Angela Merkel 'stuck to EU rules' on vaccine rollout says expert
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After nine hours of tough negotiations, all parties agreed to relax some lockdown measures but the meeting was hit by bizarre heated arguments. The leader of Bavaria, Markus Soder, lashed out at the Federal Finance Minister saying he does not need to “grin like a Smurf”.
Mr Soder said: “I don’t know what you had to drink, but you are not Chancellor here.
“You are not the King of Germany or the ruler of the world.”
“You don’t need to grin like a smurf.”
But now, Mr Scholz has welcomed the insult saying Smurfs are “small, cunning and always win”.
He said: “I really like that with the Smurfs.
“They are small, cunning and always wins.”
Mr Soder, leader of the Christian Social Union party (CSU) and Mr Scholz, vice-chancellor and leader of the Social Democratic Party of Germany, clashed over federal states’ contributions to funds for the self-employed and small business leaders.
According to German newspaper Tagesspiegel, Mr Scholz only wanted to agree to partial contributions.
After the clash, the two politicians spoke to each other and everything is fine now.
The CSU leader said: “I don’t want to say we are one heart and one soul, but everything is fine now.”
This comes as the German Chancellor and the regional leaders have faced growing pressure to set out plans to restore normal activities after four months of lockdown.
The hardship fund goes back to Federal Minister of Economics Peter Altmaier (CDU).
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It is intended to help companies that do not exactly meet the previous auxiliary criteria or where special conditions in certain industries are not recorded.
But according to Mr Scholz, a supplementary budget will be necessary this year due to the coronavirus pandemic despite the high level of new borrowing.
In order to counteract the pandemic for as long as necessary, the SPD candidate for chancellor reassured the public they are “able to do this”.
In a Bloomberg interview, Mr Scholz previously said: “We will take extra measures, that is true, and we are able to do so.”
The SPD have continuously suggested the new debt of 180 billion euros planned for this year would not be enough.
According to reports, almost two out of five euros the federal government spends in financed by loans.
Last year, the government borrowed 130 billion euros and economic aid as well as vaccination costs and rapid testing is likely to exceed the debt limit again.
This month, Mr Scholz is set to present the key figures for 2022 and present medium-term financial planning to the cabinet and the budget committee.
While Germany managed to curb the spread of the virus during the first wave, daily cases are continuing to rise and only around five percent of the population have received the first vaccine dose.
Ms Merkel told reporters on Wednesday: “We are at the threshold of a new phase of the pandemic that we can go into not carelessly but still with justified hope.”
She too described the negotiations with the regional chiefs as “tough”.
Germany currently only allows the AstraZeneca vaccine to be given to people aged 18 to 64, which has led to a low take-up of available doses, slowing vaccination efforts.
Additional reporting by Monika Pallenberg
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