Robert Habeck’s words are haunting. Because of the energy price crisis, the minister warns of permanent damage to the German economy and spoke out in favor of extensive financial aid from the federal government. The economist Daniel Stelter sees the blame that it could come to this, however, with the minister himself – and the federal government.

The energy crisis is a nightmare for the German economy. “Sometimes it’s just a smoldering fire, sometimes the hut is already burning,” said Federal Minister of Economics Robert Habeck (Greens). In any case, the future viability of our economy is in danger and there is a risk of permanent damage. Permanent damage, for which Habeck bears a large part of the responsibility, says top economist Daniel Stelter.

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For years, the industrial sector in Germany in particular has been struggling with difficult conditions: “decaying infrastructure, increasingly obvious deficiencies in the education system, backward digitization, growing bureaucracy, uncompetitive tax and levy burdens and, on top of that, a climate policy that relies on disproportionate increases in prices of energy to push the local economy into a pioneering role without examining the question of whether it can survive such a role,” writes Stelter in a guest article on FOCUS online.

Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine and the resulting horrendous energy prices have made this already poor starting position even worse. According to Stelter, the enormous cost shock is leading to massive de-industrialization in Germany. Companies migrate abroad, those who stay in Germany “and face international competition run the risk of not being able to cope with this increase in costs and leaving the market permanently.”

Habeck, on the other hand, is combative and emphasizes that he now wants to muster all the financial strength to bring the good substance of the German economy through the crisis, to secure jobs and to protect the investment and future viability of the same economy. The Economics Minister is doing all he can to ensure this. “We are working flat out in the Federal Ministry of Economics to set up the aid programs and are discussing the important question of financing in the government. We mustn’t lose any time here,” said Habeck.

For Stelter it is clear: Habeck has already let too much time pass. As a consequence, the economist blames the minister for job losses and company relocations. On Twitter he writes: “Habeck had 7 months to react to the economic and energy war. Means: maximum expansion of the supply of energy. He has done nothing. Every business and job lost goes to his account. (And: no, even 10,000 more wind turbines wouldn’t change that).”

What Habeck and the federal government do not seem to realize: “You can perhaps shut down a restaurant for a few months and then reopen it or, in the event of bankruptcy, replace it with another one. This does not apply to industrial companies. Once a plant has been closed, it is by no means certain that it will open again,” says Stelter.

On Wednesday, Chancellor Olaf Scholz (SPD) will meet with the heads of government of the federal states to make up for lost time. Habeck had already announced plans to expand government aid programs for companies. However, the question of financing remains open. Habeck brought a special fund into play. A special pot worth 100 billion euros had been decided for the Bundeswehr.