Berlin Finance Minister Christian Lindner (FDP) is reorganizing the top management of his house even more than previously known. After Lindner dismissed four department heads last week, another top official will soon be replaced: According to Handelsblatt information, State Secretary Carsten Pillath, who is responsible for Europe and the financial markets, will retire in the spring.
Pillath’s successor is apparently to be a top official from the Foreign Office. Who exactly is not yet known. The Ministry of Finance declined to comment on the process.
Lindner had also poached officials from other ministries for the previously announced changes: Two new department heads have been working in the Federal Ministry of Economics so far.
However, Pillath’s personnel is a special one: Lindner replaces officials with the department heads who held their posts before he took office. Pillath, on the other hand, was brought to Berlin by Lindner from Brussels over a year ago.
Before that, he was Director General for Economy and Competitiveness in the Secretariat of the EU Council of Ministers for many years. During the euro crisis, Pillath played an important role in negotiating the many rescue packages.
Pillath could actually have retired at the end of 2021. But then the now 66-year-old officer followed Lindner’s call back to Berlin. With his EU experience and his Brussels network, he should help the new finance minister to find his way around European politics.
Why is Pillath retiring after almost a year and a half as State Secretary?
There are different statements as to why Pillath is now retiring after almost a year and a half as State Secretary. From Lindner’s environment it is said that the minister is grateful that Pillath did not retire at the time. He is very satisfied and the relationship between the two is trusting. But due to Pillath’s age, it was always clear that this was a temporary assignment. However, this has never been communicated in this way, possibly in order not to damage Pillath’s authority.
But there are also officials in the Ministry of Finance who think that the State Secretary would have liked to have done his job longer. They see a certain dissatisfaction with Pillath as the reason for the change.
No one disputes the fact that the economist, who has a doctorate, is an excellent expert on European financial policy. However, the ministry has been saying for a long time that too few political initiatives came from him. Now it is time for new impulses.
Pillath has a long career in the Treasury Department. He was head of the European department there before moving to Brussels in 2008. He was also at the International Monetary Fund (IMF) for a short time in the early 1990s.
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As State Secretary, he is responsible for international affairs and financial markets in addition to Europe. Pillath is considered to be unaffiliated with party politics, he worked under ministers of the Union, the SPD and now under a liberal.
Personnel restructuring at Lindner
There were rumors last year that Lindner was planning major staff restructuring at the head of his company. Now he’s serious. And it becomes clear that the minister is primarily bringing people close to the FDP into important positions. This is not unusual: Economics Minister Robert Habeck (Greens) had exchanged many officials right at the start of office.
Lindner took a year. First he wanted to get to know the house, it was said. However, the selection of top officials close to the FDP is limited after the Liberals have not been in government for a long time. Internally, it was noted with surprise that Lindner had filled one of the department head posts with a department head from the Federal Ministry of Economics.
Such career jumps are unusual in a civil service career and usually lead to resentment in a ministry, as in this case. Some in the Federal Ministry of Finance are wondering whether the “newcomers” from the Federal Ministry of Economics are up to the task.
Last week, Lindner had already announced important personal details in the ministry. The new head of the tax department will be Nils Weith, who previously headed the tax department in the Federal Ministry of Economics.
The central department, the organizational backbone of the ministry, will be taken over by Oliver Lamprecht, who has been responsible for human resources and organization as sub-department head at the Ministry of Economic Affairs for more than ten years. In the future, the customs department will be headed by Armin Rolfink, previously Vice President of the General Customs Directorate.
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Lindner justified the exchange of department heads by saying that the ministry’s line-up “focused more strongly on our political projects and gave the organization a long-term strategic perspective,” as he wrote in a letter to employees. Pillath’s departure was deliberately not announced at the same time as the departures of the department heads. Lindner actually only wanted to announce this personnel later.
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