The costs relate exclusively to the payment of the employees in Schroeders office. According to the answer, there were no expenses for material. According to the federal government, Schröder was assigned five permanent positions in 2021. A salary of B6 is planned for an office manager position, i.e. around 10,400 euros per month. Depending on their professional experience, the other employees earn between 13,700 and 19,400 euros a month.
As former chancellor, the former SPDboss, like previous federal presidents, has a right to an office.
For Schröder, the Union is now questioning this privilege. “The fact that the former Chancellor, in addition to his numerous economic activities at Russian companies, also receives money from the German treasury is unacceptable,” said the parliamentary director of the CSU in the Bundestag, Stefan Müller, the Handelsblatt.
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The Union parliamentary group manager Thorsten Frei (CDU) sees Chancellor Olaf Scholz (SPD) on the train. He “should urgently have a clarifying discussion with his predecessor Schröder,” Frei told the Handelsblatt. “After all, even a former chancellor is a representative of our state and has the responsibility to avert damage to our country.”
Schröder, who was Chancellor from 1998 to 2005 and is considered a long-time friend of Russian President Vladimir Putin, is the head of the supervisory board at the Russian state energy company Rosneft. He also holds senior management positions on the Nord Stream and North Stream 2. Schröder is also recently on the board of the Russian state gas company Gazprom been nominated.
Linke brings reimbursement of expenses into play
The former chancellor had recently caused a stir and anger in his own party with statements about the Ukraine crisis: For example, he had the demands of the Ukraine criticized as “saber rattling” after arms deliveries. Scholz later made it clear that Schröder did not speak for the federal government.
From the point of view of CSU-Politician Müller, Schröder’s behavior damages Germany’s reputation in the world. “He has made himself dependent on an autocrat and is openly acting as a political lobbyist for Russian interests in Germany,” said the deputy.
Müller spoke out in favor of developing cross-party rules for the business activities of former chancellors. “It must be clear that lobbying for foreign countries is in no way compatible with the office of a former chancellor,” said the CSU politician. “The previous provisions for the pension scheme are obviously not sufficient to prevent abuse of the kind Mr. Schröder is pursuing.”
Even the leftPolitician Ali Al-Dailami brought consequences into play. “Should it turn out that Schröder’s representation in Berlin is also involved in his lobbying activities, the 16-year history of the office should be examined and appropriate repayments sought,” the left-wing parliamentary group’s defense policy spokesman told the Handelsblatt. “This revolving door policy is also hardly compatible with basic democratic principles.”
Federal Audit Office for stricter rules
Al-Dailami pointed out that the Federal Court of Auditors has already criticized the pension scheme for former Chancellors. A report by the authority from 2018 states, for example, that the unlimited provision of “several chief drivers”, offices and employees should be fundamentally questioned. The former chancellors had recently “crossed borders”.
For the report between 2013 and 2015, the Federal Court of Auditors examined all state payments to former chancellors. The former chancellors “are no longer in an official or service relationship” but are “primarily pension recipients”.
The authority is particularly critical of the fact that taxpayers have to pay for the office and staff of former chancellors. Instead of using this “official equipment” to “handle previous tasks”, the ex-chancellor would organize private appointments from there or “lobby work for certain interest groups”, criticized the Federal Audit Office. As a consequence, the Court of Auditors called for strict rules on spending by former chancellors.
Since the former chancellors Helmut Schmidt (SPD) and Helmut Kohl (CDU) have already died, this demand currently also applies to Gerhard Schröder as well Angela Merkel (CDU).
The Budget Committee of the Bundestag decided in November 2021 that after her term in office, Merkel would be assigned an office with an office manager, deputy office manager, two specialists, three clerks and two drivers.
A salary of B6 is planned for the two management positions, i.e. around 10,400 euros per month. Depending on the employee’s professional experience, this could total between 46,000 and 56,000 euros per month.
Merkel will also get two more employees than former Chancellor Schröder had after his chancellorship in 2005 – and four more than he has today.