Interview with Merz: "Energy supply is a political issue"

A longer service life for nuclear power plants would supply ten million households.

Interview with Merz: "Energy supply is a political issue"

A longer service life for nuclear power plants would supply ten million households. German fracking gas would guarantee years of independence. For CDU leader Merz, this shows that all options must be discussed. He is also critical of the traffic light relief, but also points out the limits of what is possible.

A longer service life for nuclear power plants would supply ten million households. German fracking gas would guarantee years of independence. For CDU leader Merz, this shows that all options must be discussed. He is also critical of the traffic light relief, but also points out the limits of what is possible.

ntv: Friedrich Merz, NATO wants to increase the number of soldiers in its rapid reaction force from 40,000 to 300,000. The turning point is obviously becoming concrete. Is the Bundeswehr prepared for this?

Friedrich Merz: A few weeks ago, together with the coalition, we re-equipped the Bundeswehr financially by financing a special fund with new debts of 100 billion euros in order to equip and upgrade the Bundeswehr in this way. I suspect that the military commissioner is still right. We're going to have to do this consistently. We will also need to permanently increase the defense budget to meet these demands. The requirements are correct, but the Bundeswehr must also be able to do it, and we will have to continue to work towards that.

So continue to deploy means: At the moment the Bundeswehr is only partially ready to defend itself?

We know that the Bundeswehr is not in a particularly good condition. Many are responsible for this. We too, but not only. That's why we undertook this joint effort. However, we pointed out from the outset that EUR 100 billion would not be enough to make up for decades of deficits. In this respect, we are now talking about a very long period of very long, solid financing and equipment for the Bundeswehr. And we will also have to talk about this as part of the so-called medium-term financial planning, which must then also extend beyond this period of 100 billion.

Germany hosted the G7 summit in Elmau. A signal of unity went out from there. What role do you think Germany currently plays on the international stage? Is the federal government doing everything right at the moment?

This summit was necessary and right, despite all the criticism leveled at it. However, one has to say that these summits, which Helmut Schmidt brought to life in 1975, no longer represent the majority of economic output on this globe as they did back then. Just to give you a number: in 1975 it was two thirds. Today it is still a third. That means the weights in the world have shifted. So it was right to invite some states as guests. But I could have imagined that there would also be a joint final communiqué with the guests. Unfortunately, that didn't happen and, regrettably, it didn't happen with India either. India is a key country and the Chancellor rightly said so. At the beginning of May the Prime Minister was in Germany and said India is the key country in Asia. It might have taken a bit more effort to include India, for example in a joint final communiqué at this G7 summit.

We will see India again at the latest at the G20 summit in Indonesia in the autumn. The G20 also exists because the G7 can no longer represent the world. Russian President Vladimir Putin has announced that he intends to take part in this summit. The Chancellor has left open whether he will go there. He'll probably go. Would you do that? And what would you actually want to say to Putin?

I cannot and do not want to imagine that these formats - G7 or G20 - will now become the order of the day in such a way that Putin will be seen there again. He was formally expelled from G7 after the occupation of Crimea. It used to be G8. To have the G20 take place now and have Putin sitting there as one of 20 heads of state and government at the table, I think it's unimaginable.

But there are also other representatives at the table at the G20 who are not exactly among the flawless democracies. Let's think of China or Saudi Arabia. So we soon have a small circle.

But there is a difference between not being a democracy and waging an aggressive war of aggression in Europe against a large democratic country that violates international law. So again: I can't imagine Putin sitting at the negotiating table.

So you would advocate excluding Russia? And if Putin comes to the G20 summit, shouldn't Olaf Scholz go there?

There are signals from the host country that said: Russia yes, Putin no. Perhaps agreement can be reached on such a severability clause or on such a clever formulation. Again, I find it inconceivable that he is sitting there.

It is not a long way from Putin to energy independence in Germany. Russia can stop the flow of gas at any time. Nevertheless, in Germany the federal government is sticking to it: The nuclear power plants are to be shut down punctually at the end of the year and fracking gas is not promoted in Germany either. Is that the right, the comprehensible course?

I want to stick to my assessment: In view of the worsening energy supply situation, we should not forego any option at the moment. You can keep the nuclear power plants running. We all know that they only make a small contribution to the electricity supply in Germany. But at least there are ten million households that can be supplied with it. Fracking in Germany is currently not permitted. But we would have gas in Germany on a scale that would allow us to be independent for many years. The question is whether you can do it socio-politically. You can't do that against society. But we import fracking gas from America and Canada and are even setting up LNG terminals for it. So the discussion is at the very beginning and far from over. We will have to discuss this. Once again: In principle, we need all options to ensure our country's energy supply.

The head of RWE, Markus Krebber, doesn't think too much of letting the power plants run longer.

I can totally understand that. He is responsible for the business of his company. The power plants are in shutdown mode, the employees have new jobs. But the question is not whether we make the right business decisions, but politically we have to make the right economic decisions. And if there were a way to keep these power plants running, technically and legally, then it should at least be seriously considered. I would be for it. After all, they reliably cover ten million households in Germany with the energy supply.

Inflation is also a big issue. The federal government is now talking about a tax-free one-off payment. Do you think such a model is a good idea?

This should obviously be agreed with the collective bargaining parties. I hear from both sides, from the employers as well as from the employee representatives, that they do not like this idea very much. Especially since this would result in significant losses for the tax budget and also for the social security systems. That's just an idea. Whether it's really good, you have to see in the expression. But you will not be able to compensate for all the disadvantages caused by inflation. Incidentally, it is only a cure for symptoms. It would be better to eliminate the cause. The central banks have to act, they have waited far too long and the state must not incur any more debt. Debt drives inflation and that's one of the reasons.

There are already various relief packages, such as a tank discount or the 9-euro ticket. Is the state in a position to really cushion all the consequences of inflation?

He can not do it. Some members of the federal government, if not all, have so far conceded this. But if he tries to compensate for at least some of the disadvantages, then he shouldn't simply forget individual groups in our society. Such as pensioners or students, who would have the same right to be relieved.

Christian Wilp spoke to Friedrich Merz

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