1. Skip to content
  2. Skip to main menu
  3. Skip to more DW sites

German Bundestag approves controversial diesel subsidy cuts

February 2, 2024

The measure, which has sparked massive protests from farmers, is part of the government's financial plans for 2024. Lawmakers have now finally approved the national budget after a monthslong delay.

Germany's Bundestag holds session amid vote on 2024 budget
The vote on the spending plans follows months of deliberationImage: Ann-Marie Utz/dpa/picture alliance

The German lower house of parliament, or Bundestag, approved the controversial rolling back of tax relief for diesel use by the German agricultural industry on Friday as part of the government's spending plans. 

Later on Friday, the Bundestag also voted in favor of a 2024 budget after much delay. 

The budget of around €477 billion ($519 billion) will include €39 billion in new borrowing.

What's the significance of rolling back the diesel subsidies? 

This proposal has angered German farmers, leading to nationwide protests in recent weeks. In Berlin, for example, some 10,000 farmers recently clogged the streets with their tractors, urging the government reverse its plans on diesel tax subsidies.   

German farmers vow to fight on after week of protest

The budget financing law was put forward by the current governing coalition of the center-left Social Democratic Party (SPD), environmentalist Greens and business-focused Free Democratic Party (FDP).   

Other measures passed Friday as part of the plan include higher air traffic taxes and new rules on financial support for families.  

In order for the law to be enacted, it will need to be approved by the Bundesrat, which represents Germany's 16 federal states. German Farmers' Association chief Joachim Rukwied suggested Thursday that the Bundesrat could put a stop to the law. 

Why was the 2024 budget delayed?

The German government's spending plans were first derailed in November, after the German Constitutional Court ruled that the coalition may not reappropriate €60 billion in unused credit made available during the COVID pandemic to a climate fund.  

German government rushes to slash budget after court ruling

This ruling left the coalition in disarray, with member parties forced back to the drawing board regarding the country's financial plans.

The three parties could not agree on cuts to the budget after the court decision, with the FDP having a different approach to debt than its two partners. The SPD and Greens seek to take on more debt to boost the country's infrastructure, build more housing and tackle climate change, whereas the FDP wants to strictly adhere to constitutional debt limits

wd/rt (AFP, dpa)   

While you're here: Every Tuesday, DW editors round up what is happening in German politics and society. You can sign up here for the weekly email newsletter Berlin Briefing.