She could “well understand if people can only shake their heads at some pay packages which are completely out of proportion – and want that it stops,” Merkel told the Chemnitz-based Freie Presse newspaper.
“Excess cannot be [tolerated] in a free and socially-responsible society,” she said.
And, sounding more like a left-wing Social Democrat than a conservative in a coalition with the business-friendly Free Democratic Party, Merkel added she thought it was “very good” that the European Union was looking for ways to increase controls over manager remuneration.
The EU is working on proposals to enable shareholder meetings as well as supervisory boards to have a statutory say in managers’ pay packages.
This comes after the success of a popular initiative in Switzerland to introduce this tool to control excessive manager pay, which also prompted demands in Germany for a similar move.
“Sadly it has been shown that it is not enough to leave the matter to self-regulation of business alone,” Merkel told the Freie Presse. “Even though we here in Germany have a somewhat different situation due to the influence of workers [who have seats in supervisory boards], I am in favour of the topic being tackled on a European basis.”
The idea of a minimum wage was not as simple as setting a figure, she said, rejecting the €8.50 an hour across-the-board demand of the opposition Social Democratic Party.
She said people understood that such a unitary figure would not take account of differences between industries and regions.