Scuffle in the traffic light government goes into the next round

The federal government has passed its heating law. But the FDP already wants nothing more to do with it.

In fact, they might be happy. The federal cabinet passed the heating law on Wednesday, and the funding modalities have also been determined. It’s a big compromise, of course, but one that reflects the ideas of all traffic light partners. And above all, it is a decision. Met by all ministers, unanimously, including the Federal Chancellor.

With the so-called Building Energy Act, this is news in itself. And a success. Because for weeks there was actually no need for any opposition in the heating debate to cause a great deal of trouble. The coalition partners did it all by themselves. The FDP spoke of a “scrapping orgy” in the meantime. Even the eloquent CSU boss Markus Söder had difficulties to top it off.

And all this despite the fact that the traffic light had already agreed three times that they wanted to do it this way: to ban the installation of new gas and oil heating systems, starting next year. Even so, the debate was often more brawl than duel, in which the hardest blow counted more than the hardest facts.

Now the law and the funding are in place. And actually, now only the Bundestag and Bundesrat would have to discuss it, change a few small details, close the last gaps – and that’s it. Everyday life in parliament, important but often trouble-free. Normally. But nothing is everyday with the heating law. The scuffle continues.

Habeck speaks of “consumer protection”

Building Minister Klara Geywitz (SPD) and Climate Minister Robert Habeck (Greens) tried to be optimistic on Wednesday. When they stepped in front of the federal press conference at noon, they dutifully smiled at the cameras. Geywitz emphasized that it was agreed to be finished in April, “and we stuck to it”.

600,000 new gas heaters were installed this year, she said. But that should be the end of next year. In order to meet the climate goals, on the one hand, the heating systems are lagging behind in an international comparison anyway, added Habeck. But above all, so that people don’t get alarmed when gas prices rise sharply. The law is primarily “consumer protection”.

Christian Lindner (archive photo): The FDP politician has been party chairman since 2013.
Christian Lindner: “Necessary changes.” (Quelle: Chris Emil Janssen/imago images)

It was already clear that this was not the case before Geywitz and Habeck could even appear before the press. Shortly before the start, Finance Minister and FDP leader Christian Lindner made it clear that the Liberals would not be satisfied with minor changes to the details of the law. No parliamentary everyday life, nowhere. But new heating dispute normality.

“I expect that the necessary changes will now be made in the parliamentary process in order to eliminate concerns about financing and feasibility and to burden people as little as possible,” wrote Lindner on Twitter. So the finance minister had voted in the federal cabinet in the morning for a law that he no longer wanted by midday.

An angry factual memo

However, Lindner had taken precautions. As soon as the bill was leaked, there were signs of trouble. Lindner’s Ministry of Finance had appended a note to the record. During the Corona crisis, these notes had become the federal states’ favorite means of venting their anger at the decisions of the prime ministers’ conferences. Lindner may have thought: why not try it on a draft law?

The Ministry of Finance, according to the note, agrees to the law “in the knowledge that the parliamentary groups of the German Bundestag will discuss this bill intensively in the parliamentary process and will also make other necessary changes”. One must “ensure that a practical and affordable implementation of the principle of openness to technology takes place”.

Berlin: FDP Secretary General Djir-Sarai at a press conference.Berlin: FDP Secretary General Djir-Sarai at a press conference.
FDP General Secretary Bijan Djir-Sarai: “It won’t happen like that.” (Quelle: IMAGO/Christian Spicker)

FDP General Secretary Bijan Djir-Sarai then formulated it in “Spiegel” without paper clip prose: The law is “not practical and will not come to pass”. It could hardly be clearer.


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