario: under the pressure of the protests, governments could fall in winter or decide to lift sanctions against Russia.

The common EU position is at stake. And that’s exactly what Putin wants – to split the West. His trolls also do 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.