Germany’s FinMin blasts EU over ‘enormously dangerous’ green plans

ER Editor: So the German finance minister’s party has just helped push through the massively unpopular home heating law which bans new installations of oil and gas heating systems over the next few years, dangerously pushing up costs on everyone. Yet now he’s against more of the same at the EU level.


Christian Lindner argued that money needed for building renovations could be better spent on other climate-friendly projects | Odd Andersen/AFP via Getty Images


The high-level intervention by the German minister comes days after German Chancellor Olaf Scholz unveiled a plan to remove “bureaucratic obstacles” to economic growth at home, while also promising to push for the same on the EU level.

Lindner, the head of the pro-business Free Democratic Party (FDP), in particular targeted the EU’s energy performance directive for buildings, a critical part of von der Leyen’s “Green Deal” climate law package. The proposed directive mandates the renovation of older buildings across the bloc with the aim of fully decarbonizing the EU’s building stock by 2050.

“I think [the EU buildings plan] is enormously dangerous,” Lindner said. The directive, he added, could endanger “social peace” because “people might get the impression that the policy makes it harder for them to live in their own homes and be able to pay for it.”

The controversial buildings plan was proposed by von der Leyen in late 2021 and is currently in the final stages of negotiations between EU countries — which are pushing for laxer rules — and members of the European Parliament — many of whom want the bill to be more ambitious. (ER: Of course they do, living in the Brussels bubble.)

Buildings in the EU account for some 35 percent of its greenhouse gas emissions, so making them more energy efficient is critical to the bloc’s goal of being carbon neutral by 2050.

Lindner argued that money needed for building renovations could be better spent on other climate-friendly projects, like investing in Europe’s energy infrastructure, which would help to “strengthen the economic competitiveness of the EU.”

The German finance minister’s attack comes just ahead of von der Leyen’s State of the European Union speech on Wednesday, in which she is expected to highlight her achievements, including the Green Deal, in a bid to lay the groundwork for a potential second term as Commission president. (ER: Yes, we’re laughing. ‘Achievements’.)

It’s highly unusual for a German federal minister to attack a Brussels plan so stridently. But for Lindner, there is almost certainly a domestic political calculation.

A lesson learned

Last week, Lindner’s FDP — which governs in Germany’s three-party coalition along with the Greens and Chancellor Olaf Scholz’s Social Democrats — helped push a controversial heating bill through the German parliament that effectively bans new installations of oil and gas heating systems in favor of heat pumps that use cleaner energy (ER: and are much more expensive). The law sparked a fierce public backlash and months of infighting within the ruling coalition.

The heating law is also unpopular with a large swath of Lindner’s conservative, economically liberal base. …




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