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€49 ticket and payouts for low earners - Germany’s SPD plans new relief package

The Local Germany
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€49 ticket and payouts for low earners - Germany’s SPD plans new relief package
A man sits at a table counting euro notes. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Lino Mirgeler

The Social Democrats are proposing a relief package to help ease the financial burden on Germans amid high energy costs. The party wants to allocate payments to low earners and introduce a nationwide €49 travel ticket.

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In response to the rapidly rising energy prices, the SPD parliamentary group – the policy-making wing of Chancellor Olaf Scholz’s party - has come up with a proposal for a new package of relief measures. If approved by SPD politicians, it will then be negotiated among the traffic light coalition government members.

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Which measures are being proposed?

According to German media reports, one of the paper's key financial proposals is for people with low and medium incomes to receive direct payments from the government to help ease the burden of high energy costs. Though it is not yet entirely clear which groups qualify as "medium income" earners, the paper specifies that families, pensioners, students, trainees and unemployment benefit recipients will benefit from the relief package. 

"For the payment, we expect as soon as possible a proposal from the Federal Ministry of Finance linked to the tax ID and income," the paper says. It's not yet clear how much the payments would be.

READ ALSO: What you need to know about Germany’s €300 energy relief payout

The draft proposes support for renters. Tenants who are unable to pay their Nebenkosten - additional service charges for things like hot water and building maintenance costs - for the 2021/2022 billing periods should be protected for six months against the termination of their rental contracts, the plan states. 

The paper also proposes a €49 successor to the €9 local transport monthly ticket.

"In cooperation with the states, we want to introduce a nationwide public transport ticket with a monthly price of €49, which will be borne 50 percent each by the federal government and the states," the paper says. 

READ ALSO: Berlin considers extending €9 public transport offer

It also calls for the planned increase in the CO2 price - a charge for causing emissions of carbon dioxide - to be suspended for two years "until there is a socially just compensation mechanism." As things stand, the CO2 price is set to rise from 25 to 30 euros per ton of carbon dioxide (CO2) emitted in 2022.

The CO2 price is a charge incurred by companies that trade in heating oil, natural gas, gasoline and diesel.

The SPD parliamentarians also want to adjust the gas levy, which gas customers are to pay from October so that companies that make a profit don't benefit.

"We want to distribute the costs of the crisis fairly. A suitable instrument for this is a targeted excess profits tax for those energy companies that are profiting massively from this crisis," the drafts says.

READ ALSO: Pressure mounts on Germany to prevent energy firms from taking advantage of gas levy

As well as financial matters, the paper also makes policy proposals regarding energy usage and wants to rule out electricity and gas cut-offs.

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What happens next?

The paper will be presented at the SPD parliamentary party meeting on September 1st and 2nd and, if agreed upon, will then be discussed with the other members of the traffic light coalition government.

The traffic light partners already agree in principle that there should be a third relief package - but the exact form it should take has not yet been decided. 

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