Economy minister Habeck seeks replacement for key energy transition official
Tagesspiegel Background / Bild / ARD / Table.Media / PV Magazine
Economy and climate minister Robert Habeck is seeking to quickly replace energy state secretary Patrick Graichen, whose exit following allegations of cronyism has reinvigorated a dispute over the heating law reform within the ruling government coalition. The ministry is already in talks to find a replacement and a decision can be expected within the coming days, wrote Nora Marie Zaremba in Tagesspiegel Background. Bild Zeitung reported that Klaus Müller, head of the Federal Network Agency (BNetzA) – Germany’s key energy regulator – is considered the most likely candidate. Several media reports said that other names including Kerstin Andreae, who heads energy industry association BDEW, and Green Party MP Ingrid Nestle, could be likely.
Habeck’s state secretary left his post on 17 May following weeks of cronyism allegations. The decision comes at a crucial time for the government’s energy transition plans, as law reforms like the de-facto ban of new oil and gas heaters are heatedly debated within the ruling coalition, by media and among the population. Aside from heating rules, other key projects by the government have yet to be implemented, such as a legislative package to speed up solar expansion, electricity subsidies for certain industries, tenders to support the building of new gas-fired power plants, or the construction of further LNG import infrastructure, wrote Malte Kreutzfeldt in Table.Media. “The fact that Habeck held on to Graichen for so long was also due to the fact that the state secretary was considered difficult to replace in the implementation of these projects,” added Kreutzfeldt.
While many politicians say that there is little connection between the allegations against Graichen and the criticism of the heating law proposal, opposition politicians and the governing Free Democrats (FDP) used the state secretary exit to demand a stop to or rethink of the plans. Graichen is often seen as the architect of the draft law. Ruling SPD general secretary Kevin Kühnert does not see a reason for delaying the reform, reported public broadcaster ARD. There would be no climate neutrality in Germany without tackling heating, and this necessity had not changed, he said. MP Carsten Linnemann from the conservative Christian Democrats (CDU) said economy minister Habeck should “stop the law completely” as it “disregards the reality,” wrote ARD. FDP general secretary Bijan Djir-Sarai told Bild Zeitung that there are many open questions and he thinks the law cannot pass parliament before the summer break. However, PV Magazine reported that several renewables associations called on lawmakers to ensure that it is passed by then, as its member companies trusted in the announced plans, which they say are “urgently necessary” both from a climate policy and an industry policy standpoint.