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Wednesday, December 6, 2023

After the Karlsruhe ruling: budget freeze for ministries

After the ruling on the climate and transformation fund, the entire budget will be examined. The finance minister is stopping spending – but not alone.

A man stands at a desk and speaks

Finance Minister Lindner: First stop all spending Photo: Kay Nietfeld/dpa

BERLIN Reuters | The federal government apparently assesses the effects of the Federal Constitutional Court’s ruling on the climate fund to be more serious than previously assumed. The Federal Ministry of Finance expanded on Monday the budget freeze imposed on the Climate and Transformation Fund (KTF). to almost the entire federal budget. This emerges from a letter from Budget State Secretary Werner Gatzer, which was available in the evening.

When asked late in the evening, the Ministry of Finance said that commitment authorizations in the current budget would be stopped, in order to avoid prior burdens for future years. “Existing obligations will continue to be met, but no new ones may be entered into,” it was emphasized. Elsewhere in the government it was also made clear that Finance Minister Christian Lindner (FDP) was not going it alone: ​​“It was agreed upon and makes sense.”

Gatzer’s letter states: “In order to avoid further burdens for future financial years, I therefore intend to block with immediate effect all of the commitment authorizations that are still available in individual plans 04 to 17 and 23 to 60 of the 2023 federal budget.” Gatzer points out Paragraph 41 of the Federal Budget Code, which regulates a budget freeze.

With the individual plans mentioned, they are Individual budgets of all ministries affected. Individual plan 60 includes the climate and transformation fund and the 200 billion euro defense umbrella to curb energy prices. According to the list, constitutional bodies such as the Federal President, the Bundestag, the Bundesrat and the Federal Constitutional Court are excluded.

The entire budget should be reviewed

The Federal Constitutional Court canceled 60 billion euros from the federal government on Wednesday because the transfer of unused Corona loans to the climate fund was unconstitutional. The government now lacks the money. There are also further clarifications from the court on the debt brake in the Basic Law and the legality of loans, which could also have consequences for the current 2023 budget and the planned 2024 budget. On the day the verdict was announced, Finance Minister Christian Lindner (FDP) ordered a budget freeze only for the climate fund.

As a result of the ruling, “the federal budget needs to review the overall financial situation,” writes Gatzer. After the budget freeze, I can only hold out the prospect of a release of commitment authorizations (…) requested by the ministries in special individual cases if the need is stated in writing and cannot be denied in terms of the facts and time.” “A particularly strict standard is applied to prove such a need”.

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