9:35 p.m., April 16, 2022
Right in his boots, the Social Democratic Chancellor Olaf Scholz braces himself on his “no”. Germany does not expect to be able to do without Russian gas before mid-2024. Regardless of international pressure. In the Baltic States, it is former Lithuanian President Vytautas Landsbergis who urged him not to capitulate on Wednesday “Accomplice in War Crimes”. In the United States he is the editor of the New York Times Paul Krugman, who posed the question on April 7th: “Will Germany enable Putin’s war? » Germany spends an average of €400 million every day to meet its energy needs, and 65% of the gas it consumes comes from Russia. Industry (36%) and households (30%) are the main beneficiaries. On Friday, Economics Minister and environmentalist Robert Habeck called on the Germans to surrender “Simple save energy, turn down the heat, close the curtains, piss off Putin”.
So is Europe’s largest economy so “addicted” to Russian raw materials that it can no longer do without them? “A stop to Russian gas supplies would have catastrophic consequences for industry in Germany”warns Werner Baumann, Vice President of the Chemical Association VCI and Bayer boss. “Products from the chemical industry can be found in almost every sector. Germany would face a huge wave of unemployment. » Based on these alarming statements, the head of the business-related institute IW announced in the Handelsblatt: “We would damage the core of the German economic model, and that is exactly what Putin wants. »
A 3% drop in GDP
Less disastrous, other estimates point to a 3% drop in GDP like during the pandemic. Claudia Kemfert, energy economist at the German Institute for Economic Research (DIW), who published a detailed study on the effects of an embargo by the Federal Republic on Russian gas at the end of March, also puts the outcry from industry circles into perspective. “We could do without Putin’s gas by increasing supplies from Norway or the Netherlands, she analyses. The German leaders have apologized and acknowledged their mistakes in this dependency, but I expect the same from the industrialists who got us into this untenable situation. »
The federal government is now demanding time to switch its energy sources, mentions the construction of specific terminals for self-sufficiency with liquefied natural gas and is considering the possibility of hydraulic fracturing for the exploration and extraction of shale gas. In the Chancellery, Olaf Scholz persists in his “Merkelian” attitude, which consists of silence and passivity. Much to the chagrin of his coalition partners, environmentalists and Liberals, upset by his hesitation. “The chancellor is the problem!” », openly criticized the Green Anton Hofreiter, chairman of the European Committee in the Bundestag, for whom Scholz spoke of a change of times, but did not draw sufficient conclusions from it. As with the suspension of the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline or the economic sanctions, it gives the impression of only acting under duress when there is no other option.
Also read – War in Ukraine: Société Générale ends its activities in Russia after long hesitation
What does public opinion say? Millions of Germans demonstrated against the war when asked “Freeze for Ukraine” or slacking off on the freeway, the trend varies from survey to survey. The most recent, that of the Allensbach Institute on April 13, indicates that 57% of respondents are against the boycott of Russian gas. At European level, too, many other countries are skeptical “but hide behind us”, reports the mirror. In the picture, according to the newspaper, of France “whose President Macron is publicly in favor of an embargo, but according to diplomats is not dissatisfied with the German resistance”. As if the presidential candidate didn’t need another hike in energy prices in the short term.