New government: How powerful will the construction ministry be??
The Social Democrat is set to become minister of construction.
Berlin Construction and housing policy will in future be part of an independent federal ministry led by the SPD. A revaluation, was the quick analysis of many experts. After all, the construction and housing sector has been little more than an appendage of other ministries in recent years, most recently the Interior Ministry under Horst Seehofer (CSU).
But the SPD, the Greens and the Liberals are still fighting over the exact allocation of the portfolio. It depends on how powerful the new ministry will be, how much budget it will get and how much political power it will have.
So it’s not enough to move the construction and home affairs department out of the future SPD-led interior ministry and into the new construction ministry. It is also questionable whether the SPD will succeed in having the designated Green Minister for Economic Affairs and Climate Change and Vice Chancellor Robert Habeck deliver areas from his house.
Where does energy policy land, where does rent regulation??
"Responsibilities for energy policy in the building sector should move to the new construction ministry," Lamia Messari-Becker, a civil engineer and professor at the University of Siegen, told Handelsblatt. "More climate protection in the building sector is one of the key challenges of the next few years. If the energy targets and the funding policy for this continue to be decided in the Ministry of Economics, then the new Ministry of Construction will immediately turn out to be a meaningless dwarf ministry," said the former member of the German Advisory Council on the Environment (SRU).
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The SPD runs the risk of the goal of the future traffic light government, in this legislative period 400.000 new affordable homes a year, from the outset – should key decisions be made in another house that could make building more expensive, Messari-Becker continued.
Social Democrats know this, but they are playing coy. One does not want to interfere the Minister, one says reservedly in the parliamentary group. The message would be clear: If the SPD demands areas that it later does not get, the designated Minister of Construction and Housing Klara Geywitz stands damaged from the start.
In addition, there are further open questions: Will the Ministry of Justice hand over the lead on rent regulation?? Or even the Ministry of Transport the responsibilities for digitization, if not for civil engineering? The Ministry of Finance the responsibility in the topic of property promotion?
All three ministries will be FDP-led in the future – and the liberals skeptical. "The structure of the new construction ministry needs to be carefully weighed up," Daniel Fost, housing and construction expert for the FDP, told the Handelsblatt newspaper. "A powerful superstructure is needed to implement the ambitious goals of our construction offensive. But I think it’s difficult to take individual issues out of existing portfolios – such as tenancy law – without context."
Housing industry urges reduction of bureaucracy
Like the scientist Messari-Becker, the housing industry is also calling for construction and housing policy issues to be bundled in the newly created ministry. "In our view, the future Ministry of Construction should in any case also combine the topics of urban and regional development, rural areas and regional planning under one roof," Axel Gedaschko, President of the German Housing Association (GdW), told the Handelsblatt newspaper.
Existing inequalities and structural differences between urban and rural areas, but also between structurally poor and structurally rich regions, could only be eliminated on the basis of coordinated regional planning and an all-German support system.
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This means that, for example, the responsibility for rural areas would have to be transferred from the Ministry of Agriculture to the Ministry of Construction. In addition, the GdW demands that the topics of heat and efficiency in buildings, as well as energy research and heat transition, be moved from the Ministry of Economics to the Ministry of Construction. The tasks relating to the digitization of the construction industry are to be transferred from the Ministry of Transport.
With such a cut, Gedaschko said, the new ministry would also make a significant contribution to reducing bureaucracy. The minister would be "gladly supported in all technical matters, also with regard to the division of the portfolio".
Future Minister of Construction Geywitz speaks of "huge task"
The designated Minister of Construction Geywitz, born in 1976 in Potsdam, is so far rather unknown in federal politics, but belonged for many years to the Brandenburg state parliament. Two years ago, the future chancellor Olaf Scholz had unsuccessfully applied with her for the SPD party chairmanship. In the meantime, Geywitz is party leader.
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"The task is huge," she said herself on Monday, when she was presented by Scholz as Minister of Construction. "But it’s a task that I’m very much looking forward to." The apartments – from the 400.000 new apartments are to be built 100.000 be socially promoted – would be needed now. And she noted that in the future, energy-saving and climate-friendly construction would also be required.
The Federal Chamber of Architects called for a rapid establishment of working structures to initiate a building turnaround. In the coming months, it said, "decisive course" is necessary, for example, in affordable housing, rural areas and inner cities.
Jurgen Michael Schick, President of the German Real Estate Association (IVD), warned against watering cans being used to designate new development areas in order to reach the target of 400.000 homes to be targeted. New construction should focus on regions that continue to experience high influxes and corresponding housing shortages. In rural areas and structurally weaker regions, one should instead prioritize the building stock and the conversion of vacant commercial spaces into housing.