A few days before the gas levy comes into effect, the federal government feverishly working on an alternative. SPD General Secretary Kevin Kühnert said after a meeting of the SPD party presidium that Chancellor Scholz had been in close contact with Economics Minister Robert Habeck (Greens) and Finance Minister Christian Lindner (FDP) “for days” about the gas levy. All three coalition partners have a certain interest in the gas levy not being raised in the end.
Formally it should gas surcharge be charged from Saturday. Municipal utilities and suppliers can then charge their customers 2.4 cents per kilowatt hour. The money is intended to support gas importers who can no longer get gas from Russia and have to buy expensive replacements. The criticism of the surcharge had become louder and louder in the past few days – not only because of the burden on consumers and companies. Habeck had raised legal doubts, Lindner had economic ones at the weekend. There is now little doubt that the surcharge will fall. It is only open when.
From the perspective of the SPD, there should be another solution “this week”. Huge billions would have to be raised to support the energy companies, said Kühnert. “This money will be found,” said Kühnert. Nobody in Germany should have to pay the surcharge, “not even temporarily”. It is important that the federal government has shown that it is able to recognize and correct a mistake. “That’s happening right now.” The federal government only decided on the levy at the beginning of last month.
Lindner has also turned away from the levy – he is now calling for a “gas price brake”. After his party’s presidium meeting, he called for “extraordinary measures to be taken very quickly” in order to rule out “peak loads”. With a view to the financing, Lindner said: “Of course, it is also a task of the federal government to present a gas price brake financially. That will be significant funds.” However, he again emphasized that the relevant instruments “must be linked to the explicit commitment to the debt brake in the federal budget”.
Meanwhile, Greens leader Ricarda Lang is increasing the pressure on Lindner to submit a proposal for alternative financing. The debt brake must not become a brake on economic strength. Lindner, on the other hand, warned of a “general dam breach” if the debt brake were lifted.
However, millions of gas customers have already received mail from their gas suppliers – with the demand that they also pay the surcharge in the future. The municipal utility association VKU therefore demands a quick decision. “The longer the wait, the more confusion,” said VKU boss Ingbert Liebing. Politicians want to “encourage people to quickly stop the gas surcharge and set up state financing”.