Berlin Chancellor Olaf Scholz (SPD) and the prime ministers of the federal states will not agree on a pact this Thursday as planned to speed up planning and approval processes. The proposals are still too vague, it said in circles of the state governments.
A spokeswoman for the federal government said that they are working “intensively” to speed up procedures “considerably”. “The details of the pact are currently being discussed intensively between the federal and state governments.”
As it was said, the federal-state pact is to be discussed and decided at a special conference of prime ministers next year. Lower Saxony’s Prime Minister Stephan Weil (SPD) told the Handelsblatt that the federal and state governments wanted to “discuss the proposals promptly and then come to decisions quickly”.
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The delays are causing business frustration. Holger Loesch, deputy general manager at the Federation of German Industries (BDI), called on the federal government to act “boldly and quickly”.
Chancellor Scholz wants to “drastically” shorten the procedure
“Test orders and vague ideas do not meet the demand for speeding up processes,” said Loesch the Handelsblatt. “Especially in the crisis, the federal and state governments have to speed up all relevant approvals and make decisions much faster.”
Test orders and vague ideas do not meet the demand for speeding up processes. Holger Loesch, Federal Association of German Industry
Chancellor Scholz himself had declared at Industry Day in the summer that his government would make decisions in the coming months to “drastically reduce” the time for planning and approval procedures. The aim is to “at least halve” their duration.
Most recently, a 13-page paper was available, which, in addition to legislative projects, also provided for the federal and state governments to set up a personnel pool and digitize processes. For this alone there are many financing questions, as it was said. The Prime Minister of North Rhine-Westphalia, Hendrik Wüst (CDU), stated that the federal government had “not yet made sufficient proposals to speed up planning”. That is why the pact is “not yet ready for a decision”.
In fact, so far only one draft law has passed the federal cabinet after a long back and forth between the FDP and the Greens. Justice Minister Marco Buschmann (FDP) wants to use him to speed up administrative court proceedings. The legislative process is expected to be completed in February.
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In addition to professional criticism, the coalition dispute was primarily about whether road projects should also be implemented more quickly in the future. The fundamental dispute also affects other areas.
Transport Minister Volker Wissing (FDP) presented his own draft law last week to implement transport projects more quickly. “We now need big steps in the planning of infrastructure projects, also on the road,” the minister explained his initiative. “We not only have to quickly upgrade and expand our rail infrastructure, but also our road infrastructure.”
The draft law comprises 106 pages and has one goal above all: In the future, transport projects should be able to be implemented as quickly as liquid gas terminals on the North Sea and Baltic Sea in the wake of the energy crisis. The draft law “takes up essential regulations from the LNG Acceleration Act and makes them applicable to the transport sector,” the draft says. It is “regulated that the realization of particularly important projects in the area of trunk roads, railways and waterways is in the overriding public interest and serves public safety”.
Tricky acceleration law for liquid gas terminals
The first liquid gas terminal in Wilhelmshaven has already been built. This is the “blueprint for all infrastructure projects,” defended the FDP faction vizin Carina Konrad Wissing’s plan. After all, the SPD, Greens and FDP had “written a clear modernization agenda on the flags”. The goal of at least halving the planning periods remains the same.
We cannot speed everything up at the same time, the transport minister said so himself. Lukas Benner, The Greens
The Greens see it differently. “We can’t accelerate everything at the same time, the transport minister said so himself,” replied Lukas Benner, a member of the Bundestag. “This means that we have to set clear priorities.” These are based on the “expansion of renewables, rail, sustainable infrastructure”. For roads, the specification of the coalition agreement applies: “Maintain before new construction.”
Behind the scenes it was said that even the LNG law was anything but legally secure and that the environmental and nature conservation organizations only refrained from filing lawsuits in view of the energy crisis. They would no longer hold back on other infrastructure projects.
“Always addressing the question of the environmental impact assessment as a problem does not help,” said NRW Transport Minister Oliver Krischer (Greens). The reasons for excessively long procedures would be a lack of staff in the approval authorities. Minister Wissing only creates “new legal uncertainty”.
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In the draft, however, there is a list of a number of road, bridge, rail and waterway projects that are to be given priority. In this way, preparatory work and the start of construction should be possible during the ongoing process. Complaints would be dealt with directly by the Federal Administrative Court.
In a position paper, the industry calls for processes to be accelerated extensively, from industrial plants to the procurement of raw materials. In the case of industrial plants alone, the BDI assumes that the approval procedures will double by 2030, “due to the green and digital transformation”.
Managing Director Loesch pointed out that faster procedures can already be implemented for a limited period under the Immission Control Act. Accordingly, it is possible to involve the public in a shorter time and to start construction earlier. Loesch called for these exceptions to be introduced “permanently”. “Approval procedures are bottlenecks for security of supply and the transformation of the economy.”
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