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.
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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]