Talk in the Park

It’s the Investment Climate, Stupid!

On Budgetary and Fiscal Policy in Germany and Europe

He has been a member of the German Bundestag since 1972, longer than any other representative. He also holds another record as a member of government – no federal minister in Germany has spent more years in office than he has. His name? Wolfgang Schäuble.

The 71-year-old is, without a doubt, one of Germany’s most influential political figures. As the Minister of the Interior, he negotiated the Unification Treaty with East Germany, and as the current Minister of Finance, he is still battling the effects of the financial and sovereign debt crisis. And he plays a leading role in Angela Merkel’s cabinet.

But during his visit to the Robert Bosch House, Schäuble played down all the praise. He makes it clear at the beginning that while he may be the longest-serving minister, he isn’t the most senior cabinet member. Then he begins to talk about fiscal policy in Germany and Europe, and is obviously in his element. Schäuble uses figures, background information, details, and anecdotes to explain his political analyses, making even the driest of financial topics understandable and entertaining.

Schäuble views the balanced budget that he has planned for the coming year as the best prerequisite for economic growth, since solid fiscal policy inspires confidence. That’s why he is fighting against efforts to loosen the EU’s Stability and Growth Pact. Even talking about doing so is damaging, he says. Above all else, Germany and its European neighbors need more investments. Schäuble warns against only looking at the amount of the corresponding items in the public budgets, however. Oftentimes, the available funds aren’t even drawn upon because there aren’t any appropriate projects or because the government doesn’t work fast enough. That’s why Schäuble is calling for a more efficient planning and approval procedure, particularly in Southern Europe.

During the discussion with the nearly fifty invited guests, Schäuble barely has a chance to touch his dessert. There is only one question that he answers shortly and succinctly: Angela Merkel will remain chancellor until 2017. After all, a promise is a promise.

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Picture Gallery

Photos: Robert Thiele 
Wolfgang Schäuble at the Robert Bosch Stiftung. From right to left: Franz Fehrenbach, Chairman of the Supervisory Board of the Robert Bosch GmbH, his wife Gaby, Ingrid Hamm and Joachim Rogall, Cief Executive Officers of the Robert Bosch Stiftung, and Stefan Schott, Head of the communication department of the Foundation