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POLITICS

Critics slam German MP pay raise

A proposal to raise pay for members of Germany’s parliament for the second time in a year drew bitter criticism on Wednesday.

Critics slam German MP pay raise
Photo: DPA

Taxpayers’ Alliance President Harl Heinz Däke called the increase ‘shameless’ in an interview Wednesday in the German newspaper Saarbrücker Zeitung.

On the heels of a 9 percent raise in November, a two-tiered 6 percent raise would hike MP pay 16.4 percent, Däke said.

Dirk Niebel, secretary general of the liberal opposition party the Free Democrats (FDP), called for an independent commission to set MP pay.

“Public sector wage contracts do not necessarily have to be transferred to MPs and their paychecks,” Niebel told the newspaper Rhein-Neckar-Zeitung.

Leaders of the Christian Democrats (CDU) and their coalition partners the Social Democrats (SPD) proposed the increase to keep pace with public sector pay that is rising in the wake of labour struggles across Germany.

Under the pay increases now planned, the 612 members of Germany’s Bundestag would see their monthly pay rise €278 ($430) to €7,946 on Jan. 1, an increase of 3.63 percent.

A second 2.68 percent raise – an increase of €213 each month to €8,159 – is planned a year later.

Representatives of trade union Verdi, which has led strikes and wage disputes, said they were astonished at the proposed increase and that MPs should not automatically benefit from increases fought for by civil servants.

“The MPs have to make their own case for why they think their pay should increase,” Klaus Weber, Verdi division head for the civil service, told the newspaper Berliner Zeitung.

POLITICS

EU ministers urge unity after Germany’s energy ‘bazooka’

EU finance ministers on Monday pleaded for unity after Germany announced a €200 billion plan to help German households and businesses pay for high energy prices, amid accusations that the EU's biggest economy was acting alone.

EU ministers urge unity after Germany's energy 'bazooka'

Europe is struggling with historically high energy prices as it faces an early autumn cold snap and a coming winter almost certainly to be endured without crucial Russian gas supplies because of the war in Ukraine.

Many EU countries have announced national programmes to shield consumers from the high prices. But Germany went the furthest on Friday when it announced its mammoth plan, which will see help pouring to Germans for two years.

Arriving to talk with his eurozone counterparts, German Finance Minister Christian Lindner insisted the spending was “proportionate” to the size of Germany’s economy and said his goal was to use as little of the money as possible.

READ ALSO: Germany to spend €200 billion to cap soaring energy costs

But Germany’s largesse rankled several EU capitals, some of which feared their industries could take severe blows while Germany’s sits protected, deforming the EU’s single market.

Outgoing Italian prime minister Mario Draghi has slammed Berlin for its lack of solidarity and coordination with EU partners.

French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire, without directly criticizing Berlin, called on partners to agree a common strategy against the price shock and for countries to refrain from going it alone.

“The more this strategy is coordinated, united, the better it is for all of us,” he said.

Risk to ‘European unity’

Others pointed to the unprecedented solidarity shown in the Covid-19 crisis in which the 27 EU nations, against all expectations, approved a jointly financed €750 billion recovery plan.

“Solidarity is not only on the German shoulders, I think this is something that we have to deliver at European level,” said EU economics affairs commissioner Paolo Gentiloni.

“We have very good examples from the previous crisis on how solidarity can react to a crisis and also reassure financial markets. I think that this is our goal,” he said.

While a Covid-style recovery plan is not in the cards for now, Le Maire said €200 billion in loans and €20 billion in aid should be devoted to REPowerEU, a programme to help countries break their dependence on Russian gas.

READ ALSO: Will Germany set a gas price cap – and how would it work?

Bruegel, a highly influential think tank in Brussels, called the German plan a spending “bazooka” that many EU countries were unable to match, creating a potential source of animosity.

“If the German gas price brake gives German business a much better chance to survive the crisis than, say, Italian business, economic divergences in the EU could be deepened, and European unity on Russia undermined,” it said in a blog.

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