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Manuela Schwesig (SPD and Daniel Günther (CDU) before the meeting of the mediation committee

Photo: Jörg Carstensen/dpa

In the struggle for a growth package for companies, the traffic light coalition has increased the pressure on the Union. There was no real agreement in the mediation committee of the Federal Council and Bundestag in the evening. With the votes of the traffic light majority, the committee accepted a negotiation result on the Growth Opportunities Act. Because the Union did not agree, there will now be a showdown on March 22nd in the Federal Council. The controversial law will then be voted on again.

The traffic light government has promised to hold further discussions with agriculture about relief, said Federal Council President and co-chair of the Mediation Committee Manuela Schwesig after the end of the discussions in Berlin. The Union had conditioned its approval of the law on the traffic light reversing the deletion of agricultural diesel. CSU regional group leader Alexander Dobrindt said he had no confidence that the traffic light would provide substantial relief for agriculture by March 22nd.

The Federal Council had blocked the growth package with the argument that states and municipalities would have to shoulder a large part of the costs and tax losses. In initial discussions, the negotiating partners reduced the volume of relief from the previously planned seven billion euros annually to 3.2 billion euros. Basically all that was left was a light version of the original plans. A bonus for investments in climate protection, which was originally considered the core of the law, has also already been overturned.

SPD-led states were satisfied with the slimmed-down solution, but the Union made an additional condition for its approval: the SPD, Greens and FDP would have to forego the abolition of the tax relief for agricultural diesel for farmers, which the Bundestag had already decided on. While coalition politicians criticized that the two issues had nothing to do with each other, Union politicians argued that both cases were about burdens on the economy.

An opportunity had been missed, said Dobrindt after the negotiations. One part of the economy, namely agriculture, cannot be burdened. The opportunity to build a bridge was missed. He expressly regrets that.

Lindner: The Union's refusal attitude

Federal Finance Minister Christian Lindner (FDP) accused the Union of refusing to do so. Lindner said after the meeting that the German economy urgently needs stimulus. However, the CDU and CSU refused the German economy's call for a relief perspective and growth impulses. He hopes that there will be a rethink within the Union in the next few weeks.

The Growth Opportunities Act provides for a number of tax reliefs for companies and an acceleration of approval procedures. Among other things, better tax depreciation options are intended to stimulate struggling housing construction. To promote investments, so-called declining balance depreciation should be introduced. Special depreciation is to be substantially improved for small and medium-sized companies. Research and development by companies should also receive greater tax support.