Chancellor Olaf Scholz (SPD) defended his policy in the Bundestag. The head of government countered criticism from the Union faction leader Friedrich Merz with unusually clear words.
Chancellor Olaf Scholz has attacked the opposition leader Friedrich Merz in the Bundestag with unusual sharpness. Merz will not get away with always asking questions and never taking a correct position on something, said the SPD politician on Wednesday in his response to the CDU leader’s speech in the budget debate. “They danced through the whole thing here and didn’t say anything specific.” And if Merz takes a position on something, then “it gets embarrassing,” said Scholz.
In terms of content, the Chancellor criticized that Merz had proposed a soli, i.e. a tax increase for almost all citizens, in order to pay for the better equipment of the Bundeswehr. “What a strange idea,” said Scholz.
He also emphasized that the bad times for the Bundeswehr began with the former Union Defense Minister Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg, who slashed a lot of money. Merz didn’t mention that at all. “Sometimes technical work is really useful, Mr. Merz,” emphasized Scholz.
Merz accuses Scholz of a lack of support from Ukraine
The opposition leader had previously accused the Chancellor of Ukraine’s lack of support in defending against the Russian war of aggression. More than a month after a corresponding decision by the Bundestag, promised heavy weapons had not been delivered, said Merz. If you ask around in the European Union, there is now only resentment, disappointment and “really annoyed” about Germany’s role.
The CDU leader said to Scholz: “You’ve been talking a little more than usual lately, but you’re still saying nothing.” He criticized Scholz for formulating that Russia must not win the war instead of simply saying: “Ukraine must win this war.” The chancellor is on the phone with Russian President Vladimir Putin, but has no appointment for a meeting with the Ukrainian speaker of the parliament, who is coming to Berlin.
Merz accused the chancellor of not having made any concrete decisions after his determination that Russia’s war of aggression had turned the tide. “There’s nothing you seriously associate with that word ‘turning point’ other than new debt.” The Union faction leader called on Scholz to take a clear position on whether Ukraine and neighboring Moldova should be given candidate status for accession to the European Union.
Chancellor Scholz was again cautious about Germany’s foreign policy goals in the Ukraine war. The goal of the federal government is that Russian President Vladimir Putin “does not win” the war of aggression he started against Ukraine, he said in the budget debate. “Our goal is that Ukraine can defend itself and be successful,” he added. Addressing the opposition leader, Scholz said: “But I want to say explicitly that it is arrogant and inappropriate and completely out of place when there is a discussion in this country about what Ukraine should rightly decide.”
Scholz: Create energy independence and climate protection together
According to Chancellor Scholz, Germany will manage both the detachment from Russian energy supplies and significantly more climate protection. “We want to achieve energy independence as quickly as possible,” he said in the general debate. That is a goal for Europe and also applies to the Federal Republic.
“We know that is very, very urgent these days in view of the Russian attack. And we want to achieve complete CO2 neutrality by 2045,” said Scholz. “It can be done. Both belong together, they are not mutually exclusive, and we will achieve both.” CO2 neutrality means that all greenhouse gases must be avoided or stored in order to protect the climate. It is crucial to ensure the security of energy supply at all times, explained Scholz. “Energy must always be available – 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.”
Scholz also pointed to plans for a massively accelerated expansion of renewable energies. In addition to the so-called Easter package that has already been passed, two more bundles of legislative proposals are to follow in the summer and autumn. The duration of administrative procedures is at least halved, said Scholz with reference to the planning of energy projects. “We will not let the lobbyists, the skeptics or the defenders of the status quo buy our guts, ladies and gentlemen.” Scholz said: “This year is the year of decisions and the decisions will be made.”
In addition, he rejected allegations that pensioners were being neglected in the relief measures against high energy prices. “By the way, pensioners also benefit from the relief packages, electricity bills, the tank discount and the 9-euro ticket,” said the Chancellor. In addition, pensions on July 1 rose more than they had in decades. The pension level will not fall below 48 percent in the future either. “This is an important achievement by this government,” said Scholz.
There had previously been criticism because an energy price flat rate of 300 euros should only be paid to employed persons who are subject to income tax. Pensioners, students and trainees therefore went away empty-handed.