Road construction: coalition divided after secret meeting

Berlin Even after another crisis talk, the SPD, Greens and FDP were not able to agree on how they want to speed up planning and approval processes. As the Handelsblatt learned from coalition circles, another meeting last Monday evening in the Federal Chancellery with Chancellor Olaf Scholz (SPD), Environment Minister Steffi Lemke and (Greens) and Transport Minister Volker Wissing (FDP) was unsuccessful. According to the information, the draft law from the Ministry of Transport will not be passed by the Federal Cabinet in the coming week as planned.

Most recently, a secret meeting in mid-December failed. This time, Climate Minister Robert Habeck (Greens) had already named the main point of contention before the meeting with a clear choice of words via a television interview: “It’s about the brutality with which we build new motorways without presenting a coherent traffic concept on the other side.”

Greens attack Minister Wissing head-on

On Thursday, the parliamentary group leader of the Greens intensified the criticism of Transport Minister Wissing with a resolution. The paper is entitled: “Starter package for more climate protection in the transport sector”.

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In it, the Greens demand that planners and engineers should be “appointed correctly”. “Instead of continuing to deal intensively with the planning of new federal trunk roads, it is time for the federal government to focus its infrastructure policy on railways and train stations as the central nodes of the mobility system,” the paper says. At best, the Greens want to rehabilitate ramshackle motorway bridges.

In doing so, they call into question the current federal transport infrastructure plan. It contains all transport projects that the federal government wants to complete by 2030. The traffic projects for the trunk roads are regulated in a separate expansion law that the Bundestag passed in 2016. It includes 1360 projects alone.

Meanwhile, the FDP is restless. “The modernization of our country must now pick up speed,” demanded the chairman of the parliamentary group, Christian Dürr. It is “urgently necessary that we keep our promise from the coalition agreement and at least halve the planning and approval time for all projects,” he told the Handelsblatt. “We as the FDP have been pushing for this for months.”

FDP hopes for support from the SPD – against the Greens

As it was said in coalition circles, the coalition committee should now look for a solution in its next meeting. The FDP relies on the round, but the chairmen also take part. At the beginning of the week, the Federal Executive Committee of the SPD announced “a comeback of infrastructure policy for the 21st century” at a closed conference and adopted the FDP’s position of wanting to build all infrastructure projects, i.e. roads and railways, faster, like Chairwoman Saskia Esken with the words: “We need both”, had explained.

“I’m glad that SPD chairwoman Saskia Esken made it clear that the Social Democrats also want to ignite the turbo when it comes to infrastructure expansion – that applies to rail and roads as well as the energy infrastructure,” said Dürr. “In my view, it makes no sense if the Greens slow down the acceleration of planning and at the same time demand more speed.”

The SPD parliamentary group has also positioned itself in the meantime and discussed an “acceleration paper” at a closed conference in Bremen. “We have to get faster,” said the parliamentary group leader Rolf Mützenich. However, the SPD is also cautious about new road projects.

The deputy parliamentary group leader responsible for transport, Detlef Müller, told the Handelsblatt: “In order to avoid additional bureaucracy, no mode of transport must be excluded.” regarding.”

Controversial federal-state pact

The federal-state pact promoted by Chancellor Scholz, which is intended to speed up planning and approval procedures, does not seem to be progressing. As it was said in coalition circles, the SPD-governed federal states want to consult again on Monday.

With the “Pact for planning, approval and implementation acceleration”, the federal government wants to achieve that states and municipalities digitize their processes and hire more staff. Procedures are also to be standardized nationwide. The federal government offers to contribute financially and build up a staff pool. The countries should be able to use this to process infrastructure projects more quickly.

SPD parliamentary group leader Mützenich confirmed indirectly before the exam that there was a problem. “In particular, we assume that we also have to support the federal states and the municipalities, because we also see that not all positions are filled there.”

The federal government could also help financially and with digitization. Obstacles in the federal system should be overcome. “We would like to achieve this in a cooperative cooperation between the federal and state governments. If it doesn’t work, we will also take the lead as legislators.”

More: The federal government is going astray in its traffic turnaround

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