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Bavaria, Hesse challenge aid to poorer states
Photo: DPA

Bavaria, Hesse challenge aid to poorer states

Published: 05 Feb 2013 16:22 GMT+01:00
Updated: 05 Feb 2013 16:22 GMT+01:00

Bavaria and Hesse announced on Tuesday they would mount a constitutional challenge to Germany's federal system of financial transfers between poorer and richer states.

The long-awaited decision to actually take their case to the top court came after the premiers of the two states held consultations in the Hessian state capital Wiesbaden.

Volker Bouffier and Horst Seehofer, the conservative leaders of Hesse and Bavaria respectively, no longer want to prop up the weakest of Germany's 16 federal states via the fund designed to smooth out wealth disparities.

"The time for a lawsuit has come," said Bouffier, calling it an "act of political self-defence."

Currently three states, Baden-Württemberg, Hesse and Bavaria, pay billions of euros each year into the so-called Länderfinanzausgleich. The two leaders have complained the system penalizes richer states for their good economic performance, while poorer states profit from their hard work.

New figures released last month showed Hesse had paid over €38 billion into the pot since 1990, while Bavaria forked over some €36 billion, and Baden-Württemberg handed over €35 billion. The wealthy city-state of Hamburg ponied up €5.2 billion.

With €45 billion from the Länderfinanzausgleich since 1990, the dirt poor city-state of Berlin has received the most. The eastern German state of Saxony came in second after getting €17 billion from the pot, and Saxony-Anhalt received €10 billion. The northern state of Schleswig-Holstein profited the least, receiving €2.4 billion.

Seehofer on Tuesday said the scheme "lacked solidarity, was unfair, and stifled achievement."

"We in Bavaria have reached a pain threshold for Länderfinanzausgleich," he said.

But perhaps tellingly, the centre-left state government in Baden-Württemberg has refused to join the constitution challenge.

Critics have noted that both Bouffier and Seehofer face re-election this autumn, and that the court case could be a way to pander to the voters in their respective states.

And other states have pointed out that once-poor Bavaria received payments from the pot for decades.

"I really have no understanding for calling the current rules into question," said Stanislaw Tillich, the conservative premier of Saxony.

DPA/DAPD/The Local/mry

The Local (news@thelocal.de)

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Your comments about this article

17:40 February 5, 2013 by DoubleDTown
while they are at it, how about challenging the transfer of money from richer people to poorer people?

They do realize the point of a federal republic instead of many individual feudal states is the whole "out of many, one" concept?
18:06 February 5, 2013 by Berlin fuer alles
Explains the German logic applied towards the European Union and the Euro. They only challenge when they have to pay into it but keep their mouths shut about all the benefits they derive from it.
21:44 February 5, 2013 by IchBinKönig
'but keep their mouths shut about all the benefits they derive from it. '

Yes, because Bavaria would NEVER try and secede due to the cheap wonderful benefits.
22:47 February 5, 2013 by pepsionice
When Belgium does finally split apart.....probably by 2014....the discussion of Bavaria exiting Germany will eventually come back around. It might take ten years, but we might want to settle back and watch how this all develops.
18:09 February 6, 2013 by Bigfoot76
"Critics have noted that both Bouffier and Seehofer face re-election this autumn, and that the court case could be a way to pander to the voters in their respective states."

Terrible. I have NEVER heard of a politician doing such a thing before. It is not like every single one of them do whatever they have to in order to sucker voters into choosing them.

Berlin, 45 million since 1990. Did they not just waste almost that much on an Airport that still has no plan, direction, expectation or idea when it will actually open or how over budget it will be? They do not even know what needs to be finished yet nor who will be in charge from one week to the next.

Then reciting another story in our beloved thelocal.de, Berliners want to criticize people from other states for practicing their customs in Berlin. If we are paying for your existence, I think we should be allowed to drink the type of beer we want, when we want and for the reason we want as long as it hurts no one and I absolutely will wear Lederhosen while doing it as well.

I sound mad huh? lol
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