Former Chancellor Schröder has been criticized for his contacts with Russian corporations and Vladimir Putin since the start of the Ukraine war. Now the Budget Committee of the Bundestag is cutting his office. However, Schröder's connections to Russia are not cited as a reason.
The Bundestag has withdrawn some of the special rights of former Chancellor Gerhard Schröder as the former head of government in Germany. The budget committee decided to close its office, according to committee circles. The remaining staff should take on other tasks, according to a motion by the traffic light coalition, which found a majority in the committee. 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 has been heavily criticized for his contacts in Russia, his closeness to Russian President Vladimir Putin and his posts in Russian state-owned companies.
The 78-year-old was Chancellor from 1998 to 2005. He then took on tasks for the pipeline company Nord Stream, Russia's Gazprom and the energy company Rosneft, among others. Because he did not distance himself from this after the start of the Russian war of aggression in Ukraine, the SPD leadership asked him to leave the party. There are also motions for expulsion from the party.
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 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.
Schröder's connections to Russian corporations or Putin are not mentioned in the motion approved by the budget committee. The background is the fear that this would be legally vulnerable. We don't want the impression that the former chancellor is being punished for a controversial opinion.
The decision could also have an impact on ex-Chancellor Angela Merkel. The CDU politician also has an office and only a few months ago was given nine employees with salaries of up to 10,000 euros. That's two more employees than Schröder had after his chancellorship in 2005.
Before the Budget Committee's decision, the European Parliament had voted in favor of EU sanctions against the former Chancellor by a large majority. 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. If this is then accepted, Schröder's existing assets in the EU could be frozen.