One night and a half a day were not enough: the traffic light coalition of SPD, Greens and FDP has interrupted their top-level talks for the time being. Talks are scheduled to continue on Tuesday morning – coalition committee, day three.

After debates up to the last minute, some of those involved had to leave hastily on Monday afternoon. A helicopter became a ministerial taxi so that Chancellor Olaf Scholz (SPD) and his cabinet members could get away in time for the German-Dutch government consultations in Rotterdam. Only Minister of Finance Christian Lindner (FDP) rushed to the airport in the car.

“Inventiveness, lack of sleep – coalition committee,” the FDP leader had cryptically tweeted shortly before. But it wasn’t enough for results, at least on Monday, despite Scholz’ demonstrative optimism at the beginning.

Instead, the three traffic light partners announced that “we had made a lot of progress in trusting and constructive talks.” Otherwise, little came out during the endless lap. Only so much: The talks are “particularly about the question of planning acceleration” for infrastructure measures, said government spokesman Steffen Hebestreit. “And there are many conflicting goals to be clarified.” For example, it is important to reconcile the desire for faster expansion of renewable energies, roads and rails with affordability, predictability and the future of industrial production in Germany.

Struggle for climate protection in transport

The coalition leaders wanted to work through a long list of points of contention in the Berlin Chancellery. In the run-up to this, climate protection in transport was identified as the biggest topic of conflict. The federal government must reverse the trend here. According to the Federal Environment Agency, greenhouse gas emissions in this area have recently increased instead of decreasing. The Greens in particular are demanding more effort from Transport Minister Volker Wissing. However, its FDP strictly rejects, for example, a general speed limit on German autobahns, as well as a reform of company car taxation.

But these are not the only measures that could be considered. The Federal Environment Agency and environmental organizations are calling for a bonus-malus system for newly registered cars: the purchase of climate-friendly cars with low CO2 emissions should be promoted, and the purchase of cars with particularly high emissions should be made more expensive. It is questionable whether the FDP can agree to such a step – as well as a reform of the commuter allowance.

Without concrete measures for more climate protection in traffic, however, the Greens are unlikely to agree to faster construction of motorway routes. The FDP wants not only railway lines and bridges to be built faster, but also certain motorways. In addition, one could, for example, test the environmental compatibility with less effort. In the run-up to the coalition committee, the compromise was an agreement on selected projects such as routes on which there are already constant traffic jams.

The tone in the coalition had recently become rough on other issues as well:

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. In search of a compromise, the traffic light had already progressed before the summit meeting – without details leaking out so far.

Financing basic child security

From 2025, basic child security is to bundle state benefits for families and children. What is disputed is 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. Lindner does not consider an increase to be imperative because the coalition has just raised child benefits.

Different attitudes towards spending money

Before the coalition committee, FDP politicians repeatedly called for financial discipline – especially with a view to the federal budget for 2024 that is now pending. “All coalition parties must recognize the current financial realities,” said Secretary General Bijan Djir-Sarai. But the three parties had no common basic understanding.

The traffic light politicians would probably answer differently whether disputes like these can be better clarified when overtired or after a good night’s sleep. On Monday, the chancellor had already noticed that he hadn’t slept very much, said government spokesman Hebestreit. He does not know of any overnight accommodations in the Chancellery, he said, referring to the members of the coalition committee. On Tuesday it should initially continue in daylight.

“Alliance for Transformation” postponed

Because of the continuation of the coalition committee on Tuesday, another meeting in the Chancellery has been postponed. This is about the Alliance for Transformation, as the federal government announced.

Your meeting with Chancellor Olaf Scholz was supposed to take place in the morning. The alliance is about a dialogue between the federal government and leaders from business, trade unions, associations, science and civil society. Topic are framework conditions for the climate-friendly transformation of Germany.