German students call on government to ‘deliver’ on €200 energy payout

The German Student Union has responded with frustration at the lack of a clear deadline for the €200 energy payment promised by the government last year.

Students lecture hall
A student takes notes on their reading material in a lecture hall in Bremen. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Sina Schuldt

Matthias Anbuhl, chairman of the board of the Studierendenwerk (Students’ Union), told the Stuttgarter Zeitung on Friday that ministers needed to finally “deliver” on the long-delayed payout for students and trainees. 

In September, the federal government had signaled that students would be getting a €200 payout as part of a wider relief package to help people with rising costs. 

READ ALSO: Why students in Germany are still waiting for €200 energy payout

“They haven’t received anything yet, although they now have the higher costs for gas and electricity,” Anbuhl added.

Warning politicians to be clear about when the energy payment would arrive, Anbuhl said the long delays in rolling out the payment risked gambling away students’ trust. 

‘Home stretch’

According to Federal Education Minister Bettina Stark-Watzinger (FDP), students in Germany shouldn’t have to wait too much longer to get a boost. 

“We are entering the home stretch on this,” the FDP politician told DPA on Wednesday. A spokesperson for the ministry did not want to give a concrete date for the start of the payments, but Stark-Watzinger has previously said it would happen in winter. 

The major issue in delivering the relief payments has been the lack of a central database that records the bank account details of students. The federal government and the states are now trying to bring this data together on a joint online platform so that the money can be applied for centrally there.

READ ALSO: What students in Germany should know about the €200 energy payout

However, the opposition Left Party slammed the government for the lengthy delays and the fact that students were therefore unable to plan financially. 

“What Education Minister Stark-Watzinger and her ministry are doing here is simply embarrassing,” the party’s co-chair, Janine Wissler, told DPA. 

The enormously high gas and electricity bills were no trifling matter, she said, adding that many were in urgent need of payment.

“She must now clarify whether the end of winter means the calendar winter, the meteorological winter or simply a ministerial winter,” said Wissler. 

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Which cities have the cheapest – and most expensive – Döner kebabs in Germany?

A lethal combination of high costs and new wage legislation means that the once humble Döner has almost become a luxury product. But where can you still find Germany's favourite fast food at bargain prices - and where won't you get much change for a tenner?

Which cities have the cheapest - and most expensive - Döner kebabs in Germany?

In modern day Berlin, where tech start-ups and luxury flats are a dime-a-dozen, there’s always a fair bit of nostalgia for the halcyon days of yore. For some, this dates back to the mystical time you could apparently nab yourself a three-bed Altbau apartment in Prenzlauer Berg for €200 warm, for others it’s the era of 24-hour Eckkneipen with €2 beer on tap, and for many, it’s that long-lost time where you could reliably find a Döner for €3 or less. 

What separates out these nostalgic fantasies is the fact that, unlike the mythical Prenzlauer Berg flat, the legend of the €3 Döner kebab is actually in most Berliners’ living memory. It’s shorthand for a simpler time before gentrification had fully run its course, when it didn’t matter if the flat you moved into didn’t have a kitchen because eating out was almost as cheap as cooking at home. And not too long ago, it was a reality.

While the price of kebabs in the ‘Döner capital’ have been climbing steadily for years, in the past year or so, the price hikes have been dramatic. Nowadays it’s not rare to shell out at least €6 or €7 for your kebab – even at the neighbourhood joints that were known for being cheap.

But the problem isn’t just confined to Berlin. As a recent survey by delivery company Lieferando has shown, Germany’s most popular fast food option is soaring in price across the country.

READ ALSO: How the humble Döner kebab evolved into Berlin’s go-to fast food snack

Why are Döners so expensive these days? 

Döner shop owners are facing a perfect storm right now, with much higher wage, energy, and food costs.

Speaking to Tagesschau, Ömer Gülec – who runs a kebab shop in Frankfurt am Main – said it was increasingly difficult to cover his costs by selling kebabs.

“If we wanted to sell the kebab to cover costs, we would have to raise the prices to at least nine euros,” he said. But that’s near impossible to do without alienating customers.

“For some customers, the döner kebab is a basic food that should not cost more than six euros,” explained Gülec.

That’s largely because food has become eye-wateringly expensive to buy, with data from the Federal Office of Statistics showing a 24.3 percent uptick in the price of cereal and bread products compared to last February. Meanwhile, vegetables cost around 20 percent more, and beef and veal have increased in price by around 18 percent. 

Another key factor was last September’s jump in the minimum wage, which is now set at €12 an hour, and the huge rise in energy costs. In every kebab shop around the country, the meat spit turns all day long, leaving owners with sky-high bills. 

Combine all three and it makes it near impossible to charge anything less than €6 – let alone €3. 

Which cities are the cheapest – and which are the priciest? 

Lieferando’s ‘Döner-Vergleich’ (Döner comparison) found pretty significant regional differences in how much people are charged for their kebab – but the study also shows that a Döner under €6 has become something of a rarity anywhere.

Dresden and Bremen kept their earlier titles as the more affordable places in the country to enjoy a kebab, with customers in Saxony’s capital paying an average of €6.40 and those in the northern city-state paying €6.17. But a glance at a previous Lieferando survey shows just how much prices have gone up in the past year. Back in 2022, the average price of a Döner in Bremen was just €4.67 and in Dresden it was €4.96.

Döner kebab prices in Berlin

A menu outside a kebab shop in the Berlin district of Prenzlauer Berg back in 2022. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Fabian Sommer

On the other end of the spectrum, residents of Frankfurt am Main buy their kebabs from an average price of €7.80, and in pricey Munich, €7.98 is the new norm. That compares to a much more modest €5.47 in Frankfurt and €5.67 in Munich at the time of the last survey. 

And what about Berlin, the city that has arguably the strongest love affair with the kebab? Well, customers here also have to dig pretty deep in their pockets: they’re paying an average of €7.08 for a Döner, compared to around €5.40 last year.

READ ALSO: As supplier costs rise, are cheap kebabs a thing of the past in Germany?

Could €10 kebabs become the norm? 

When it comes to subjects that are likely to rile up the German population, few have quite the force that Döner prices do. 

Back in October, a video of Chancellor Olaf Scholz (SPD) being confronted by a furious Döner customer went viral online. 

The plight of the Döner has become such an emotive issue that there have been calls on social media platforms recently for a ‘Dönerpreisbremse’ – or Döner price cap – to follow on from the government’s energy price cap.

The pleas gained such momentum that they even elicited an official response from the government.

“With the energy price brakes, the federal government is also helping small entrepreneurs like the kebab trader,” they said. “Will it make kebabs cheaper? That can’t be said for sure yet.”

But according to Ömer Gülec in Frankfurt, the halcyon days of €3 kebabs are probably behind us for good.

“If the prices continue to rise so strongly for at least another six months, then the kebab prices will scratch the €10 mark everywhere,” he told Tagesschau.

Soon, a Döner for less than five euros could even be hard – if not impossible – to find.