Olaf Scholz also accompanies the Schröder case to the Netherlands. When he was asked in the presence of Prime Minister Mark Rutte what he thought of the Bundestag cutting the funds for the office and staff of the former SPD chancellor, he said: “The decision with regard to the former chancellor is logical.” It was ultimately also prepared in the Chancellery.
When asked whether he was in favor of Schröder also being included on the Russia sanctions list, as requested by the EU Parliament, the Chancellor replied in The Hague: “That is the decision that is necessary now, I think there are more not for necessary.” What is important: EU sanctions would have to agree to all member states – including Germany. So that means: Losing most of the former chancellor’s privileges, yes, but no EU sanctions – which could lead to travel restrictions and the freezing of assets.
But Scholz is something important, he says he wants to make that clear again here in The Hague in front of an international audience. “It would be best if Gerhard Schröder resigned from his post.”
What is meant are the supervisory board mandates at Nord Stream and at Rosneft. In June he was actually supposed to move up to the Gazprom supervisory board. To date, he has not really distanced himself from Vladimir Putin, despite the war of aggression against Ukraine. In the SPD, therefore, a party order procedure against Schröder is running with the aim of his exclusion.
The Bundestag had previously decided in the adjustment session of the budget committee, which tightens the budget for the current year and therefore also about the further equipment for former Chancellor Gerhard Schröder, that the 78-year-old will be deprived of some of his special rights as a former head of government in Germany.
According to Tagesspiegel information from the budget committee, the committee decided to wind down its office accordingly. For legal reasons, this is not justified with the Russian activities, but with the fact that Schröder obviously no longer performs former chancellor tasks.
The remaining staff should take on other tasks, according to an application by the traffic light coalition, which found a majority in the committee, but his employees had already resigned anyway.
However, the former chancellor is still entitled to a pension and personal protection. The Union would have liked to have canceled the SPD politician’s pension as well. Among other things, she accused Schröder of damaging Germany’s international reputation. Schröder was Chancellor from 1998 to 2005.
It seems like a footnote for the individual plan 04 Federal Chancellery (Chapter 0412), but it is a turning point that also manifests the SPD’s break with its former Chancellor Gerhard Schröder. “The Budget Committee notes that former Chancellor Schröder no longer has any ongoing obligations from office. The office of former Chancellor Schröder is therefore suspended,” said the corresponding motion by the traffic light groups of the SPD, Greens and FDP. After previous taxpayer costs of around 418,000 euros a year, Schröder’s offices and employees are being withdrawn, as expected, because of his activities in Russia and the failure to break with Vladimir Putin. First of all, because of the emotional debates about Schröder, a case-by-case decision will be made, but as reported, the traffic light is also working on a fundamental reform, which will then be launched. “In the future, the equipment for former chancellors should no longer be status-related, but based on the ongoing obligations from the office,” emphasize the responsible budget holders.
Former Chancellor Angela Merkel (CDU) will initially keep her nine posts, including two highly paid B6 posts, but the aim of the reform is to reduce the equipment and thus the costs for taxpayers as the time between the end of office and the corresponding reduction in public tasks increases should be.
Only a few months ago, the CDU politician was granted nine employees with salaries of up to 10,000 euros. That’s two more employees than Schröder had after his chancellorship in 2005.
In Schröder’s case, the five positions previously assigned to his office should not be filled after May 19, 2022, but his employees had already resigned anyway. “The requirements resulting from the security assessment of the BKA remain unaffected by this decision,” the decision emphasizes.
The Budget Committee is also calling on the Federal Chancellery to “ensure that the files of the former Chancellor’s office continue to be managed in accordance with the federal guidelines”. This also includes the regulations on storage and the obligation to offer the data to the Federal Archives. With regard to the tax-financed continued payment of the pension, the parliamentary manager of the SPD parliamentary group, Katja Mast, emphasized that the salary is about property rights. “That’s why it’s highly questionable constitutionally.”
Until now, former chancellors have been entitled to a pension that depends on their term of office, as well as an office with several employees for life, a driver and reimbursement of travel expenses. Now, however, the traffic light coalition is generally reorganizing the alimony of former Chancellors and Federal Presidents and making it dependent on whether the former top politicians actually still take on tasks, such as having patronage and giving speeches.
Before the decision of the Budget Committee, the European Parliament had voted in favor of EU sanctions against the former Chancellor by a large majority. Here, too, the reason is the ongoing activity of the SPD politician for Russian state-owned companies, as emerges from a resolution passed in Brussels on Thursday.
The step is likely to increase the pressure on the responsible EU Commission President, Ursula von der Leyen, and the Foreign Affairs Representative, Josep Borrell, to submit a proposal for Schröder’s inclusion on the EU sanctions list – but Chancellor Scholz’s federal government has so far rejected this.
If this is then accepted, Schröder’s existing assets in the EU could be frozen. The text of the European Parliament now calls on the EU states to “extend the list of people against whom EU sanctions have been imposed to include European board members of large Russian companies and politicians who continue to receive money from Russia “. Parliament named former EU heads of government such as Wolfgang Bowl (Austria) and François Fillon (France), who recently resigned from their posts at Russian companies. They demand “emphatically that other politicians, such as Karin Kneissl and Gerhard Schröder, do the same”. Kneissl is a non-party former foreign minister of Austria and a member of the Rosneft supervisory board.