Enlarge image

Traffic light coalition committee in budget chaos: Finance Minister Christian Lindner (FDP) enters the Chancellery in the evening

Photo: Hannes P Albert / dpa

The meeting of the coalition leaders on the budget in the Berlin Chancellery ended in the evening after about an hour and a half, according to the dpa news agency from coalition circles. There had been a good political exchange. What all three partners had in common was that they wanted to find good solutions in the interests of citizens and businesses. However, no decisions had been expected during the deliberations.

It remained unclear to what extent the top representatives of the SPD, Greens and FDP had already dealt with concrete cuts or redeployments for the coming year as a result of the budget ruling of the Federal Constitutional Court.

Formally, the coalition committee had been scheduled for some time. The Federal Constitutional Court had previously prohibited the retrospective use of billions of euros in corona loans for climate protection and modernisation of the economy and to set aside emergency loans for later years. The coalition partners are divided over the consequences.

Lindner: The state is fully capable of acting

The German government is looking for ways out of the budget crisis. It must plug a hole of 2024 billion euros in the 17 federal budget. This sum was mentioned by Federal Finance Minister Christian Lindner (FDP) in the evening on ZDF shortly before the start of consultations of the coalition leaders. A decision must now be made quickly and carefully, according to Lindner. "But the state is fully capable of acting." It must be achieved that the state is more "accurate" with the money it has.

Before the meeting, Chancellor Olaf Scholz (SPD) had expressed optimism that future investments would be possible despite the budget crisis. "Yes, we will continue to invest in the future," he assured. Germany must dare to do so, not least because other countries such as the USA and China work with high subsidies.

Despite differing positions, the coalition is still aiming to adopt the budget for 2024 before the end of the year, if possible. "It would be nice if the goal would be, it would be wonderful to make it this year," said government spokesman Steffen Hebestreit in Berlin. There is a desire among all three coalition partners for an early conclusion.

However, decisions must be made on core concerns of all three traffic light parties. Lindner has therefore already prepared his colleagues for "considerable efforts".

Exceptions to the debt brake are possible in the event of natural disasters or exceptional emergency situations. This has been used in recent years, for example because of the corona pandemic and the consequences of the Russian war of aggression against Ukraine. The FDP currently sees no basis for a new emergency resolution.

Immediately after the Karlsruhe ruling, a debate flared up about the future of the debt brake. Many politicians from the SPD and the Greens are calling for a reform so that the state can borrow more for important investments. However, there is not much time left for a budget decision before the end of this year – which would be normal.