The traffic light government is arguing about conclusions from the budget ruling of the Federal Constitutional Court. Economy Minister Robert Habeck attacks ideas of Finance Minister Christian Lindner (FDP). The statement that climate protection and the restructuring of industry can be made possible with fewer subsidies is easy to say, Habeck criticized on Deutschlandfunk. "Half the world is subsidizing this very process."

The competition is intense. "That's why it's all just talk for now. The reality is different." Considerations from the FDP to cut the social budget are also a sign of helplessness. "Where do you want to cut 60 billion euros in social benefits? This dramatically misses the drama of the situation." Habeck said it was not his proposal to completely abolish the debt brake of the federal budget. However, it has shortcomings: "It is inflexible." But he knows that compliance is agreed in the coalition agreement. "Then you have to somehow scrape together funds and reallocate them."

Asked whether the debt brake could be suspended by declaring an emergency, Habeck said: "I can only refer to the economic data and say that the year 23 was a year with three quarters, for the first time with three quarters without growth. We haven't had that for a long time, basically never in the history of the Republic." He referred to the Ukraine war, inflation, high energy prices and the consequences of the Corona pandemic. However, he did not want to speculate whether this path would be taken.

Esken wants to suspend debt brake

Increasing the CO2 levy more than planned at the turn of the year also has its downsides: "We still have inflation, which of course makes products more expensive." One could say that this would help climate protection. But if you want to achieve this solely through the levy on CO2 emissions for fuel, gas or heating oil, you will have to drive up the costs rapidly. "Of course it would do something, but you can't fill a gap of 60 billion without driving prices so high that a lot of people would lose trust in politics."

Other Green politicians also spoke out in favour of changes to the debt brake. SPD party leader Saskia Esken had even pleaded for the debt brake not to be applied in 2023 and 2024. The FDP, on the other hand, does not want to touch the debt brake and instead wants to put social benefits to the test – they have also once again opposed tax increases. SPD leader Lars Klingbeil warned against a halt to modernization in Germany.

In its ruling on Wednesday, the Federal Constitutional Court in Karlsruhe had prohibited the retroactive realisation of Corona loans for climate protection and the modernisation of industry. As a result, 60 billion euros are missing from the so-called Climate and Transformation Fund, a special fund that is economically separate from the core budget. The big question is how the traffic light coalition will plug this financial hole.