AIn the end, the leaders of the traffic light parties were satisfied with the results of their two-and-a-half-day coalition negotiations on Tuesday evening. Lars Klingbeil, one of the two SPD chairmen, pointed out that last year was essentially characterized by reacting to the war in Ukraine with suitable measures. The goal now is to achieve the transformation of Germany. Klingbeil cited the strengthening of the railways, the expansion of renewable energies and a “massive” acceleration of approval procedures as examples.
Ricarda Lang, one of the two Green Party chairmen, said it was “by no means” easy negotiations. But in recent years “a lot has been left behind”. Now the traffic light is “finally” going to structural reforms. Lang cited the expansion of the railway as an example. The investment requirement up to 2027 amounts to 45 billion euros. The traffic light now wants to increase the truck toll and use 80 percent of the money raised to expand the rail network.
A “cross-sectoral accounting”
The coalition has also agreed on the expansion of motorways, which has been controversial for so long, especially between the FDP and the Greens, as was announced on Tuesday evening. The FDP chairman Christian Lindner pointed out that 144 motorway projects, so-called bottlenecks, had been identified, the expansion of which should be classified as “overriding public interest”. This means that the planning acceleration can also take effect for them. The Greens had initially resisted. Therefore, Lang set the focus differently, spoke of the fact that one wanted to accelerate the expansion with a “limited number” of roads. But in the future, when building motorways, space should be used for the expansion of solar energy.
What particularly delayed the negotiations was a heated argument between the coalition partners, especially between the FDP and the Greens, about the extent to which the reduction targets for CO2 emissions should be mandatory for the individual sectors. That was intended in the cornerstones of the immediate climate protection program from the Green Federal Ministry of Economics. The FDP insisted on more flexibility. The background is that the transport sector, for which Transport Minister Volker Wissing (FDP) is responsible, will not achieve the goals according to current plans. The coalition agreement is sufficiently unclear on this issue: on the one hand, it states that all sectors “must make a contribution”, on the other hand, there is talk of “cross-sectoral accounts”.
In the sixteen-page resolution of the coalition agreement, headed “Modernization package for climate protection and planning acceleration, there is a compromise between the two positions. The FDP can claim that the sectors will actually be considered “aggregated” in the future. So that – as Green Party leader Lang put it – the sectors “could help” each other. This means that over-achieving targets in one area could offset another that is missing targets. The problem is that there is currently no question of a balanced overall account. Therefore, as a concession to the Greens, it was agreed that ministries that miss the targets in their sectors will be obliged to follow up. According to the decision, all federal ministries, but “especially those in whose area of responsibility lie the sectors that caused the failure to meet the target”, would have to contribute to reduction measures.
The coalition partners met on Sunday evening for a meeting of the coalition committee, negotiated through the night and initially interrupted the meeting on Monday. On Tuesday, negotiations continued for the entire day. Chancellor Olaf Scholz had already announced in the afternoon that a “big workpiece” would come out of it.
The chairman of the Union faction in the Bundestag, CDU leader Friedrich Merz, commented on the negotiations of the coalition on Tuesday. “We obviously have a government crisis in Germany,” he said before the start of a meeting of the CDU/CSU parliamentary group. The federal government could not agree on essential issues. “She has been constantly arguing publicly in the last few days and weeks.” After so many hours of fruitless consultations, “basically, you can hardly count on viable and resilient solutions,” said Merz. He complained that the European partners had doubts about Berlin’s ability to act. “Germany is now registered in Brussels as a total failure. A country that you can no longer count on.” After almost 30 hours of negotiations, Chancellor Scholz came to a completely different conclusion: “After many hours of intensive discussions, I can say: It was worth it,” he wrote on Twitter on Tuesday evening.