Schroeder (78), chancellor of Germany from 1998 to 2005, has had good relations with Russia since his exit from German politics. He holds several management positions in major Russian gas and oil companies, such as Rosneft and Gazprom, and maintains a good relationship with President Vladimir Putin. Despite the Russian invasion of Ukraine, Schroeder refused to distance himself from Putin’s aggression and abandon his duties to Russian companies.
Schroeder has been criticized in Germany for this. The pressure on him has increased recently. For example, four Schroeder employees resigned because of his stance on Russian aggression. Borussia Dortmund Football Club stripped him of honorary membership. A photo of the former Hall of Fame counselor was snapped online for his SPD party. Meanwhile, the party initiated a procedure to permanently disqualify him from membership.
At the beginning of March, current chancellor and SPD member Olaf Schulz urgently advised Schroeder to distance himself from Putin and resign from his positions with Russian companies. Since then, there has been discussion within the ruling coalition about repealing the Schroeder concessions. So the parties have now agreed that the former chancellor should give up his state-paid staff and his office in the Bundestag. Last year, Schroeder paid €400,000 for his employees’ salaries.
The opposition party CDU/CSU had pushed for more far-reaching measures and also wanted Schroeder’s pension to be abolished. The coalition does not want to go along with it because such an intervention would be against the German constitution. The former advisor also keeps his bodyguards.
The privileges of the former advisor have not been (partially) revoked before. So the alliance procedure is very sensitive in Germany. In order to legally cover the decision, the coalition parties want to modify the arrangement so that the former advisers do not automatically receive the privileges but only if they did work related to their previous position. It is not yet clear exactly what activities fall under this. This means that the rules will also apply to other former chancellors, such as Angela Merkel, who resigned last year.
Although there appears to be broad political support for the decision, there is a chance that it will not be possible to limit Schroeder’s privileges. For example, much remains unclear from a legal point of view and a former counsel may still be able to challenge the decision through the courts. It is not known if he intended to do so.
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