German citizens are to receive further state support due to high inflation and soaring energy prices, Chancellor Olaf Scholz said during his summer press conference.
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In addition to previous relief packages totaling 30 billion euros (31 billion U.S. dollars), Scholz promised to "do everything we can to help citizens get through this difficult time."
The package is intended to "include all population groups," Scholz stressed. "So that no one is left alone, no one is faced with unsolvable problems, and no one has to shoulder the challenges associated with increased prices alone."
Inflation in Germany remained high at 7.5 percent in July, according to the Federal Statistical Office (Destatis). In May, inflation in Europe's biggest economy peaked at 7.9 percent, the highest level since the first oil crisis in 1973.
Despite a "slight downward effect" from government measures such as a cheap nine-euro ticket for local public transport and a fuel discount, "the main reason for high inflation is still price rises for energy products," said Georg Thiel, president of Destatis.
Prices for energy products in July were up 35.5 percent year-on-year, with heating oil prices more than doubling, Destatis said. Meanwhile, prices for natural gas rose 75.1 percent.
To prepare for the coming winter, the German government has taken measures to fill gas storage facilities. To reduce gas consumption, hard coal-fired power plants were given permission to operate again in order to replace natural gas consumption in power generation.
Germany is the only industrialized country to phase out coal and nuclear energy. All coal plants are to be taken off the grid by 2030, and the country's last nuclear plants are still scheduled to be shut down permanently by the end of 2022 at the latest.
Scholz said it is currently being discussed "whether it makes sense and is necessary to keep the three existing nuclear power plants running a little longer." Nevertheless, he added that saving energy will remain necessary. ■