Germany should be more Chinese – at least a bit

"The point is that the economic area of Europe should be at least able to compete with China and the US," said Carsten Linnemann, parliamentary group vice chairman in the Bundestag and head of the CDU/CSU's Medium-Sized Businesses Association (MIT). EPA-EFE/YUAN ZHENG CHINA OUT [YUAN ZHENG/EPA]

While China has shown it needs a few days to build a hospital, infrastructure projects in Germany are making no progress. But politicians from the conservative Christian Democratic Union (CDU) now want to change this. EURACTIV’s partner WirtschaftsWoche reports.

The leading economic and transport politicians from the CDU and the Christian Social Union (CSU), together known as the Union, want to use the German EU Council Presidency in the second half of this year to enable faster construction and planning.

Specifically, they are calling for a reform of the law that allows associations, such as environmental associations, in particular, to take legal action to enforce their objections to construction projects.

“The EU’s Green Deal will only succeed if, for example, our rail network and cycle paths can be expanded more quickly,” North Rhine-Westphalia’s Transport Minister Hendrik Wüst told WirtschaftsWoche. He added that compensation for encroachments on the rights of those affected and on the environment must, therefore, be sped up.

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The Bundestag has recently passed two laws to simplify approval and planning procedures,  but the Federation for the Environment and Nature Conservation (BUND) already declared that the laws were illegal.

“The law considerably restricts citizens and environmental associations in their ability to take action against legal infringements, for example, concerning species protection regulations,” said the association. Such a restriction of rights is a severe violation of the Aarhus Convention, which guarantees such possibilities of legal action.

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It is precisely this Aarhus Convention of 1998 that the CDU politicians now want to revise. “The point is that the economic area of Europe should be at least able to compete with China and the US,” said Carsten Linnemann, parliamentary group vice chairman in the Bundestag and head of the CDU/CSU’s Medium-Sized Businesses Association (MIT).

If China builds a hospital with 1,500 beds in a week and Germany cannot even complete the planning for similar projects in a year, then this shows “that we have to get there quickly”.

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In addition to Wüst and Linnemann, the Hamburg member of the Bundestag and transport politician Christoph Ploß is also campaigning to make the issue a priority of the German EU Council Presidency.

“Following the successful resolutions in the Bundestag, it is now important to restrict the right of associations to bring legal action and, together with the other European partners, to accelerate the planning of infrastructure projects,” according to Ploß. Germany takes over the EU presidency from July to December 2020.

[Edited by Zoran Radosavljevic]

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