Germany, what the Scholz government will do on energy and beyond

Germany, what the Scholz government will do on energy and beyond

Facts and scenarios about the next Scholz government in Germany. The speech by Gianni Bessi, regional councilor of the Democratic Party in Emilia-Romagna and author of Post-Merkel. A void that only Europe can fill (goWare, 2021)

The new German government has not yet been officially born, although the most important box, that of prime minister, is firmly occupied by Olaf Scholz, who at this point can be without fear of denial called Angela Merkel's successor. Moreover, it was the Chancellor herself who initiated the passage, officially presenting it to the meetings among the 'great' of the earth. Of course now, given the worsening of the health situation caused by the pandemic, the birth of the new so-called 'semaphore' executive – that is, made up of an unprecedented alliance between Social Democrats, Greens and Liberals – has accelerated: yesterday the agreement between the three forces that compose it, Spd, Fdp and Grüne. Now the swearing-in of the new chancellor is expected, which should take place in the week starting December 6.

Scholz closed the negotiation with the direct involvement of the leaders of the unprecedented coalition, the key roles: in particular, the Greens couple Robert Habeck and Annalena Baerbock. The first will be vice-chancellor and minister of a 'strengthened' Department of the Environment, along the lines of our Mite, the second foreign minister.

As far as the finance department is concerned, only the name of the liberal Christian Lindner continues to be on the table, on whom perplexities and firm defenses clashed. And given that the agreement still has to be approved by the bodies of the three parties, the incessant whispering behind the scenes of politics continues, which keeps alive hypotheses of old scenarios and options not yet explored. Because in politics nothing is ever taken for granted, not even in Germany.

But let's go in order and retrace some significant passages of the last few weeks. I do this by taking a cue from an article by economists Joseph Stiglitz and Adam Tooze, who define Lindner as unsuitable for holding the position of finance minister because financial policy was the central theme of the liberals' election campaign. And Europe right now does not need a conservative and restrictive budget policy, in practice an austerity policy, because it would be a clear break with the previous German financial policy, embodied by Olaf Scholz and in any case dictated by Angela Merkel, former supporter of the Recovery fund and related actions. Today we know that the hypothesis of Stiglitz and Tooze will not come true, given the composition of the new executive, but it had its reason and its charm also because in the opinion of the two economists Lindner would be perfect as a minister for digital technology. The reason is that «FDP represents an important slice of the German electoral, especially the younger ones.

In fact, it interprets a political energy open to high-tech, modernization, liberalization and entrepreneurship ». Instead they would have seen with pleasure in the finances a member of the Greens: as the second party of the coalition they are the real novelty of the last elections and their young and popular leaders. The Ministry of Finance is in fact the most important cabinet in the Federal State considering that foreign policy, the other 'heavy' ministry, is in fact managed by the Chancellor, also due to its role within the intergovernmental model of the European Council . For the Greens, controlling the federal budget would above all mean directing the new environmental policy of the federal republic: in essence, it is not the ideas but the money that will be able to realize the ecological transition, as we know well in Italy too.

However, the theorem remains valid that any position of government the Greens will be able to keep the point on some choices that go in the direction of decarbonization, such as the definitive exit from coal as a fossil source, although this year the coal plants we have overtaken wind farms as energy producers in Germany. On the other hand, as a ruling party they will have to give in to some compromises and lower some banner of their economic program. After all, it is not a new step for them: they have already taken it on the occasion of their experience in the Schröder government when their historical leader Fisher put aside important points of the program such as the exit from NATO and pacifist extremism. Today, to give things a name, it would be a matter of accepting the presence of natural gas in the European taxonomy and renouncing the introduction of a fixed tax of 60 euros per tonne of CO2 produced, which scares the Mittelstand, the powerful system of small companies. and medium-sized enterprises. And this goes beyond any announcement because German pragmatism is slowly shaping these choices.

Let's not forget that the exit from nuclear and coal requires several steps, some of which, such as the construction of the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline , have already been (almost) completed while others, such as the 8 billion euros to finance 62 new projects on hydrogen, are being implemented.

Returning to the whispers of politics, destined to remain a background noise until Scholz's oath, there is a shadow that would materialize if the agreement fails and the 'traffic light' coalition falters: the inevitable plan B would be the revival of the current Grosse koalition.

If this were the case, the identikit of the new finance minister is easy to define: an economist who is liked by the Social Democrat Scholz and has the attribute of having been chosen for important positions by Angela Merkel. The name is obviously that of Jens Weidmann, the former president of the Bundesbank who – some might comment 'conveniently' – resigned just before the formation of the new German government. In this case, financial support for the ecological transition, in the wake of the policy of the Merkel-Scholz duo, would be ensured and, probably, the great industrial yunkers, the Mittelstand and the trade unions, always willing to move in the wake of 'German syncretism', would be satisfied. An element of German history and political culture that played a role in finding the square for the traffic light coalition presented yesterday at a press conference by the three leaders.

This is a machine translation from Italian language of a post published on Start Magazine at the URL on Thu, 25 Nov 2021 09:31:40 +0000.