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Minister of Family Affairs Paus, Minister of Finance Lindner

Photo: Lisi Niesner / REUTERS

It was the latest contentious issue within the traffic light coalition, now there is an agreement. After weeks of discussions, Family Minister Lisa Paus (Greens) and Finance Minister Christian Lindner (FDP) have agreed on the financing requirements for basic child benefits. For 2025, the costs are expected to initially amount to 2.4 billion euros, and they could rise in subsequent years.

At the Federal Press Conference, Paus was "satisfied" with the result. It is the "most comprehensive social policy reform" in years. As a result, up to 5.6 million families at risk of poverty and their children will receive benefits "faster, easier and more direct". At the same time, she acknowledged that she considered "an even bigger step in the fight against child poverty to be necessary".

Paus speaks of very tough negotiations

In the struggle for funding for her project, Paus first spoke of a need of 12 billion euros, but later reduced this to "two to seven billion euros".

"In some cases, it was really very tough negotiations," said Paus now with a view to the dispute within the traffic light, looking at Lindner, with whom she presented the project at the federal press conference. However, they were "constructive talks," Paus said.

Lindner teases Paus for cabinet blockade

Lindner, for his part, said that he had found the talks "above all constructive", at the same time he referred to the "complexity of the matter". When asked whether the project could now be finally decided by the cabinet after Pau's previous blockade, Lindner alluded to Paus' previous veto: "Only Ms. Paus can answer that."

However, he interpreted the agreement in such a way that a cabinet decision was now possible. Addressing Paus directly, he said: "Without you, it would have gone through last time." "There are no objections from me," Paus replied.

Lindner went on to say that the federal government would not be able to finance a major social reform for several years after the basic child benefit. He dares to predict "that the basic child benefit will be the last major social reform with a view to the next few years that still fits into the budget framework of the federal government," said Lindner.

Child Protection Association calls agreement "disappointing"

The Child Protection Association immediately criticized the plans that have now been presented. "What the German government is proposing is disappointing. This is not a basic child benefit," said the President of the Child Protection Association, Sabine Andresen. Although it is good that in the future the entitlement to a child allowance for working parents will be checked automatically, it is also to be welcomed that the difficult situation of single parents is being focused. "Beyond that, however, the concept remains discouraged and does not make the hoped-for contribution to combating child poverty," says Andresen.

The basic child benefit is "not the hoped-for big hit that will eliminate child poverty in Germany comprehensively and sustainably," said the President of the German Children's Fund, Thomas Krüger.

"The agreement of the traffic light has nothing to do with the reasonable and necessary idea of a basic child benefit," criticized Left Party parliamentary group leader Dietmar Bartsch. Finance Minister Lindner had prevailed "all along the line".

On the other hand, there was encouragement from Social Minister Hubertus Heil (SPD). At the joint press conference with Lindner and Paus, he spoke of a "major and important social reform". It is a "question of decency that every child gets the chance to make something out of his or her life," Heil said. German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock (Greens) was satisfied. "Finally, children who grow up in poverty are no longer treated as small adults and taken out of the Hartz system." Because the affected children were not looking for work, but wanted to go to school and sports like any other child.