Business associations criticize coalition agreement – companies

The title of the 178 pages that have roamed the boards of directors, lobbyists and associations across the country since Wednesday afternoon, sounds like a beautiful promise. “Dare to make more progress,” says page 1 of the coalition agreement. “Alliance for Freedom, Justice and Sustainability” is what the traffic light coalition calls the four-year reign timeline. The green leader Robert Habeck spoke during the presentation on Wednesday of a “document of courage”, the leader of the FDP Christian Lindner even attested to the future government “the most ambitious climate protection program of an industrial nation “.

Outside of the SPD, Greens and FDP negotiating forces, however, the deal triggers much more mixed feelings from the first day after it goes to press. Above all, the environmental associations would have liked this coalition to dare to make much more progress in converting traffic to more climate protection. Greenpeace criticizes the fact that Germany is not planning to do more than the EU has already planned. The document does not contain a fixed date for the end of the fossil combustion engine in Germany. “The current coalition agreement is not enough on its own to maintain the 1.5 degree limit,” fear the activists of “Fridays for Future” in a statement. Traffic lights remain “vague and lagging behind climate policy needs,” according to another large environmental organization.

The automotive industry welcomes the expected strong expansion of electromobility. But even the major players in car manufacturers consider the passages in the traffic chapter to be much more reluctant than the industry had hoped. VW had suggested, for example, that the preferential tax treatment of diesel would be lifted in early 2023 – according to environmentalists. In this way, the shift in traffic to more electric cars should be accelerated. But the future coalitionists did not want to go that far.

The praise of associations is much more sober than the self-praise of traffic light negotiators

The automotive lobby association VDA, whose boss Hildegard Müller, as confidant of outgoing Chancellor Angela Merkel, must fight for influence in the new government, praises an “ambitious program of transformation”. The new government’s “mega-task” is restructuring the infrastructure. “Germany needs to catch up and improve considerably in almost all areas,” demands Müller. The new government coalition has recognized this and formulated many projects, welcomes the association. However, it now depends on the implementation, such as the rapid expansion of the charging network for electric cars.

Even the praise of the country’s most important trade association, the Federal Association of German Industry (BDI), does not come close to the self-praise of negotiators. The new coalition has named the “right task”, said BDI chairman Siegfried Russwurm. However, the criticism is already starting in its wake. Because the coalition brings “only a few concrete solutions”. Instead, the coalition agreement offers “many vague statements of intent. The lion’s share of the work remains to be done here ”. Employers’ president Rainer Dulger also warns: Digitization, decarbonization and demographic change require answers and “great success,” Dulger said. “Unfortunately, this is not always recognizable in the coalition agreement.”

Apart from plans to increase living space, the coalition agreement is “insufficient”

Above all, the sharp rise in rents and house prices could become a subject of conflict between the future government and influential interest groups. The chapter on building and living sparked protests from all sides: the tenants’ association welcomed the plans for additional living space, but also called the coalition agreement “inadequate”. Apparently, the FDP clearly prevailed in tenancy law, President Lukas Siebenkotten said. This is not how you get effective tenant protection.

The real estate industry congratulates the coalition on the creation of an independent construction ministry and its plans to build apartments and simplify building permits and planning processes. However, the government faces headwinds in its plans to extend the rental price drag until 2029 and, in tight markets, lower the cap to eleven percent in three years. The Association of Central Real Estate Committee (ZIA) criticizes the fact that rents would be frozen even if landlords ran out of costs. Investors could therefore build fewer new buildings.

Professional associations harshly criticize the financial policy of the future coalition. The traffic light parties had agreed on the “most expensive common denominator,” said the director general of the Federal Association of SMEs, Markus Jerger. “The bill for this will be paid by businesses and citizens.” The various projects, such as the development of renewable energies, can only be financed by new loans without tax increases.

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