27 Jan 2023, 13:08
Carolina Kyllmann

German government coalition fails to agree on transport policy

Handelsblatt / Süddeutsche Zeitung

No agreement was reached at a meeting by the German government coalition leadership convened to settle disputes over climate protection and the construction of new motorways, newswire DPA reports in an article carried by Handelsblatt. The government coalition partners – the Social Democrats (SPD), the pro-business FDP and the Green Party – had aimed to agree on infrastructure that should be identified as “of overriding public interest” to speed up approval procedures and facilitate its expansion, but the meeting on 26 January yielded no significant results. The Green Party believes this priority should be limited to the expansion of renewable energy and power lines – as is currently the case – but the FDP wants new motorways to be planned with the same speed. Chancellor Olaf Scholz could not bring the debate to conclusion, but “constructive talks on the topics of transport and climate protection” were held, the parties told DPA in a statement. Negotiations will continue in the coming weeks.

The coalition meeting was intended to unblock a reform backlog, which besides the acceleration of planning procedures includes a proposal to phase out the use of biofuels and to introduce an emergency climate action programme to define how the country intends to achieve its climate goals, in particular in the transport sector. The latter was a key element of the coalition agreement, and was initially expected before the end of 2022. Yet, without an agreement on the acceleration of planning procedures for motorways, there is no solution for climate protection either, writes Michael Bauchmüller in Süddeutsche Zeitung. The delay on an agreement has been criticised by environmental organisation Nature and Biodiversity Conservation Union (NABU), which said that “it is absolutely clear that more road construction would lead to an acceleration of the biodiversity and climate crisis.” NABU head Jörg-Andreas Krüger said the transport ministry, headed by the FDP, should focus on the renovation of roads and bridges instead.

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