The Rhineland-Palatinate state parliament decided on Wednesday to set up a committee of inquiry to deal with the flood disaster in the Ahr valley.

The members of the CDU, Free Voters and AfD voted in favor of the CDU parliamentary group's proposal;

the government factions of the SPD, Greens and FDP abstained.

The investigation committee is supposed to investigate, among other things, the extent to which the state government and its subordinate authorities are responsible for the disaster. 

Julian Staib

Political correspondent for Hesse, Rhineland-Palatinate and Saarland based in Wiesbaden.

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In the flood in July, 134 people were killed in Rhineland-Palatinate and more than 760 were injured, although there had been precise warnings about the masses of water.

“Would it have been possible to save more lives?” Asked the deputy CDU parliamentary group leader Gordon Schnieder on Wednesday in the state parliament.

This should be clarified.

For this Schnieder asked for the approval of the factions of the traffic light coalition.

Unlike the AfD - whose own application was rejected on Wednesday - the CDU had initially not requested a committee of inquiry. 

Government factions criticize the proposal as imprecise

When dealing with the disaster, the role of the responsible district administrator of the Ahrweiler district Jürgen Pföhler (CDU) should also be in focus, against whom the public prosecutor's office is investigating on charges of negligent homicide and negligent bodily harm through negligence. The appointment of the committee was considered certain because the CDU parliamentary group fulfilled the necessary quorum of at least one fifth of the votes in parliament. 

Representatives of the government factions of the SPD, Greens and FDP justified their abstention from the vote on the CDU proposal on Wednesday by saying that it was formulated imprecisely. A clarification of the events is "important", said the SPD parliamentary group leader Sabine Bätzing-Lichtenthäler, those affected had "deserved a quick clarification". But the application for appointment is written in such a way that approval is not possible. It was "not clearly defined in terms of time" and in an "imprecise form", yes, it had "technical defects". Bätzing-Lichtenthäler promised that the SPD parliamentary group would “do everything possible to advance the work of the committee”. MEPs from the Greens and the FDP spoke almost word for word.

The government parliamentary groups recently set up a study commission, with the approval of all the other parliamentary groups, to deal with the disaster on the Ahr, but also to develop recommendations for sustainable reconstruction and measures against the consequences of climate change - but not until mid-2023. 

Furthermore, two bills on flood disaster should be discussed on Wednesday in the state parliament, which are to be passed on Thursday: On the one hand, a law to finance the reconstruction, according to which a special fund is to be set up for the around 15 billion euros that the federal and state governments post for the reconstruction made available to the floods in Rhineland-Palatinate. On the other hand, a "State Reconstruction Facilitation Act" is to be passed, with which a legal framework for rapid reconstruction is to be created. 

The state government is currently examining where new floodplains should be designated along the Ahr - and where houses may not be allowed to be rebuilt.

A decision should be made by the end of September.

From October onwards, those affected by damage should then be able to submit applications for the payment of the compensation money.