Berlin / Mainz (dpa) – The damage from the flood disaster is devastating, the costs are enormous – the money for this must come from a reconstruction fund. The federal and state governments decided on Tuesday to equip this large pot with 30 billion euros.
The “Development Aid 2021” fund is to be established as a federal special fund. It is estimated at EUR 28 billion for reconstruction in the affected countries alone. They are funded half by the federal government and half by the federal states. “This is a sign of solidarity across the country,” Chancellor Angela Merkel said after the deliberations.
The federal states have 30 years to pay off their share. The remaining two billion is damage to federal institutions that only the federal government pays, such as destroyed railroad bridges, railroads or highways.
Merkel said she welcomed the “great, great mutual willingness” in the federal state talks to “help the people affected by the devastation in this extraordinary situation”.
Germany, and in particular the states of Rhineland-Palatinate and North Rhine-Westphalia, have been hit by the effects of a flood in previously unknown ways, Merkel said. She praised the solidarity of the population: “We are infinitely grateful (…) that there has been such a broad willingness to help from the voluntary and private sectors that many, many volunteers are still active today.”
The unification is important news for the badly damaged and traumatized Ahr Valley in northern Rhineland-Palatinate. Prime Minister Malu Dreyer (SPD) had recently estimated the total damage including other flooding areas in the Trier area and in the Eifel at double-digit billions. Reconstruction, especially in the Ahr Valley, is likely to take years. According to Prime Minister Armin Laschet (CDU), the damage from the storm in North Rhine-Westphalia is more than 13 billion euros according to initial estimates.
A spokesman for the Rhineland-Palatinate State Chancellery in Mainz welcomed the agreement. “Every country is clear that there can be disasters that can overwhelm a country’s performance,” the spokesperson said. Rhineland-Palatinate once also deposited in building funds in other states after the flood of 2013.
The Association of Municipalities and Cities of Rhineland-Palatinate also evaluates the agreement positively, but also warns that an increase may be necessary: ”As the infrastructure has been completely destroyed, streets, paths, squares, kindergartens, schools, administrative buildings and facilities are networks are largely new and at least partially also need to be built in a new location, the dimensions may significantly exceed previous estimates.”
The Association of Towns and Municipalities in North Rhine-Westphalia is also positive: “The fact that the federal and state governments are launching an aid fund so quickly encourages the affected municipalities,” says director Christof Sommer. “Rebuilding the neighborhoods and infrastructure will take years and adaptation to climate change will require additional efforts.” Municipalities are all the more dependent on uncomplicated procedures when planning and receiving aid.
The National Development Aid Fund is set up as a so-called federal special fund. Federal special assets are separate parts of federal assets. They are intended solely for the fulfillment of individual limited federal duties. They are managed separately from other federal assets. An example is the special fund “Energy and Climate Fund”. According to the law, this allows additional spending to promote an environmentally friendly, reliable and affordable energy supply and climate protection. The expenditure of special funds is often estimated over several years. Under constitutional law, special federal funds are enshrined in Article 110 of the Basic Law.
Half of the reconstruction measures of the federal states are borne by the federal government and half by the federal states. The federal government pays, as it were, an advance. The federal states have 30 years to pay off their share. This should be done through sales tax by reducing the countries’ annual share of sales tax accordingly over 30 years.
A federal law is planned for the development fund. Merkel says a cabinet decision is scheduled for next week. According to information from the German news agency, the Bundestag is expected to meet on August 25 for a special session. The Federal Council must approve the fund.
According to data from the dpa, the development fund should technically be based on the post-flood fund in 2013. The fund financed aid to repair flood damage and rebuild devastated infrastructure. Funds flowed to damaged private households and businesses, provided the damage was not covered by insurance.