Energy crisis: Lindner against new EU debt fund

As of: 10/04/2022 14:33 hrs

With its package to alleviate the energy crisis, Germany has been criticized in the EU. There are calls for a jointly funded emergency aid program. Federal Treasury Secretary Lindner rejected it, however.

Federal Finance Minister Christian Lindner (FDP) has rejected calls from the EU commission to launch a new debt-funded emergency aid program in Europe in the energy crisis. The EU cannot transfer the instruments of the corona pandemic “one-on-one” to the current situation, Lindner said on the sidelines of the meeting of EU finance ministers in Luxembourg.

In the Corona crisis, the EU has set up a reconstruction fund of 750 billion euros. It is financed by community debt contracted by the European Commission.

EU commissioners fear ‘subsidy race’

Lindner responded to an action by EU Commissioners for Economic Affairs and the Internal Market, Paolo Gentiloni and Thierry Breton. They had advertised similar debt-based “European instruments” in the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung and other European newspapers. Gentiloni and Breton justify this with the German gas price brake, which could trigger a “subsidy race” in Europe.

Germany has previously received much criticism from other EU countries and also from the Commission for its €200 billion defense shield, which is intended to protect households and businesses against high energy prices.

In particular, concerns are expressed that Germany is supporting its businesses on a scale that smaller countries cannot compete with. Countries such as Italy, Spain or France are therefore calling for joint measures – there is also talk of a European gas price ceiling, which the federal government has been skeptical about until now.

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban said: “In the energy crisis, Germany can help its own companies with hundreds of billions of euros.” Poorer countries could not. “This is the beginning of cannibalism in the EU,” Orban said. Brussels must act, “because that destroys European unity.”

Lindner is open to joint gas purchases

Lindner was open to alternative EU instruments. “We need to make progress in gas joint procurement, we need to change the design of the electricity market,” he said. EU Heads of State or Government will discuss this at an informal summit in Prague.

The EU countries had already agreed to joint gas purchases in March, but a joint coordination platform has not yet provided much concrete information.

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