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‘Gambled away trust’: German industry blasts Merkel coalition

German Chancellor Angela Merkel suffered a broadside from a powerful industry federation on Tuesday, adding to the woes of her coalition government already mired in crisis.

'Gambled away trust': German industry blasts Merkel coalition
Dieter Kempf, head of the Federation of German Industry, speaking at an industry conference on Tuesday. Photo: DPA

German Chancellor Angela Merkel suffered a broadside from a powerful industry federation on Tuesday, adding to the woes of her coalition government already mired in crisis.

The “grand coalition” of Merkel's conservative CDU and the centre-left SPD “has gambled away a large share of the trust… placed in it,” Dieter Kempf, head of the Federation of German Industry (BDI) told a Berlin conference.

Instead of action, the government stood for “faint-hearted implementation of piecemeal social policies and an unhealthy level of redistribution,” Kempf added.

He pointed to last month's European elections, which saw the two traditional mass parties punished by voters and the rise of environmentalist Greens, who doubled their share from the last EU polls to just over 20 percent.

SEE ALSO: Greens surge amid heavy losses for Germany's ruling parties in EU elections

“The coalition has lost a lot of people's support, including from business and the younger generation,” Kempf expanded in a statement.

While the BDI boss repeated longstanding calls for tax cuts to increase German competitiveness, he said “companies are waiting for answers” especially on climate policy.

Successive Merkel governments have struggled to balance a planned withdrawal from nuclear power by 2022 with winding down the use of fossil fuels like coal and building up a new electricity infrastructure.

Merkel — in office since 2005 — is battling to hold her coalition together after SPD leader Andrea Nahles unexpectedly quit on Sunday, opening questions over whether the centre-left will continue propping up the chancellor.

SEE ALSO: Crisis talks as Merkel's coalition suffers new blow

But Germany's leader did not shrink from firing a salvo of her own back at the car industry as she followed Kempf at the podium.

Since the coalition was formed in March 2018 “I haven't counted up how many hours I've spent on the loss of trust in the car industry” over harmful emissions from diesel engines, Merkel said.

“We have a joint responsibility. Trust in the federal government is important, but trust in industry is also important,” she added.

“We can only manage this together.”

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POLITICS

Ex-chancellor Schröder sues German Bundestag for removing perks

Former Chancellor Gerhard Schröder has sued the German parliament for removing some of his official post-retirement perks over his links to Russian energy giants, his lawyer said Friday.

Ex-chancellor Schröder sues German Bundestag for removing perks

Schröder, 78, has come under heavy criticism for his proximity to Russian President Vladimir Putin and involvement with state-backed energy companies.

The decision to suspend Schröder’s taxpayer-funded office and staff in May was “contrary to the rule of law”, Michael Nagel, told public broadcaster NDR.

Schröder “heard of everything through the media”, Nagel said, noting that the Social Democrat had asked for a hearing before the budget committee responsible but was not given the chance to express himself.

READ ALSO: Germany strips Schröder of official perks over Russia ties

Schröder’s lawyers filed the complaint with an administrative Berlin court, a spokesman for the court confirmed.

In its decision to strip him of the perks, the committee concluded that Schröder, who served as chancellor from 1998 to 2005, “no longer upholds the continuing obligations of his office”.

Most of Schröder’s office staff had already quit before the final ruling was made.

Despite resigning from the board of Russian oil company Rosneft and turning down a post on the supervisory board of gas giant Gazprom in May, Schröder has maintained close ties with the Kremlin.

The former chancellor met Putin in July, after which he said Moscow was ready for a “negotiated solution” to the war in Ukraine — comments branded as “disgusting” by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.

Last week, the Social Democrats concluded that Schröder would be allowed to remain a member after he was found not have breached party rules over his ties to the Russian President.

Schröder’s stance on the war and solo diplomacy has made him an embarrassment to the SPD, which is also the party of current Chancellor Olaf Scholz.

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