The information could very well have passed in a satyr or parody newspaper, but it is nevertheless completely real. In Germany there is the problem of energy supply, in a country that has been very resilient to certain international sanctions, while coal and oil are essential drivers of Germany’s powerful industry. And to deal with this situation experienced by most western countries, Germany draws on its past. The boss of the powerful SPD party (that of Chancellor Olaf Scholz, by the way) announces possible ‘shock’ measures. A party that, as we remember, has formed a tricolor coalition with the FDP and the Greens in Germany since the last election.
Speed limits and more?
From now on, on the other side of the Rhine, the end of the highways with unlimited speed seems in sight. Recently, federal ministers of Ecology agreed to start the second on this thorny issue. Pending the decision of the Bundestag on the speed limit to be imposed, Saskia Esken announces concrete and rapid legislative proposals.
Faced with rising fuel prices, the German government recently decided to pull out all the stops: discount of 30 cents per liter for petrol, 14 cents per liter for diesel, and a monthly subscription to public transport for… €9! In comparison, Germany hits the table much harder than France, but prices at the pump have not stopped since.
🇩🇪 The German government has taken the step to lower the fuel tax, which could lower prices from 30 to 35 cts for petrol and from 14 to 17 cts for diesel ⛽https://t.co/gJiIgrWpFM
— 40 million drivers (@40MA) June 9, 2022
The first measure would therefore be to introduce temporary speed limits on most major highways. Measuring before the generalization of limits? For now, the SPD does not confirm this and is content to explain that it is about saving black gold and avoiding excessive demand, which promotes the price increase.
The other measure might make people shudder. Saskia Esken announces that her party based itself on a law from the 1970s, adapted for the occasion. The idea would be to ban Germans from driving on Sundays, with the exception, of course, of essential services and certain businesses. Obviously the change in law doesn’t indicate that the government will necessarily use this cartridge, but the option is now available.
“I already said at the beginning of the year that the state should closely monitor the supply performance and pricing of energy suppliers and, when in doubt, also intervene – energy supply is a service of general interest, we have a duty to do so. Another possible instrument besides antitrust law is the Energy Security Act of 1975, which was passed in response to the oil crisis and which we have now amended† It allows the government to order temporary measures such as driving bans on Sundays – the elderly will remember – or a temporary speed limit, but also price caps or – in extreme cases – put critical energy infrastructure companies under receivership for a limited period, “explained Saskia Esken off to the Tagesspiegel.
Do tankers benefit?
The German government is also targeting the oil giants, which are suspected of taking advantage of the price increases and the huge government discount (estimated cost at 30 billion euros!). †Most of the tax cut goes to the oil companies and not enough to the drivers“adds a spokesman for the ADAC, the German motorists’ association. The difficulty will be to prove that the big energy companies in this merry mess have taken advantage of it on the backs of citizens and states.