Before the eagerly awaited top meeting of the traffic light coalition, Chancellor Olaf Scholz (SPD) was optimistic that there would be concrete results. The alliance of SPD, Greens and FDP has big plans overall, and he is “confident that we are now making a small leap forward,” said Scholz the day before in Potsdam.

Green leader Ricarda Lang was also confident. “We were chosen to solve problems. We will,” she told the “Bild am Sonntag”. There’s a lot on the table. “Now it’s time to cut through one knot after the other.”

The heads of the traffic light coalition will meet on Sunday evening (from 6 p.m.) in the Berlin Chancellery to work through a long list of points of contention. These include the future of motorway construction, the phasing out of oil and gas heating or the financing of basic child security.

Rough tone in the coalition

In recent weeks, the tone in the coalition had become much rougher. Vice-Chancellor Robert Habeck (Greens) had even complained about a breach of trust because a draft law from his house was pushed through to the media.

FDP politicians, in turn, repeatedly urged discipline when spending money – especially with a view to the federal budget for 2024 that is now pending. FDP Secretary General Bijan Djir-Sarai said before the summit: “All coalition parties must recognize the current financial realities. This includes compliance with the Debt brake and a prioritization of government spending.”

The fact that the dispute between the EU Commission and the German government about the future of cars with combustion engines has been settled could have a positive effect on the atmosphere at the meeting in the Chancellery. The hanging game had been criticized above all by the Greens. It has been clear since Friday evening that cars powered by climate-neutral fuels may also be registered after 2035. The FDP had insisted on that.

A number of issues remain, however:

Replacement of oil and gas heaters

The basic idea has actually long been agreed in the coalition: from 2024, if possible, only new heating systems that are operated with at least 65 percent renewable energy should be installed. In fact, this means the end of conventional oil and gas heating systems. Habeck poured that into a controversial bill. SPD and FDP both emphasize that homeowners and tenants should not be overwhelmed.

Faster construction of motorways too

For months, the coalition has been arguing whether only railway lines and bridges should be built more quickly or also motorways. The FDP wants the latter. The Greens, on the other hand, categorically reject a faster expansion of motorways.

More climate protection in transport

The federal government has just met its climate goals in transport again, compared to the previous year the greenhouse gas emissions even increased. The Greens in particular, but also the SPD, are now putting pressure on Transport Minister Volker Wissing (FDP). For many months he has owed an emergency program with sufficient measures that permanently reduced CO2 emissions in traffic.

Financing basic child security

From 2025, basic child security is to bundle state benefits for families and children. It is still controversial in the coalition what should be included. Family Minister Lisa Paus (Greens) wants an increase because, in her opinion, the previous aid does not adequately combat child poverty. It has therefore announced a need of twelve billion euros. Finance Minister Christian Lindner (FDP) does not consider an increase to be necessary because the coalition has just raised child benefits.

The coalition committee includes the party and faction leaders of the three traffic light parties as well as the chancellor and several ministers – a total of almost 20 politicians. In the coalition agreement, the SPD, Greens and FDP had agreed that the committee would meet monthly “to discuss fundamental and current political issues and coordinate further work planning”. In practice, however, the committee met much less frequently.