Bfederal finance minister Christian Lindner (FDP) sees itself increasingly isolated with its commitment to the debt brake. "I've seen that I'm getting lonelier now that (CSU boss) Markus Söder has now said that the debt brake is a matter of riding on principles," Lindner told the news portal "The Pioneer". "I think we should respect the debt brake and return to it next year if possible."
The FDP chairman emphasized that Germany already had to pay 30 billion euros for debt service in 2023. More debt would have consequences. "It's not money we conjure up. It has to be paid back,” said Lindner. The state should support the efforts of the central banks. "You have to act fast and hard so that inflation doesn't become permanently entrenched."
Söder: Riding on principles is not the solution
CSU party leader Markus Söder said on Wednesday after a closed session of the CSU state parliamentary group in Kloster Banz that he was in favor of compliance with the debt brake. “But if it comes to a fantastically big, bad crisis? A dimension that goes beyond what we think? Then riding on principles can't be the solution for a country." Representatives of the Greens and SPD had long been calling for the debt brake to be suspended - among other things in view of the relief measures that are becoming necessary due to the explosion in energy prices.
Also Prime Minister of North Rhine-Westphalia Hendrik Wust (CDU) expressed doubts as to whether the debt brake can be maintained in view of the looming economic crisis in the coming year. "Only the next economic forecast and the subsequent tax estimate will show whether we can get by in 2023 without new debt, as the debt brake basically requires, or whether there is a disturbance in the overall economic balance," said Wüst of the "Rheinische Post" (Thursday).
The debt brake, which has been anchored in the Basic Law since 2009, only allows the federal and state governments to take out new loans to a limited extent. In 2020 and 2021, the federal government made use of the exceptional regulation to be able to temporarily suspend this instrument in emergency situations due to the high burden resulting from the corona pandemic.
In the meantime, a "gas price brake working group" has been set up in the Federal Ministry of Finance on Lindner's instructions. The step was taken this week, the German Press Agency learned on Thursday from people involved in the process. Lindner was extremely concerned that the effects of an "avalanche" rolling towards the German economy would be underestimated. From Lindner's point of view, the speed and scope of the measures taken to date to protect medium-sized businesses, trade and industry are still insufficient. He made that clear at an internal meeting. Therefore, the working group was concerned with the conception of measures against it. In particular, the "ruinous increase in gas prices" would have to be combated until market activity normalized.