The Brief, powered by Facebook – A bittersweet goodbye for Merkel’s first man –

Besides Angela Merkel’s husband Joachim Sauer, no one else has been closer to the Chancellor than Peter Altmaier, the current acting Minister for Energy and the Economy. Altmaier is one of the very few German politicians to have a first name with Merkel.

Once a “Young savage” with dreams of getting along better between the Conservatives and the Greens (a concept at the time very ambitious), Altmaier must now deal with a somewhat mixed legacy as he leaves the Bundestag after 27 years .

Altmaier started her career as State Secretary at the Home Office in 2005 and graduated to become Merkel’s interlocutor in the refugee crisis, after a brief stint as Environment Minister . The veteran of consecutive Merkel governments is now ending his career as Minister of the Economy.

One of many powerful conservative politicians over 60, Altmaier made waves last month when he joined failed party leader Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer in relinquishing their Bundestag terms to push the party to renew itself .

Outside the Bundestag, and with his CDU party likely to end up in opposition, this decision effectively puts an end to Altmaier’s career.

In Germany, environmental organizations and the Greens have long accused Altmaier of championing the industry to the detriment of environmental concerns.

His detractors were stunned when he recommended the new German government to abolish the renewable energy tax by 2025, the main driver of electricity prices in Germany, because Altmaier had failed to succeed. tackle the problem during his four-year tenure.

In 2018, Altmaier lobbied against ambitious EU targets to share renewables in the bloc’s energy mix, which he said would cost German taxpayers.

“I ask you to understand that a minister must follow the will of the government,” Altmaier told reporters on Wednesday October 27, when EURACTIV asked him if he considered his lobbying of the energy council in 2018 to be a mistake. . He explained that climate action came at a cost and would have an impact on German competitiveness.

Ultimately, Altmaier’s service to Germany’s competitiveness and quality of life marked much of his tenure as Minister of Economy and Energy, which led to the observers to criticize the slow expansion of renewables.

Altmaier is another case of an ambitious politician whose initial commitment to environmentalism did not hold up over time.

Still, his decision to relinquish his parliamentary mandate and quit politics alongside Merkel to make way for a younger generation points to a more idealistic Altmaier. He is a man who appears almost bittersweet in the face of the challenges that realpolitik has imposed on him.

“Do it well and do it better” were Altmaier’s last words as a parliamentarian. Not as a minister, he told journalists interviewed by EURACTIV.

A message from Facebook: The search is done with Facebook.

Facebook’s Data For Good program uses privacy-protected data to solve some of the world’s biggest social problems. Cornelius Fritz, statistician at LMU München, analyzes aggregate data from around 10 million Facebook users to predict the number of COVID-19 cases locally in Germany.

The roundup

As Poland’s row over judicial independence continues to escalate, the EU’s highest court has imposed a 1 million euros daily fine in Warsaw for not having fulfilled his summer orders. Meanwhile, Poland accuses Brussels of blackmailing its attempts to attach conditions to the disbursement of already affected COVID money.

Bulgarian President Rumen Radev is currently the favorite to win a second term in the November 14 elections. But the problematic COVID-19 situation and the dissatisfaction over the recently introduced green certificate could influence the outcome.

With the help of a proposed new banking package, the European Commission is trying to strike a balance between increasing financial stability, protecting bank profits and sustainability concerns. The proposed implementation of the higher capital requirements is phased in over several years.

The ability of geothermal energy to provide base electricity and the flexibility of heating and power systems will be invaluable in advancing towards net-zero goals, experts say. Geothermal power plants involve high initial investment costs, but new drilling techniques and the urgency to decarbonize heating systems are giving new impetus to the industry, which plans to expand rapidly.

Speaking of climate neutrality: the concept of closed loop recycling is introduced in the new EU action plan for the circular economy, which is one of the main building blocks of the European Green Deal. But what does all this mean?

As the fossil fuel debate continues to heat up, Irish Minister of State Ossian Smyth says the EU must increase its renewable energy capacity, become more self-sufficient in energy production and move away from fossil fuels under foreign control. Smyth is one of the signatories of a joint document supporting the internal energy market.

EURACTIV visited the canton of Una Sana in northwestern Bosnia in mid-October for four days to interview institutional and non-governmental actors in order to present a clearer picture of the migration situation at the border external to the EU. Read more in EURACTIV’s special report.

The European Commission will restore operating grants for health NGOs in the EU4Health program, pledged Health Commissioner Stella Kyriakides. European health NGOs joined forces in an online campaign this week, with the aim of bringing structural funds back into the new program.

Digital giants could soon be fined at least 4% of their annual turnover for non-compliance with the law on digital markets (DMA). DMA was proposed by the Commission last December, to regulate digital markets and provide a clear framework to prevent digital giants, the so-called gatekeepers, from engaging in anti-competitive practices.

Pay attention to…

  • Executive Vice-President Frans Timmermans participates in the panel of the International Trade Union Confederation.
  • Equality Commissioner Helena Dalli speaks at the 2021 Gender Equality Index conference.
  • Home Affairs Commissioner Ylva Johansson speaks at the launch of the OECD International Migration Outlook 2021.
  • Informal meeting of political directors on October 28-29, with a focus on EU foreign policy issues.

The views are those of the author.

[Edited by Zoran Radosavljevic]

About Eleanor Blackburn

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