Role of State Secretary Philipp
Habeck wants politics “not only in his own juice”
May 24, 2023 at 5:31 p.m
In May, Habeck is already being questioned in the Bundestag about his top employee Graichen, who ultimately has to go. Now follows a questioning of State Secretary Philipp. The Economics Minister is open to stricter rules, but also emphasizes the value of business people.
Federal Minister of Economics Robert Habeck has shown himself open to tightening the transparency rules for the federal government. His own ministry is working along the applicable guidelines, said the Green politician at a joint meeting of the Bundestag committees for business, climate protection and energy. Currently, these rules state that official actions must not be guided by private interests. It is not forbidden to get involved as a civil servant in funds or companies.
However, one must be aware that political decisions always influence economic prospects, said Habeck. “Let’s talk about tightening the rules – but then for everyone.” In contrast to the first survey two weeks ago, the hearing took place in public. It was almost exclusively about the role of State Secretary for Economic Affairs Udo Philipp from the Greens. He helped appoint a fund founder with whom he has a business relationship to a ministry advisory board.
The question rules that had been decided in both committees caused anger. “By doing so, you curtail parliamentary rights,” the CDU MP Andreas Jung accused the representatives of the traffic light groups SPD, Greens and FDP. The chairman of the Economic Committee, Michael Grosse-Brömer from the CDU, had previously stated that each parliamentary group should only have one minute to ask questions in each round. In addition, questions should be collected and then answered together, said the chairman of the energy committee, Klaus Ernst from the left. With four laps there was a total of 75 percent less time than two weeks ago, Jung complained.
Traffic light representatives made a different calculation: Unlike the previous time, the time limit of four minutes per round of questions only applied to the questions themselves, so answers could have been longer, said Reinhard Houben from the FDP. The mood during the hearing was tense. The deputy chairwoman of the CDU/CSU parliamentary group, Julia Klöckner, repeatedly accused Habeck and Philipp of not having answered questions.
The conclusion was different. He wonders “whether this coalition is interested in transparency and clarification at all,” said Leif-Erik Holm from the AfD. “For compliance reasons, it is not possible for a state secretary to send someone to an advisory board in the Ministry of Economics, who can of course use this as a door opener.” The left-wing politician Pascal Meiser criticized: “The core issue is still whether State Secretary Philipp benefited directly or indirectly from the decisions of the Ministry of Economic Affairs or not.”
The FDP was satisfied: “From our point of view, he gave satisfactory answers to all questions,” said Houben about Philipp. Andreas Audretsch, von Habeck’s Greens colleague and deputy parliamentary group leader of the party in the Bundestag, explained via Twitter: “Today’s committee meeting shows: Udo Phillip has exceeded the compliance rules of the federal government.” All questions were answered comprehensively in the committee meeting.
Habeck said he thinks it’s right if politics “doesn’t just swim in its own juice”. Knowledge of companies, medium-sized companies and the start-up scene could help. It is a fundamental question whether people who have worked in business should also be able to contribute their knowledge to politics. “I would say yes,” said Habeck. Philipp himself sees no problem in his investments and his investments in funds. “I don’t see where a company in which I have a direct interest should benefit from my actions.” It is normal for people to have funds. He is convinced that this is also the case for employees in other ministries.
Habeck defended the appointment of fund founder Sebastian Böhmer to the “Young Digital Economy” advisory board. “We have not found this expertise anywhere else.” Boehmer has rare experience of starting a venture capital fund while still a student. Philipp asserted: “I’m not friends with Mr. Böhmer.”
Habeck has been criticized for a few weeks when it comes to personnel decisions. He was initially criticized for the wrong decisions made by his top employee Patrick Graichen, who is said to have mixed up work and private life too much. Graichen is to be placed on temporary retirement, his successor as State Secretary will be the Green politician Philipp Nimmermann. Habeck had already been asked about Graichen in a committee about two weeks ago.