German leaders announce new plan to fight inflation and energy

BERLIN (AP) — Germany will invest an additional 65 billion euros (dollars) in a new series of measures aimed at mitigating the impact of inflation and high energy prices for consumers, the city announced on Sunday. coalition government in the country.

“Germany stands together in difficult times. As a country, we will get through this difficult period,” Chancellor Olaf Scholz said at a press conference on Sunday with leaders of the Greens and the pro-business FDP, the two coalition partners of his centre-left Social Democrats.

Among the measures announced on Sunday are additional one-off payments to help consumers cover energy costs, a planned price cap on a base amount of energy consumption for families and individuals, and a successor to the popular “ticket at 9 euros” from the country for the national public. transit.

Scholz said he was “very aware” that many Germans were struggling to cope with rising prices and that the government was ready to help. “We take these concerns very, very seriously,” he said.

In addition to the previously announced one-off €300 payments for workers to offset energy costs, the government plans to offer one-off payments to other groups. Pensioners will receive, for example, 300 euros, while students will receive 200 euros.

To keep energy costs down for individuals and families, the government announced a “tariff brake” on energy prices, saying it planned to offer everyone a quantity of energy base to be determined at a lower rate.

The government will also develop a successor to its “9 euro ticket”, a national ticket allowing unlimited travel on local and regional public transport. The €9 per month ticket was announced for three months in early June as part of a government program to tackle high inflation and fuel prices.

Although officials have not announced the new monthly price for this ticket going forward, the agreement released by the coalition listed suggestions of 49 euros or 69 euros and stated that it aimed to offer something within that range. .

Additional measures under the package include higher subsidies for families with children, housing subsidy reform and higher payments for low-income people receiving government assistance.

Scholz’s government has come under pressure in recent weeks to indicate how it plans to follow through on its promise to help consumers with the costs of inflation and rising energy prices.

In addition to higher wholesale natural gas prices caused by the Russian invasion of Ukraine earlier this year, German consumers will have to pay a new surcharge to support energy companies struggling to find new supplies on the world market.

Scholz blamed Russian President Vladimir Putin for Germany’s high energy prices, saying Russia “broke its contract” and “is no longer a reliable energy supplier”.

In July, when the government began to implement measures to avert an energy crisis, Scholz promised to relieve consumers by saying “you will never walk alone”.

In recent weeks, the government had announced other actions to help consumers, including one-off payments of 300 euros for workers and the reduction of value added tax on petrol from 19% to 7% until end of March 2024.

James R. Rhodes