Federal government: New fuss about the Ministry of Economic Affairs: Post-occupation is being examined

Robert Habeck

According to his house, at the beginning of the week the minister asked for an internal examination to determine whether there was any bias.

(Photo: IMAGO/Chris Emil Janssen)

Berlin New fuss about the Ministry of Economic Affairs: Against the background of a debate about family ties between important employees of Minister Robert Habeck (Greens), the department wants to review the filling of a post. The ministry announced on Thursday that the procedure for replacing the chair of the management board of the German Energy Agency (dena) should be reviewed and, if necessary, relaunched.

At the beginning of the week, State Secretary for Economic Affairs Patrick Graichen informed Habeck that the new head of dena, Michael Schäfer, was his best man. “Therefore, the appearance of a possible bias cannot be completely ruled out,” the ministry said. The minister then asked for an internal review at the beginning of the week. In order to remedy the error, State Secretary for Economic Affairs Stefan Wenzel, as Chairman of dena’s Supervisory Board, asked the Supervisory Board on Thursday to review the procedure and, if necessary, set it up again.

“From a purely legal point of view, there were no errors in the procedure; the resolutions of dena’s Supervisory Board are effective. But due to an error in an upstream pre-selection process, the appearance of a possible bias could have arisen.” This was the result of the internal examination initiated at Habeck’s request.

Family ties between important employees of Habeck had caused irritation among the opposition. The CDU MP Tilman Kuban spoke on Wednesday at a debate in the Bundestag of “mafia tendencies”, Stephan Brandner from the AfD, at whose instigation the Bundestag in Berlin discussed the topic in a current hour, spoke of “green clan structures”. Representatives of the traffic light groups emphasized that no rules had been violated. When asked, the Ministry of Economic Affairs stated that precautions had been taken to prevent conflicts of interest.

Two high-ranking employees of Habeck have family ties to the Öko-Institut, an ecologically oriented research institution. State Secretary Graichen’s sister, Verena Graichen, works at the nature conservation organization BUND and, like another brother, at the Öko-Institut, as summarized by SPD MP Markus Hümpfer, among others. Verena Graichen, in turn, is married to the parliamentary Secretary of State for Economic Affairs, Michael Kellner (Greens).

Patrick Graichen

The State Secretary, seen here during a press conference at the G7 meeting in Japan, has close ties to the new head of dena.

(Photo: dpa)

According to its own description, the federal German Energy Agency sees itself as a “pioneer” for the energy transition. According to the Ministry of Economics, the decision on the review and possible resumption of the procedure for the dena chief post lies with the supervisory board.

At the beginning of April, dena announced that the shareholders and the Supervisory Board had appointed Schäfer as the new CEO of dena with effect from June 15, 2023. The administrative scientist will manage dena’s business together with Kristina Haverkamp, ​​whose contract has been extended.

Schäfer was previously a member of the management of the German Nature Conservation Union and sat for the Greens in the Berlin House of Representatives.

After a selection interview, the supervisory board unanimously decided in favor of Schäfer due to the “outstanding qualifications”, according to the ministry. The shareholders’ meeting approved.

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The Ministry of Transport and the Ministry of the Environment are represented on dena’s Supervisory Board. The shareholders’ meeting consists of the state development bank KfW and the federal government, represented by the Ministry of Economic Affairs, which decides in agreement with other ministries.

According to the ministry, the selection process for the new management was carried out in several stages. A search committee was formed in advance. This consisted of Wenzel, the technically responsible State Secretary Graichen, the head of the department responsible for investment management and, as a guest, the second dena managing director. An external personnel service provider was commissioned to search for suitable candidates. “The search committee then held talks with selected candidates, made a pre-selection and submitted a personnel proposal to dena’s Supervisory Board based on the best qualifications.” The personnel decision itself then lay with dena’s Supervisory Board with the approval of the shareholders’ meeting. According to the Ministry, the error lies in the stage preceding the formal selection process.

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