Guessing game about Merkel’s future

There is growing speculation surrounding the German Chancellor’s departure. [Drop of Light/ Shutterstock]

There is growing speculation about the German Chancellor’s possible farewell. Meanwhile, the question of the carbon tax is being hotly debated. EURACTIV’s media partner Der Tagesspiegel reports.

In exactly one month, on 30 May, Angela Merkel is set to give her ‘commencement speech’ before a group of Harvard graduates, the US elite. It is already being regarded as her big farewell speech.

But insiders of the headquarters of the Christian Democrats (CDU), the Konrad-Adenauer-Haus, warn against keeping too many secrets from the CDU leadership at a post-election meeting with party boss Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer on 2-3 June.

If you, however, ask around, you continue to hear speculations. In the event that the European elections on 26 May do not go well, the coalition between CDU/CSU and SPD could face a situation that is difficult to control.

Purely from a constitutional standpoint, changing the Chancellor is not a trivial exercise – and the SPD has firmly stated that Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer will not be elected. A new snap election could take place sooner than expected.

But in recent time, the coalition has actually been taking important steps.

€15 billion less 

Germany’s tax revenues are losing their footing. That is making the situation even more delicate for the coalition.

The 155th meeting of the Working Group on Tax Estimates in Kiel on 7-9 May will likely reach grim conclusions for the first time in years. Depending on the estimate, there is talk of €15 billion less in taxes compared to the last estimate, and that’s per year.

This will likely trigger distribution conflicts – meaning the basic pension will be reduced and rail tickets will not benefit from VAT reduction despite this being part of Transport Minister Andreas Scheuer’s climate protection plan.

Let’s see whether the extra income and corporate tax burden will be scrapped (Soli-Aus campaign) or whether at least 90% of the current payers will continue to contribute.

And if the economy continues to weaken, there will be less money available to help companies with tax relief.

Heated discussion about CO2 tax

One could say that the celebration is over, as the coalition does not have much money left to spend.

Now the question of a carbon tax is being hotly debated, and many citizens fear that they will bear the brunt by having to pay higher fuel prices and rents (in case owners of poorly insulated apartments are to pay the CO2 tax) and the CO2 tax would plug the holes. But the CDU/CSU Union stresses: There will be no tax increases.

Will there be a minimum price on carbon in Germany? And how?

In Germany, calls for introducing a CO2 emission tax are getting louder. Yet, the German government continues to be divided on the matter with the French ‘gilet jaunes’ appearing to be quite the deterrent. What would a socially acceptable price of CO2 look like? EURACTIV Germany reports.

But ‘business as usual’ is not a solution either.

Johan Rockström (53), co-director of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, calculated that up to 70 litres of oil are consumed just for one steak, “because rainforests are being cleared to grow animal feed such as soy. To that we also add the use of fertiliser, tractors, ploughs, trucks and planes for transport and plastic for packaging.”

His advice for a climate-friendly daily diet: 50 grams of nuts, 75 grams of legumes, 28 grams of fish, 14 grams of red meat, 29 grams of chicken, 250 grams of dairy products, 232 grams of cereals and 500 grams of fruit and vegetables.

Early cabinet meeting

Merkel and her cabinet cannot be accused of wasting much time speculating about the coalition’s future. The cabinet meeting was even moved forward to today because of Labour Day on Wednesday (1 May).

A look at the confidential agenda of the 50th cabinet meeting tells us that, with fourteen items on the agenda, it is governing strongly:

From the “draft of a law to restructure the Customs Investigation Service Act” to the reform of psychotherapist training and a tourism strategy to the “twenty-fifth ordinance to adjust the assessment amount and cash benefits under the Federal Supply Act”.

The last item on the agenda is the German government’s draft response to a request from far-right AfD party’s question on “de facto taxation and cash devaluation”.

[Edited by Zoran Radosavljevic]

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