The gas prices on the world market are exploding and this development will also reach German consumers in a timely manner. This worries the traffic light government and the opposition. Both sides are therefore discussing ways of taking countermeasures. The proposals do not differ greatly – and not at all in one point: it will be really expensive for the federal government.

Economics Minister Robert Habeck has a problem: Germany lacks gas. There are still too few alternatives to Russian gas, and the country will probably have to make do with less than before. And where the supply goes down, the price goes up. Large gas companies like Uniper are already noticing this. So much so that without government help they fear ruin. So far, they have not been allowed to pass the increased world market prices on to consumers. But that could change as early as July.

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The high prices could then be passed on to households in a new procedure via a levy. The traffic light wants to anchor the corresponding option this week (on Friday) in the existing Energy Safety Act.

The Germans, who are already struggling with the rapidly rising inflation, are threatened with additional burdens, depending on consumption. A problem that arouses great concern within the traffic lights, but also among the opposition. Both sides are therefore already discussing options for taking countermeasures. The proposals do not differ greatly – and not at all in one point: the ideas could be really expensive for the federal government.

In the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs, Energy and Climate Protection there is no topic that is as much in the foreground as the energy crisis. While Minister Habeck is still talking about state rescue packages for gas companies in front of the cameras, the next steps are already being discussed in the background.

The idea: A kind of “gas price cap for basic consumption”. The proposal originally came from economist Sebastian Dullien. The DGB boss Yasmin Fahimi introduced it for the first time last weekend.

The federal government sets a gas quota per capita, the price for this package is capped. In concrete terms: if around 1,000 kilowatt hours are set for 60 euros for this quota, but gas instead of 60 euros costs 80 euros in the future, then the state would pay the 20 euros difference. The additional consumption above the basic consumption must be paid by the end user himself.

The goal: Such a step should relieve those households with gas heating financially and create an incentive to use energy more sparingly.

The CSU wants to propose something similar on Tuesday. Here the model is called “base price gas” – but essentially it is about the same idea.

It is unclear what the implementation of the idea should look like. Does everyone get the same quota? Or are small and medium-sized incomes relieved more than large earners, i.e. get larger price-capped contingents.

Tilman Kuban, CDU member of the Bundestag and chairman of the Junge Union, warns: “After the tank discount that doesn’t work, the 9-euro ticket for leisure time and the 300-euro energy money for everyone, the traffic light shouldn’t be watering can politics again.” It would have to especially small and medium incomes are relieved. “Top earners don’t need these subsidies,” says Kuban.

It is clear that such a relief project could cost the federal government billions. At the moment, money is tight. Should the traffic light – possibly together with parts of the opposition – agree on such a proposal, there is hardly any financial leeway to realize this. The federal government would then need another supplementary budget. That would mean that Finance Minister Lindner (FDP) would take on debt again and not comply with the debt brake again.

Unless the government finds another way of financing it. One hears from Green circles that the finance minister has put a little money aside. Because Lindner plans to reduce the cold progression in the tax rates in the fall. A costly plan that the Liberals have been announcing for weeks, but which the Greens consider to be ineffective. In the end, the FDP leader may have to make a decision: either money for cheap gas or money for lower taxes.