Union kontert Deutschlandpakt mit einem Pakt für Leistung und Fleiß

WIs this a subtle criticism of the Chancellor? When Robert Habeck (Green Party) took the floor in the Bundestag on Thursday, he deliberately took his time before addressing the word that is currently being widely discussed. First, the Minister of Economy listed what he believes are the reasons for Germany’s „economic downturn.“

Julia Löhr

Wirtschaftskorrespondentin in Berlin.

The discontinuation of Russian gas and the changing perception of China as more than just a friendly trading partner are accompanied by structural issues. Then, it finally happened: „Let me briefly address the bureaucracy and the Germany Pact,“ Habeck began, only to quickly dismiss the topic: „We are already in the process of doing it.“

Mit Nordrhein-Westfalen arbeite man in „Praxischecks“ daran, Unternehmensgründungen einfacher zu machen, mit Baden-Württemberg am schnelleren Ausbau der erneuerbaren Energien. Auch wenn er sich weniger Selbstzufriedenheit wünschte: Den „Geist der Zusammenarbeit mit den Ländern und den Sozialpartnern“, den gebe es schon, zeigte sich Habeck überzeugt. Deutschland sei ein „hochinteressanter Standort“ für ausländische Investoren, das „defätistische Schlechtreden des Standorts Deutschland“ helfe nicht weiter.

„I cannot reword“

The previous day at the Chancellor’s, it had sounded slightly different. Although Olaf Scholz (SPD) also mentioned in his speech during the budget debate the „more than 80 billion euros“ that companies invest in Germany according to the Ministry of Economy’s list. However, Scholz also lamented a „stagnation of bureaucracy, risk aversion, and despondency“ that has spread across the country in recent years. His proposal, on the other hand, was the aforementioned „Germany Pact,“ a joint effort by states, municipalities, and the opposition to modernize the country. Specifically: to expedite approval processes, digitize administration, and support businesses.

Habeck has been trying for some time now to provide a positive outlook on the many bad economic news. However, on Thursday, new figures from the Federal Statistical Office got in his way, which turned out to be anything but good. According to the data, companies have reduced their production for the third consecutive month in July. The industry, construction, and energy providers together produced 0.8 percent less than the previous month. Economists had expected a smaller decline. LBBW analyst Jens-Oliver Niklasch spoke of a „persistent decline in the economy.“

Nach Habeck redete im Bundestag Jens Spahn (CDU), der für die Wirtschaft zuständige Fraktionsvize der Union. „Sie leben echt in einer anderen Welt, Herr Minister“, entgegnete er auf Habecks Lagebild. Das Einzige, was in Deutschland wachse, seien die Arbeitslosenzahlen und Insolvenzen. „Worüber reden wir eigentlich bei diesem Deutschlandpakt?“, fragte Spahn. Was der Kanzler am Mittwoch präsentiert habe, sei ein „Bonsai-Pakt, eine Auflistung von Projekten, bei denen Sie seit Monaten nicht vorankommen“.

He proposed three pacts: one for growth through lower taxes, especially on energy. A „pact for performance and diligence“ that limits social spending to 40 percent and reforms basic income. And finally, a pact „for secure borders and against illegal migration.“ Spahn concluded his list of demands with the words, „Finally, do your job.“ Frank Junge from the SPD faction, on the other hand, sided with Habeck: „I cannot identify a horror scenario as you might like,“ he said towards Spahn.

The employer’s president hopes for actions instead of announcements.

The associations were busy on Thursday analyzing the Chancellor’s latest creation of words. They were trying to understand how it differs from the ten-point plan that Scholz presented during the cabinet retreat in Meseberg. Employer President Rainer Dulger welcomed the promised modernization offensive. „With the announced Germany Pact, the federal government is finally waking up,“ he told the „Rheinische Post.“

Ankündigungen seien allerdings noch keine Taten. Die Digitalisierung müsse auf allen Ebenen konsequent umgesetzt werden. Der Städte- und Gemeindebund kritisierte dagegen, es gebe keine neuen Ansätze. „Man muss ehrlich sein, das ist alter Wein in neuen Schläuchen“, sagte Hauptgeschäftsführer Gerd Landsberg im WDR.

A first „practice check“ for the Germany Pact could take place at the end of September, when the federal government, states, and associations want to discuss solutions to the housing crisis in a construction summit. This will also involve the „Pact for Planning, Approval, and Implementation Acceleration,“ for which the federal government and states have already formally initiated discussions – over a year ago.