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24th Oct 2021

Merkel under fire over BMW donation

  • Merkel is facing some tough questions in the Bundestag over party donations (Photo: Bundesregierung)

German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Tuesday (15 October) came under fire over a €690,000 donation from the family behind BMW at a time when her government blocked an EU cap on CO2 emissions for cars.

The Bavarian carmaker is dominated by the Quandt family - Johanna and her two children Stefan and Susanne - who each donated €230,000 to the Merkel's Christian-Democratic Union. The German parliament made the transfer public on Tuesday and the CDU confirmed it received the money on 9 October.

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According to the parliamentary report, the Quandts had decided to make the donation at the beginning of the year, but waited until after the 22 September elections in order not to influence them.

The timing was still ill-chosen, as their donation overlapped with intense negotiations at the EU level over CO2 emissions for cars, which Germany managed to water down, in spite of the EU's environment goals.

BMW cars, as well as Mercedes, another key player in the German car industry, have an above-average CO2 output compared to French or Italian cars.

The German environment minister, citing concerns over jobs in the German car industry, pressed for longer transition periods and "more flexibility" on how car manufacturers have to calculate the CO2 emissions. It is for the fourth time the deal has been delayed in the past few years.

The opposition was quick to slam the donation.

"The timeframe tying this to Merkel defending the interests of the car industry only adds weight to those who criticize the process of political donations," Social-Democrat MP Joachim Poss said.

Leftist parliamentarians from the Linke Party said the chancellor had "sold out" to BMW, while Juergen Trittin, the Greens ex-leader, wrote on Twitter that the Quandt family had "bought Merkel's climate policy for 690,000 euros."

Meanwhile, the Quandt family put out a statement pointing out that they are shareholders in several other companies.

“The donations are not connected with any single political decision,” the statement said.

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