Federal government: heating law: dispute in coalition after Graichen withdrawal

federal government
Heating law: dispute in coalition after Graichen withdrawal

Federal Minister of Economics Robert Habeck (Greens) wants to pass the Building Energy Act before the parliamentary summer break

Federal Economics Minister Robert Habeck (Greens) wants to pass the Building Energy Act before the parliamentary summer recess. photo

© Christophe Gateau/dpa

With the departure of the state secretary, the FDP is also questioning the schedule for the heating law – to the displeasure of the traffic light partners. Meanwhile, the opposition sees a need for clarification on Habeck’s personnel policy.

The announced departure of Secretary of State for Economic Affairs Patrick Graichen has triggered a debate in the coalition about the schedule for the controversial Building Energy Act (GEG). The FDP is in favor of extending the timetable for the project, also known as the Heating Act, on the grounds that Parliament has lost a contact person for the topic. The SPD and the Greens see no connection between the two issues.

Economics Minister Robert Habeck (Greens) yesterday announced the resignation of his State Secretary Graichen after he had not sufficiently separated private and professional life in two understandable cases. Graichen played a central role in the energy transition. Habeck is aiming for the law to be passed before the parliamentary summer recess, which begins on July 7.

“Around 100 questions for Robert Habeck”

“I think it’s out of the question to say goodbye before the summer break,” FDP General Secretary Bijan Djir-Sarai told the “Bild” newspaper. “It doesn’t matter when the GEG is passed. What matters is that it becomes a good law that doesn’t overwhelm anyone and enables many technologies,” emphasized Djir-Sarai. He announced a catalog of questions from his group to Habeck. “The FDP parliamentary group still has around 100 questions for Robert Habeck. As long as these have not been answered, deliberations on the law cannot even begin,” said the FDP general secretary.

According to the draft adopted by the Federal Cabinet, from 2024 onwards every newly installed heating system should be operated with 65 percent renewable energy. This should apply to all owners under 80 years of age. Existing oil and gas heaters can continue to be operated, broken heaters can be repaired. The law is intended to herald the departure from gas and oil heating systems.

Traffic light partner frustrated

The SPD and the Greens are resisting the FDP’s demand to delay the schedule. SPD General Secretary Kevin Kühnert said in the ZDF “heute journal” with regard to Graichen’s departure: “The two issues have nothing to do with each other.” There is no climate neutrality in Germany without addressing the type of heating. Nothing has changed in this need.

Green parliamentary group leader Katharina Dröge sees it the same way. If the FDP announces a delay, it is because they want to postpone something, said Dröge last night on the ARD program “Maischberger”. Many employees of two ministries were involved in the law. In addition, parliaments could write and edit laws themselves.

Opposition moves Habeck into focus

Left faction leader Amira Mohamed Ali sees Minister Habeck “severely damaged” by Graichen’s mistakes. “Depending on what is still being brought to light, his whereabouts in office must also be questioned,” she told the “Rheinische Post”. “The investigation must continue.”

The Union also sees a need for clarification. The Economics Committee of the Bundestag wants to deal with further open questions on the policy of the Ministry of Economics next Wednesday. This emerges from the agenda that is available to the German Press Agency.

The committee should first decide in the morning whether there will be a joint meeting with the Committee on Climate Protection and Energy and a public meeting at noon. The CDU/CSU parliamentary group had requested both. According to the agenda, the topic should be “Further processing of the appointment of the CEO of dena as well as current reporting on possible compliance violations and on the personnel policy of the Federal Ministry of Economics and Climate Protection”.

Other conflicts of interest?

The Economics Committee is also expecting a report from the ministry on media reports on “possible conflicts of interest at the management level of the BMWK in industrial policy, foreign trade policy, digital and innovation policy and here in particular in start-up funding”.

State Secretary Udo Philipp is responsible for these areas. According to a report by Business Insider, Philipp has invested private money in several startups, which raises questions from the opposition given his position in the ministry.

The ministry explained that Philipp had disclosed his financial situation in accordance with the code of conduct when he took office, that his shares were managed by third parties and that he had no influence on individual transactions. Before taking office, he supported small companies as a “business angel”. He has not been active there since taking office as State Secretary in the Schleswig-Holstein Ministry of Finance in March 2019.

“Due to the illiquidity of the company’s shares, it is not possible to sell the shares,” the ministry said. As a precaution, however, it is regulated that Philipp does not make any decisions from which these companies could benefit financially. According to the ministry, the promotion of business start-ups and financial aid in the growth phase are the responsibility of the department of State Secretary Sven Giegold (Greens).


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