Federal Cabinet sets “Aufbauhilfe 2021” in motion
Considerable efforts will be required for reconstruction following the flooding catastrophe in July. The Federal Cabinet laid the foundations for this today in their proposed wording for the “Aufbauhilfe 2021” bill. This proposed wording will support coalition partners in the German Bundestag with the introduction of a draft law for reconstruction aid.
The “Aufbauhilfe 2021” fund guarantees funding to restore infrastructure and for compensation schemes. Up to 30 billion euros are being provided from Federal Government funds for the special scheme. The Federal Chancellor, Angela Merkel, described the scope of the new assistance as “significantly higher than what we had after the last floods.” This flooding aid package follows the example of the aid provided by Federal and Länder governments following flooding in 2013, which amounted to eight billion euros of Federal Government funds.
16 billion euros are to be provided this year alone, of which 14 billion euros are allocated to reconstruction schemes in the federal states. Federal and Länder governments are contributing equally to the funding. The remaining two billion euros are allocated to reconstructing federal infrastructure, with funding coming from the Federal Government alone
All Federal States will contribute to the costs of reconstruction over a 30 year period between 2021 and 2050. This will come from a 233 million euro reduction in the fixed sum that each state receives annually from the Federal Government to states out of sales tax revenues. The reduction will be implemented through an amendment to the Fiscal Equalisation Law. Following the initial provision of 16 billion euros, subsequent funding will be delivered in the same way and the Fiscal Equalisation Law will be amended accordingly.
New rules on garnishment protection
The proposed wording also includes new rules protecting against garnishment of emergency flooding aid. This is to ensure that injured parties will receive their money even if bank accounts have been seized.
Cell broadcasts to warn the public
The Federal Cabinet’s proposed wording also sets legal provisions in motion that will improve warnings for the public in case of catastrophes. The intention is that operators of public mobile phone networks should be required to put technical and organisational provisions in place to provide cell broadcast technology. This technology makes it possible for all mobile phones connected to a mobile phone tower to receive a warning via text message.
Federal Minister of the Interior Horst Seehofer explained that cell broadcasts would supplement sirens, apps and radio. “Public warnings have to work across all channels. If you are woken during the night, you need to know immediately what has happened and how to respond.” Funding is to be provided from the Federal budget. The costs to network operators for creating this system are expected to amount to a one-off sum of up to 40 million euros with up to four million euros a year in running costs.
In order to facilitate the timely delivery of projects that have been impacted by the floods, funding through the Improving Investment in Communities Law has been extended by two years.
To allow the prompt erection of temporary shelters and infrastructure facilities such as town halls, schools and nurseries, alterations are also planned to the Building Code. Changes will be made to the Federal Highways Act and the General Railways Act for the rapid construction of replacement transport infrastructure.
There is to be a general exemption from planning approval processes for structural alterations or changes to a building’s exterior where these are required to increase resilience against future natural events.