Federal Minister of Economics Robert Habeck spoke out in favor of further economic sanctions against Russia during an appearance in Munich. “I don’t want to hide the fact that my ministry is still thinking about further sanctions. We’re far from finished,” said the Green politician on Wednesday evening at an event organized by the Bavarian Economy Association (vbw) in the Coat of Arms Hall of the former airport Riem. The sanctions are already “highly effective” and hit Russia hard. According to data from his company, the country’s economy has recently shrunk by eight percent, investments have fallen by 34 percent and inflation is currently at 17 percent.
Habeck expects this situation to worsen over the next few months as many of the sanctions become more effective the longer they are in place. “If you need a special part for the maintenance of an aircraft, you might have a few in stock. But when the income is there, you can no longer fly, or you have to lift the safety standards. That’s roughly where they are,” said Habeck, who has identified an area in which he believes a major impact could quickly be made: the IT industry. “Especially in the area of digital maintenance, we haven’t done everything we can do. If the big European software supply programs were actually no longer maintained, then it would be even more blatant.” However, the European partners would have to agree on this. “As far as I’m concerned,” says Habeck, “we’ll load it again.”
At noon, the Vice Chancellor and Prime Minister Markus Söder (CSU) opened the International Crafts Fair, which will take place in the Riem Exhibition Center until July 10th. In the late afternoon, the vbw then invited members of the association to talk to them. A Minister of Economics from the Greens on a podium in front of Bavarian entrepreneurs – not too long ago that would have been a tense constellation. However, Habeck was greeted by vbw President Wolfram Hatz, whose own company manufactures combustion engines, with so many expressions of respect that the issues on which the association rubbed shoulders with the minister’s positions quickly went under: the end of combustion engines from 2035 and the “No” to extending the service life of the three nuclear power plants Isar 2, Emsland and Neckarwestheim 2.
Habeck justified his adherence to the nuclear phase-out with a firm voice (continued operation would not help much with the gas problem, but would cause considerable legal problems because the operating permits expire at the end of 2022). The combustion engine off played neither in Habeck’s 20-minute impromptu lecture nor in the following 20 minutes of discussion. Only in the farewell gift, a diesel-powered emergency power generator from Hatz to be passed on to an aid organization, did the subject come up again. In the more than friendly farewell applause, Habeck smiled confidently away.
His analysis of the steep rise in energy prices had previously been well received. From his point of view, this means a threefold risk for the German economy: loss of purchasing power, imminent credit crunch and investment weakness. All three scenarios are “not quite there yet. But they are threatening, regardless of whether Putin completely turns off the gas tap or not”. The good thing is that the Federal Government can give political answers to all three scenarios, said the Economics Minister, before he switched to a rapid Söderian tone for his closing remarks: “It is threatening, and the scenarios can be painted in gloomy colors. But if we take what we actually need from the last few months, then we can prevail. As a society, as Germany, as the economy of Bavaria. And we want to work on that.”