The leaders of the CDU, CSU and SPD are determined not to let the German government coalition break over the personality of the head of the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution, Hans-Georg Maaßen. EURACTIV Germany’s media partner “Der Tagesspiegel” reports.
At the weekend, the German government parties finally found a solution for the Maaßen issue: On Sunday evening, Chancellor Angela Merkel, CSU leader Horst Seehofer and SPD leader Andrea Nahles agreed to transfer Maaßen to the German interior ministry. Nahles described this solution as a “good signal that the coalition is able to take public criticism seriously and correct itself.”
The controversial intelligence chief will now get the position of a “special adviser to the Federal Minister of the Interior” and operate in the rank of head of department. With a B9 salary level, which corresponds to a gross income of €11,500 per month, Maaßen will receive no salary increase.
The agreement was preceded by numerous calls from coalition leaders on Sunday, seeking a friendly solution to the problem. Earlier, Interior Minister Seehofer had refused to send Maaßen into retirement.
“We have to treat Mr Maaßen with decency,” he was quoted as saying in “Bild am Sonntag” as Maaßen was a “highly competent and honest employee who committed no misconduct”. Seehofer did not want to “fire him” for that reason.
The first attempt by the coalition leaders to find a solution met with widespread rejection last week.
Sunday’s negotiations had become necessary as the outcome of the coalition’s first attempt to find a new job for Maaßen met with widespread opposition from the political parties and the public. SPD leader Nahles had come under particular pressure and insisted on a renegotiation of the deal on Friday.
It was not to convey to people that an intelligence chief who no longer has the confidence of the entire coalition should be promoted to the secretary of state in the Interior Ministry and also earn more money, Nahles said.
Now, Maaßen’s task should include “European and international affairs”, Seehofer announced after the talks. This includes the agreement of repatriation agreements for refugees with other European countries as well as agreements with African countries.
He would be acting under various departments of the ministry. The costs for the previously non-existent body would be covered from the existing budget of the ministry.
The agreement will be implemented “swiftly and promptly”, Seehofer said.
On Sunday evening, however, it remained unclear why the SPD leader had not already agreed on such a solution in the past week. Seehofer made clear that he had already made this proposal to both the Chancellor and Nahles before.
Nahles emphasised that for her, it was crucial that Maaßen was not promoted and would not receive more money than before.