Germany’s Scholz says he will maintain social agenda in budget deal By Reuters

FRANKFURT (Reuters) – Germany’s coalition government will stick to its social agenda and address military aid to Ukraine in budget talks due to end next month, Chancellor Olaf Scholz said in a television interview on Sunday.

“We will protect the welfare state and develop it further,” the head of Europe’s largest economy told public broadcaster ARD.

Germany’s tripartite alliance is leading the talks, which Scholz said would be completed by July 3, ahead of the July 9 NATO summit.

“I am confident that we will be able to pass the budget in July,” he said during the ARD summer interview series with politicians.

The left-wing Social Democrats (SPD), the pro-business Liberals (FDP) and the ecologist Greens are bargaining over issues such as welfare benefits and funding for new housing, while adhering to self-imposed rules that limit the amount of state borrowing.

Asked if it would be appropriate to support Ukraine given its tight domestic budget situation, Scholz said: “In my view, there is no choice but to make a change.”

“I have always advocated prudence and said that we must use every opportunity to make a peaceful development possible, which does not involve the surrender of Ukraine.”

Scholz also said that a tough stance would be taken against people receiving social benefits who refuse to work, and those who are receiving benefits but working illegally.

The allegation that their numbers are increasing has been part of populist criticism of the government.

In European Parliament elections earlier this month, the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) won 16% of the vote and came in second behind the opposition Christian Democrats, while support for Scholz’s SPD fell to 13.9%, its worst result in post-war Germany.

“We have to make sure that anyone who can do the job, doesn’t do the job,” Scholz said.


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