Germany: 2024 budget discussed in Parliament with special funds in the crosshairs

No more parliamentary recesses, the Bundestag meets this week to discuss the 2024 budget. Arms passes assured in the German parliament, as there is so much criticism around the massive use of special funds outside the budget in recent years.

The Bundestag discusses the budget and the thorny issue of special off-budget funds widely used by the German government. AP - Bernd von Jutrczenka

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These discussions around the 2024 budget, which began in the German parliament this week, should seal the end of spending to solve the health crisis and then the energy crisis. With a total budget of €446 billion, German ministers will spend €30 billion less next year than in 2023. For Christian Lindner, the liberal finance minister, 2024 will mark a kind of return to normal, analyzes our correspondent in Berlin, Nathalie Versieux.

According to the ministers, Germany must comply with the nails provided for in the constitution. The German Basic Law prohibits the state from borrowing more than 0.35% of its GDP each year. After three years of suspension during Covid, the government has decided to respect this rule again. But it won't be that simple, and that's where the criticism begins.

Special off-budget funds used in abundance

Because Berlin has become accustomed, with successive crises, to setting up parallel budgets financed by debt. In order to help companies, households, the German army or the climate transition. Two of these famous parallel budgets alone represent almost the volume of the 2024 budget. "The special funds threaten the rights of parliamentarians to decide on the budget, as well as the effectiveness of the debt brake rules," the German Court of Auditors said.

A budgetary sleight of hand authorized by the constitutional texts, as long as it responds to "particularly urgent", "defined" and "temporary" needs. However, these conditions are not always met, according to the Court of Auditors. In particular, she tackled the government's desire to include current spending by its army in the special fund of 100 billion euros, decided after the invasion of Ukraine to modernize its defense.


We use special funds for specific purposes "defended Finance Minister Christian Lindner on Tuesday before the Bundestag, while promising to "reduce their number" in the coming years. Since its arrival at the end of 2021, the coalition led by Olaf Scholz has also increased the resources of the "climate and transformation" fund, endowed with 211 billion euros between 2024 and 2027, against 177.5 for 2023-2026. This fund is dedicated to investments for the future, such as the decarbonisation of industry, the development and improvement of rail transport, the renovation of buildings and semiconductors.

Also listenToday the economy - In decline, Germany must review its economic model

(And with AFP)

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