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Ministers face stricter rules over lobbyist jobs

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Ministers face stricter rules over lobbyist jobs
Ronald Pofalla. Photo: DPA
12:38 CET+01:00
Government ministers could be barred from taking up lobbying jobs for a year after leaving office. It comes after one of Chancellor Angela Merkel's closest allies caused controversy over a private sector post.

Merkel’s former chief of staff, Ronald Pofalla, announced at the start of January he would take up a lobbyist role at Germany’s rail company Deutsche Bahn. Weeks earlier he said he was quitting politics to spend more time with his family.

The criticism caused by his announcement has put Pofalla’s future role at Deutsche Bahn in doubt and on Friday the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (FAZ) cited government sources claiming a new law would be drawn up to stop former ministers joining the private sector as lobbyists immediately after leaving office.

In a debate in the German parliament, the Bundestag on Thursday, coalition government politicians ruled out changing the law, as demanded by the opposition Green Party and far-left party Die Linke.

The government had originally decided on Tuesday it was enough for ministers to have a “self-binding” agreement with a cabinet committee which would rule whether a job was appropriate or not.

But the FAZ said that policy is set to change and stricter rules will be introduced to stop the “revolving doors“ between government and private firms. 

A junior minister from Merkel's party, Eckart von Klaeden, unleashed a storm of protest in May 2013 when he accepted a lobbying job from industrial group Daimler.

And former chancellor Gerhard Schröder took a senior position with Russian energy giant Gazprom within days of leaving office, having only recently given permission for a gas pipeline linking Russia and Germany.

Government lawyers suggested that a bill should be submitted to adopt regulations, the FAZ said, although no details were given of how a new law would work.

Thomas Oppermann, from the Social Democrats (SPD), told the Rheinische Post on Friday his party wanted the ban on ministers taking new jobs to be 18 months.

But he said the SPD's coalition partners - Merkel’s conservatives - were pushing for a shorter time period, with 12 months seen as the most likely compromise.

READ MORE: Train job for Merkel ally turns to satire

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