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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.

Former chancellor Gerhard Schröder (SPD), at a hearing of the Bundestag's Economics Committee on the Nord Stream 2 pipeline project in 2020.
Former chancellor Gerhard Schröder (SPD), at a hearing of the Bundestag's Economics Committee on the Nord Stream 2 pipeline project in 2020. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Kay Nietfeld

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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ENERGY

Germany raps US over ‘astronomical’ gas prices

Germany's economy minister on Wednesday accused countries including the US of charging too much for gas as Europe's biggest economy struggles to rebalance its energy mix without Russian supplies.

Germany raps US over 'astronomical' gas prices

“Some countries, even friendly ones, are achieving astronomical prices in some cases,”

Robert Habeck told the Neue Osnabruecker Zeitung newspaper. “This naturally brings problems with it, which we have to talk about,” he said.

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has caused a dramatic energy crisis in Germany, which previously relied on Moscow for 55 percent of gas deliveries.

Russia has been gradually squeezing supplies since invading Ukraine in what Berlin believes is retaliation for its support for Kyiv.

To fill the gap, Berlin is investing in more expensive liquefied natural gas (LNG).

Germany and other European countries have thus turned to the United States, which now provides 45 percent of European LNG imports — up from 28 percent in 2021.

“The US turned to us when oil prices shot up, and as a result national oil reserves were also tapped in Europe,” Habeck said. “I think such solidarity would also be good for curbing gas prices.”

Habeck also called on the EU to coordinate gas purchases to help bring prices down.

The bloc should “bundle its market power and orchestrate smart and synchronised purchasing behaviour among EU states so that individual EU countries do not outbid each other and drive up world market prices”, he said.

Germany last week announced a 200-billion-euro ($199-billion) fund to shield consumers from soaring energy prices.

However, the plan has been criticised by France and key members of the European Commission, who are calling for EU-wide solutions to the energy crunch.

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