Germany’s parliament will debate the new government’s supplementary budget on Thursday, with the discussion expected to focus on whether money earmarked to fight the pandemic could be used to help the climate instead.
Finance Minister Christian Lindner wants to reallocate the 60 billion euros ($67.8 billion) in investments in climate protection and digitalization approved as loans this year, but it is not necessary. It will be kept in the Climate and Transition Fund for use in the coming years.
The federal government does not take on any new debt as a result of the reallocation, however, the opposition views the move as constitutionally questionable because the funds approved to fight the pandemic will be used for climate protection and other projects instead.
The finance ministry says the pandemic has made many investments in climate protection impossible, which must now be compensated, and the opposition wants the move to be referred to Germany’s constitutional court.
The restructuring is significant because Lindner has promised to comply with the debt break from 2023 onwards, in which very few new loans can be obtained, and possibly very little to fund the alliance’s massive new projects to address environmental damage and digital inefficiencies.
Speaking before the Bundestag debate, Helge Braun, of the opposition Christian Democrats, was also highly critical of the supplementary budget, calling it “a very fundamental break with Germany’s current budget solidity”.