5th Dec 2023

Schroder under fire for taking gas pipeline top job

Former German chancellor Gerhard Schroder is facing flak for taking a new job as board chairman of a Russian-German consortium building a direct gas pipeline between the two countries – a project he heavily promoted as chancellor.

It emerged over the weekend, just weeks after Angela Merkel took over the chancellorship, that Mr Schroder will head the shareholder committee of a new joint pipeline company that brings together Gazprom, a Russian state-owned firm, and German giants BASF and E.ON Ruhrgas.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Become an expert on Europe

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

  • Mr Schroder is alleged to have secured the top job through Mr Putin’s help. (Photo: Kremlin Press Service)

As chancellor, Mr Schroder in September symbolically attended the signing of the five billion dollar pipeline deal, along with Russian president Vladimir Putin.

The Russian and former German leader, who enjoy a close personal relationship, had both heavily promoted the deal, and German politicians and media suspect Mr Schroder secured the top supervising job with Mr Putin’s help.

The president of the German parliament, Norbert Lammert, described the career move as "instinct-less", adding that it seemed unthinkable for a former government chief not to see there was a "link between political engagement and personal economic interests".

German media reports have also said the former chancellor would pocket one million euros for the post - allegations which have been dismissed by Mr Schroder as "nonsense".

Top politicians of Mr Schroder’s own social democrat SPD party have joined the chorus of voices criticising the career move, with SPD parliamentary leader Peter Struck saying he himself would not have taken the job.


Christian Democrat chancellor Angela Merkel said she had a "certain understanding" for the criticism, announcing that the government would consider setting up a code of conduct for former top politicians, as already exists elsewhere in Europe.

But in an interview with Sueddeutsche on Monday (12 December), the former chancellor hit back at critics, saying he would take legal steps against those bringing false allegations.

"A lot of nonsense is being said by politicians and media", he said, adding that his lawyer would examine possibilities for legal action.

"For me it is a question of honour to participate in the pipeline project … I already supported it politically in the past because I think it makes sense", Mr Schroder stated.

But legal experts have said Mr Schroder himself could face criminal proceedings under German law for making money from his political office.

Strategic importance

The 1,200 km pipeline will link St. Petersburg in Russia directly via the Baltic sea to Greifswald in Germany.

The scheme has huge strategic importance because the direct pipeline will bypass EU states which have difficult relations with Moscow, such as Poland and the Ukraine.

The bilateral project has sparked strong criticism in Poland and the Baltic states, which fear their position vis-a-vis Moscow will be weakened by the German-Russian deal.

Approximately one quarter of Europe's gas is supplied by Russia.

Brussels denies having no 'concern' on Spain's amnesty law

The Spanish government remains secretive about its negotiations with pro-independence Catalans, but claims the EU Commission has "zero concerns" about their proposed amnesty law for Catalan separatists. The EU executive denies that.


Why populism appeals to less brainy EU voters

People who voted for Brexit tended to be less clever, research shows, in findings that also shed light on the appeal of EU populists, such as Dutch politician Geert Wilders, who won elections this week.


How Wilders' Dutch extremism goes way beyond Islamophobia

Without losing sight of his pervasive Islamophobia, it is essential to note Geert Wilders' far-right extremism extends to other issues that could drastically alter the nature of Dutch politics — and end its often constructive role in advancing EU policies.


Can Green Deal survive the 2024 European election?

Six months ahead of the EU elections, knocking an 'elitist' climate agenda is looking like a vote-winner to some. Saving the Green Deal and the EU's climate ambitions starts with listening to Europeans who are struggling to make ends meet.

Latest News

  1. EU nears deal to fingerprint six year-old asylum seekers
  2. Orbán's Ukraine-veto threat escalates ahead of EU summit
  3. Can Green Deal survive the 2024 European election?
  4. Protecting workers' rights throughout the AI revolution
  5. Russia, the West, and the geopolitical 'touch-move rule'
  6. Afghanistan is a 'forever emergency,' says UN head
  7. EU public procurement reform 'ineffective', find auditors
  8. COP28 warned over-relying on carbon capture costs €27 trillion

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersArtist Jessie Kleemann at Nordic pavilion during UN climate summit COP28
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersCOP28: Gathering Nordic and global experts to put food and health on the agenda
  3. Friedrich Naumann FoundationPoems of Liberty – Call for Submission “Human Rights in Inhume War”: 250€ honorary fee for selected poems
  4. World BankWorld Bank report: How to create a future where the rewards of technology benefit all levels of society?
  5. Georgia Ministry of Foreign AffairsThis autumn Europalia arts festival is all about GEORGIA!
  6. UNOPSFostering health system resilience in fragile and conflict-affected countries

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. European Citizen's InitiativeThe European Commission launches the ‘ImagineEU’ competition for secondary school students in the EU.
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersThe Nordic Region is stepping up its efforts to reduce food waste
  3. UNOPSUNOPS begins works under EU-funded project to repair schools in Ukraine
  4. Georgia Ministry of Foreign AffairsGeorgia effectively prevents sanctions evasion against Russia – confirm EU, UK, USA
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersGlobal interest in the new Nordic Nutrition Recommendations – here are the speakers for the launch
  6. Nordic Council of Ministers20 June: Launch of the new Nordic Nutrition Recommendations

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us