The traffic light coalition wants to leave the constant quarrels behind and work better together in the future. Chancellor Olaf Scholz (SPD) said after a cabinet meeting in Schloss Meseberg that his government had been productive in recent weeks and had made many decisions. However, the intention was to work more “quietly” in the future. They will continue to “hammer and knock, but with a silencer”. Finance Minister Christian Lindner (FDP) had previously justified the dissonance in the coalition with the sentence: “We are a government where hammering and screwing is done.” That leads to “noises”, but “something comes out”.
Most recently, there had been a dispute in the government about basic child security, and there had also been a bitter struggle over the heating law. According to a survey by the opinion research institute Forsa published on Wednesday, the growth of the AfD in the polls is largely due to displeasure with the federal government. “Doubt creates fear and fear creates fear – and then populism ramps up,” said Economics Minister Robert Habeck (Greens).
The government was also unable to resolve the dispute over the industrial electricity price during its retreat – Habeck advocates a state-subsidized price, Lindner rejects it, and the Chancellor also avoided setting it in Meseberg. Instead, the cabinet was able to agree on a surprisingly large number of other projects.
The law on reducing bureaucracy is intended to relieve companies and citizens
The government approved the Growth Opportunities Act previously blocked by Family Minister Lisa Paus (Greens). It provides relief for the economy in the billions. Part of the law are, among other things, new depreciation rules for residential buildings, which are intended to boost the construction industry. In addition, companies should be able to offset losses more extensively for tax purposes. And there is a premium for investments in climate protection.
The cabinet also decided on the cornerstones of a law to reduce bureaucracy. This is intended to free companies and citizens from unnecessary rules. Among other things, the commercial and tax law retention periods for accounting documents are to be reduced from ten to eight years. In the future, hotels should no longer have to fill out a registration form for each individual guest. “Many companies in Germany are suffering from bureaucratic burnout,” said Justice Minister Marco Buschmann (FDP) when the plan was presented. The changes now planned would bring a relief of 2.3 billion euros per year.
In Meseberg, the cabinet also approved drafts for a “law to accelerate the digitization of the healthcare system” and for a “health data usage law”. The government wants electronic prescriptions and digital patient records to finally prevail. E-prescriptions are now to become the standard by early 2024 and mandatory for practices. At the beginning of 2025, all those with statutory health insurance should receive electronic patient files. The objection solution applies: anyone who does not expressly object will receive such a file. This should make it easier to access X-rays, doctor’s letters, medication plans, vaccination cards and the like. Health Minister Karl Lauterbach (SPD) assumes that more than 80 percent of citizens will use the e-file. In Meseberg, the cabinet also decided to facilitate the use of combined health data in research.
The federal government is also in favor of classifying Georgia and Moldova as “safe countries of origin”. This should speed up asylum procedures for Georgians and Moldovans. Rejected asylum seekers from these two countries could then also be deported more easily. In Georgia and Moldova, “People are generally not threatened by political persecution,” said Interior Minister Nancy Faeser (SPD). Currently, “more than every tenth rejected asylum application” comes from the two countries. “Here we can effectively reduce irregular migration very quickly.”
The Federal Government’s plans now have to be approved by the Bundestag. Some – such as the Growth Opportunities Act or the extension of the list of safe countries of origin – also have to be approved by the Bundesrat. There could be significant difficulties with this. Many decisions by the federal government do not go far enough for the Union. The CDU and CSU are involved in nine of the 16 state governments. These nine countries have 43 of the 69 votes in the Bundesrat. However, there is also resistance from the left camp when it comes to the Growth Opportunities Act. Bremen, which is governed by the red-red-green government, has already announced that it will not approve the law in its current form.