The municipalities in Lusatia are concerned about the precautionary blocking of financial commitments for the coming years by the federal government. "We fear that this budget freeze will mean that projects cannot be implemented or can only be implemented with a delay," said Christine Herntier, spokesperson for the Lusatia Round Table for Brandenburg's municipalities, to the German Press Agency. Even if the 40 billion euros promised by the federal government for structural change in the coal regions were secure, partners would still be needed for implementation. "If they are unable to act, we have a problem," said Herntier.
This Friday, the Lusatia Round Table will meet with representatives from Saxony and Brandenburg in Spremberg (Spree-Neisse). The Commissioner for Eastern Germany, Carsten Schneider, will also be attending the meeting.
The background to the municipalities' concerns is a decision by the Federal Constitutional Court. It had declared the reallocation of 60 billion euros in the 2021 budget null and void. The money had been approved as a coronavirus loan, but was subsequently to be used for climate protection and the modernization of the economy.
At the same time, the judges ruled that the state may not reserve emergency loans for later years. This means that further billions for future projects are at risk. As the exact impact on the regular budget is still unclear, the Ministry of Finance has decided to block certain commitments from all ministries in the budget for the coming years as a precautionary measure.
Saxony and Brandenburg are currently developing differently, explained Herntier. In Brandenburg, the focus is on new settlements and the creation of value chains. Municipal projects, on the other hand, are lagging behind. In Saxony, the opposite is true. "Structural change needs both," said Herntier, who is also the mayor of Spremberg. Transport links to the region are a major problem in particular.
The non-party politician does have one piece of positive news, however: more people are returning to the region. Thanks to structural change, it is now easier to find arguments to convince people to stay here, says Herntier. Now, scientific institutions need to move into the area. In the Schwarze Pumpe industrial park on the Saxon-Brandenburg border, for example, the four Saxon universities of Dresden, Freiberg, Chemnitz and Zittau-Görlitz are planning to set up institutes at the beginning of next year.
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