German government sets out plans for €60 billion ‘future’ fund

Germany's new government is planning to earmark 60 billion euros to fund 'future investment' including its plans to tackle climate change, Finance Minister Christian Lindner said on Friday.

Finance Minister Christian Lindner
Finance Minister Christian Lindner (FDP) sets out the coalition's plans to invest heavily in the transition to renewable energy on Friday, December 10th. Photo: picture alliance/dpa/POOL AP | Michael Sohn

The funds will be taken from debts approved to help the government tackle the coronavirus pandemic but which “have not been used”, said Lindner in his first major announcement since taking office on Wednesday.

The government had signed off a plan to borrow €240 billion in 2021 to finance measures to lessen the impact of the pandemic on businesses but will now only need 180 billion euros.

Germany’s coalition government of the Social Democrats, Greens and liberal FDP has pledged that the expansion of sustainable energy will be “drastically accelerated and all hurdles and obstacles will be removed”.

They plan to phase out coal and source 80 percent of the country’s energy from renewable sources by 2030, with the aim of achieving carbon neutrality 

With an eye on the powerful automotive industry, the parties have also resolved to put 15 million fully electric cars on the road by 2030, up from just over 500,000 currently.

Lindner said the new funds would also be used to invest in the “digitalisation” of the German economy.

During the coalition negotiations, the centre-left SPD and the Greens had initially proposed more flexibility on fiscal policy.

But Lindner’s pro-business FDP succeeded in pushing for a tougher stance on public finances.

The coalition has promised a return to the so-called debt brake — a rule enshrined in the constitution that normally limits Germany’s public deficit to 0.35 percent of overall annual economic output — by 2023.

The debt brake was lifted to help fight the coronavirus pandemic.

“Only by ensuring stable finances can we meet the requirement of fairness between the generations,” Lindner said on Friday.

READ ALSO: KEY POINTS: Germany’s next government unveils coalition pact

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Germany approves €9 public transport ticket for summer

It's official - people in Germany will get cheap public transport for three months this summer after the €9 ticket was approved.

Germany approves €9 public transport ticket for summer

As part of a host of energy relief measures to cushion the cost of living crisis, the German government is offering cheap public transport for the months of June, July and August. 

Monthly tickets will be available at a price of €9 (or €27 for all three months) and they will allow people to use all buses, trains and trams in local and regional transport throughout the country.

So even if people buy the ticket in Munich, they will also be able to use local and regional buses, trains and trams elsewhere in Germany, whether it’s Hamburg or Cologne. 

READ ALSO: How to explore Germany by train with the €9 ticket

The ticket will not be valid, however, on long-distance transport such as ICE trains or Flixbus.

The offer was put together by the coalition government – made of the Social Democrats, the Greens and the FDP.

The Bundestag voted for the initiative on Thursday, agreeing to give federal states a subsidy of €2.5 billion to fund the project. 

And on Friday, the Bundesrat – the upper house of parliament that represents the states – gave the green light to the ticket, paving the way for it to begin on June 1st. 

States had wanted an extra €1.5 billion funding boost to deal with lost revenue, however it would have been hugely controversial if they had blocked it.

READ ALSO: German states threaten to block the €9 ticket in the Bundesrat

During a debate on Thursday, federal Transport Minister Volker Wissing (FDP) said the €9 project was “already a success”.

“All of Germany is talking about local public transport,” he said, adding that it is also being viewed with interest abroad. 

READ ALSO: ‘Fantastic’: Your verdict on Germany’s €9 ticket

The Left party (Die Linke) voted in favour of the €9 ticket, but leader Bernd Riexinger said he thought the plan didn’t go far enough. “Three months is simply too little,” he said.

The opposition, however, slammed the move. Christian Democrat Michael Donth called it an “expensive experiment”.

Rail operator Deutsche Bahn will offer the ticket for sale as early as Monday. Local public transport providers across the country are also preparing their ticket machines for the initiative. It will also be available in travel centres.

People with subscriptions to local transport will automatically benefit from the offer. 

In some regions, such as Stuttgart and Freiburg, the ticket is already available for purchase.

READ ALSO: How to get a hold of the €9 ticket in Berlin