Traffic light gas price cap: And it went boom

The state price brake comes late and is expensive – but it is sorely needed. Social peace is at stake.

Robert Habeck and Christian Lindner were able to come to an agreement with Scholz Photo: Lisi Niesner / Reuters

Criticized a thousand times, nothing happened a thousand times. But now the gas surcharge for consumers is actually history. And more: the federal government puts up a 200 billion euro protective shield, which also includes a price brake for gas and other aids for companies. It really did boom, or to use the words of the Federal Chancellor: double boom.

This boom – which is initially of a purely psychological nature, because the details of the price brake are still unclear – will be expensive, but it is sorely needed. Because it’s not just about saving the German economy from collapsing, but also about stabilizing social cohesion, and therefore democracy.

The government hesitated for a long time, almost too long, before it finally decided to take drastic measures. Was it really necessary to wait until two days before the introduction of the gas levy, which had already been enshrined in law, in order to then overturn it and announce a price brake that would entail further borrowing? Other countries such as France had already capped energy prices when the traffic light coalition in Germany was still arguing and the FDP preferred to talk mantra-like of budgetary discipline.

The alleged acts of sabotage on the Nord Stream gas pipelines in the Baltic Sea, but above all the autumn report, which was also presented on Thursday will have accelerated decision-making, especially in the FDP. The economic prospects are bleak. Germany is threatened with an economic downturn, with inflation continuing to rise. The possible consequences: plant closures, unemployment, impoverishment.

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That would mean a toxic cocktail for democracy. Confidence in this is crumbling, especially in the east, like the report of the Eastern Commissioner just showed. In order to regain confidence, it is essential that the price cap for energy that is currently being negotiated really protects people from freezing or having to go into debt. Because half of the population has hardly any reserves and cannot cope with exorbitant additional payments.

But it’s not just about solidarity. The sums that Germany is now raising are needed to ensure solidarity with Ukraine and maintain sanctions against Russia, despite the energy war that Putin has instigated. The course of the government remains correct. But she must not leave people alone with the consequences of this policy.

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