Chancellor Olaf Scholz has promised companies and citizens help in the gas crisis, but brakes against expectations that are too high. “We will not be able to subsidize all prices,” Scholz said on ZDF on Thursday. “No country in the world can do that.” The government will also not be able to promise that it will be possible to stop the rise in gas and oil prices on the world market.
But the federal government is examining, for example, in the so-called concerted action with trade unions and employers, how one can and must help in view of the high energy prices, said Scholz. For many companies and private customers, the high gas prices have not yet had an impact, but this will happen with a time lag.
The government is working flat out to prevent a gas shortage in Germany. Preparations are also being made in the event that this situation arises, said the Chancellor. However, it would be irresponsible to get involved in something that you are currently trying to avert, said Scholz.
He also contradicted the impression that the crisis was overwhelming Germany’s finances. “The state bankruptcy is really not imminent,” emphasized Scholz. On the contrary, Germany will return to the old level of debt “in a relatively short time” if everything continues as normal. The German economy has the potential to reduce debt. Compared to many other countries, Germany will come out of the crisis relatively well.
Scholz currently sees no possibility for tax increases to distribute the burden of inflation more fairly. “We have no legislative majority for tax increases,” said the SPD politician.
“This is something where different beliefs exist,” he added, referring to coalition partner FDP. He himself is in favor of a fairer tax system, as was anchored in the SPD program for the federal elections last year.
Politicians from the SPD and the Greens are calling for companies and the rich to get more involved in the current crisis. Above all, there is talk of an excess profit tax for mineral oil companies, which benefit greatly from high energy prices.
Most recently, SPD General Secretary Kevin Kühnert and Bundestag Vice President Katrin Göring-Eckardt spoke out in favor of this in the “Spiegel”. But there are also demands for a property tax or an increase in inheritance tax.
However, the FDP categorically rejects tax increases. “In view of the fragile economic development, such debates are completely counterproductive. There is a risk of a downward spiral of recession and increasing burdens,” General Secretary Bijan Djir-Sarai told dpa at the beginning of the week.
Despite the growing economic problems in his own country, Scholz appealed to maintain solidarity with Ukraine for as long as necessary. “I believe that you can only act with the support of the citizens,” he said. “But I believe that this will be possible for a very long time and that we can maintain solidarity with Ukraine from Germany for as long as it is necessary.”
Germany is also obliged to show this solidarity for its own sake, because democracy and the rule of law are being defended in Ukraine against the Russian attackers. “We cannot accept a country attacking its neighbors and saying I’m stealing a piece of the land, it’s mine now.”
Scholz defended the sanctions imposed on Russia. Politicians from the left and AfD had recently called for punitive measures against Russia to be lifted or for the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline to be put into operation in order to avert an energy emergency.
There are fears that Russia could completely stop supplying gas to Germany as early as July. In the course of the Ukraine war, the prices for energy, but also for food, for example, have risen significantly.
In addition, Scholz criticized the green EU label for investments in certain gas and nuclear power plants. “I always thought that was wrong,” he said. The federal government made up of SPD, Greens and FDP voted against it, but could no longer prevent the regulation.
They then made sure “that it still suits us halfway”. Scholz emphasized: “In Germany we are in complete agreement that nuclear energy is not green.”
A majority in the EU Parliament backed the eco-label project on Wednesday. Specifically, it is about a supplementary legal act to the so-called taxonomy of the EU. It is a classification system designed to steer private investment into sustainable economic activities and thus support the fight against climate change.
It is relevant for companies because it influences the investment decisions of investors and could therefore have an impact on the financing costs of projects, for example. Investors should also be able to avoid investments in climate-damaging economic sectors.
Before the vote, environmentalists had asked MEPs to vote against the new legal act. Among other things, they criticize the fact that greenhouse gases are emitted when energy is generated using natural gas. In the case of nuclear power, the main problem is the waste, but also possible accidents.