The citizens’ income has not been able to pass the state chamber. The dispute over the social reform did not come to a conciliatory end on Monday in the Bundesrat. Union-governed countries voted against the law. A tough struggle is now expected in the mediation committee.
Hartz IV is to be replaced with the traffic light government’s citizens’ income law. The new social reform should take effect as early as next year, enabling people to participate in society with dignity and to be integrated into the labor market in the long term. The Federal Council put a stop to the Federal Government’s goal of “sending a signal for security and creating more respect” on Monday.
The dispute between the traffic light coalition and the Union about the Hartz IV successor is therefore entering the next round. The CDU and CSU reject citizen income. From their point of view, the law reduces the motivation to accept a job. In particular, Bavaria’s Prime Minister Markus Söder (CSU) reiterated his rejection: “We will definitely not agree,” he said on the ARD program “Report from Berlin”. SPD, Greens and FDP reject the Union’s arguments. The chamber of the federal states vetoed the citizen income law, forced by the federal states governed by the union, now calls the so-called mediation committee into action – and increases the time pressure enormously.
Since the citizen’s income is an objection law, the direct influence of the regional chamber is less than in the case of approval laws, which are explicitly listed in the Basic Law. The Federal Council only has the opportunity to express its dissenting opinion by objecting to the law. The objection by the Bundesrat can be overruled by the Bundestag. If there is an objection by the Bundesrat with an absolute majority, the objection can only be overruled with an absolute majority in the Bundestag.
Also read: Analysis by Ulrich Reitz – citizen money is the largest SPD reform for 20 years
Overall, the chances that the citizen’s income can take effect on January 1, 2023 decrease with the veto. In the so-called mediation process, representatives of the Bundestag, Bundesrat and government will now come together and negotiate individual points of criticism of the law with each other. In order to seize the next opportunity to get the law through the Bundesrat, agreement must be reached quickly. On November 25th, the traffic light will open up for the next opportunity in the Federal Council. It remains to be seen whether the tug-of-war in the committee can take place so quickly.
Among other things, the federal government’s citizens’ benefit plans provide for the current standard rate of 449 euros for single people to be increased to 502 euros. A point where the Union also goes along. The situation is different, however, when it comes to future sanction options. The unemployed should be put under less pressure by being threatened with withdrawal of benefits. This applies in particular to the first half of the year when citizens’ income is received. A so-called “trust period” should apply here. In addition, the traffic light with the citizens’ income wants to relax the requirements for the permitted amount of assets and the size of the apartment for benefit recipients. All points that are heavily criticized by the Union and on which agreement must be reached. If the resolutions of the Mediation Committee deviate from those of the Bundestag, a new resolution must be passed in the Bundestag.
More on the topic: Hartz IV will be replaced from January 1, 2023 – What you need to know about citizen income now
If the law is passed, the implementation of the citizen’s income is to be carried out step by step from the new year. It is intended to provide job seekers with basic security and ensure that they do not fall below the subsistence level. According to the law, everyone who was previously entitled to unemployment benefit II or social benefit is entitled to citizen benefit. In concrete terms, this means: “employable” people aged 15 and over, those under 15 and over 65 in need of help, people who cannot cover their living expenses on their own, and people whose benefits under the Unemployment Act I expire. But it is also possible that Hartz IV will still be an issue in 2023 – just with higher standard rates.