Consumer advocate Ramona Pop: Energy price brakes "important for noticeable relief"
Bernd von Jutrczenka / dpa
An end to the price restrictions could have drastic consequences: The head of the Federation of German Consumer Organisations (VZBV), Ramona Pop, has warned of an end to the electricity and gas price brakes as a result of the Karlsruhe budget ruling. "The federal government must continue the price brakes this winter as promised. A premature end would be unbearable for many people," Pop told Handelsblatt. Consumers should not be left behind.
Pop recalled that citizens had already been confronted with high costs for gas, district heating and electricity in recent months. The energy price brakes are therefore "important for a noticeable relief".
Last week, the Federal Constitutional Court declared a reallocation of loans of 60 billion euros in the 2021 budget null and void. They had been approved to cope with the corona crisis, but were to be used for climate protection and the modernisation of the economy. Now the billions are not available. There is currently a fierce debate about the consequences of the ruling for the handling of debt-financed special funds in the federal and state governments.
Federal Economics Minister Robert Habeck said on Monday morning that he feared that the Karlsruhe budget ruling would also have an impact on the energy price brakes. The ruling only affects the climate and transformation fund, said the Green politician on Deutschlandfunk . However: "In the explanatory memorandum, the judgment, because it is so fundamentally spoken, in fact basically refers to all funds that have been set up and that are over the years."
Billions already paid out
This would also affect funds that have already been disbursed this year. By the end of October, 31.2 billion euros had already flowed out of the WSF, namely 11.1 billion euros for the gas price brake and 11.6 billion euros for the electricity price brake, plus 4.8 billion euros for emergency natural gas aid and 3.7 billion euros in subsidies for network charges.
The energy price brakes were intended to mitigate the rapid rise in gas and electricity prices following Russia's attack on Ukraine. Aid was also provided for companies that were particularly affected. To this end, the special fund, which is economically independent of the core budget, was fed with loans amounting to 200 billion euros. Whether the funds will still be available next year is just as doubtful as whether the money should have been paid at all this year.