Greens co-leader Habeck is said to have ambitions for the finance department, FDP leader Christian Lindner takes an offensive look at it: Why is this ministry so important to the parties?

Big money is at stake in Wilhelmstrasse in Berlin: This is where the Federal Ministry of Finance is based. Olaf Scholz is still running the business, but he wants to be elected Chancellor of the Ampel Coalition soon. If the FDP has its way, then its chairman Christian Lindner moves into the ministerial office. But the Greens are also showing interest. Whoever ultimately becomes finance minister – he would have more power than almost any other member of the federal government.

Right of veto

The prominent importance of the Federal Ministry of Finance is shown, among other things, in the fact that it can stop proposals from other ministries if they have financial consequences. “If the Federal Government decides on a question of financial importance against or without the vote of the Federal Minister of Finance, the Federal Minister of Finance can expressly object to the decision,” says the Federal Government’s rules of procedure. The “implementation of the matter” must therefore be omitted “if it is not decided by a majority of all federal ministers in the new vote in the presence of the Federal Minister of Finance or his representative”.

There is a similar right of veto for the Ministry of Justice and the Ministry of the Interior. Both departments can raise objections if they recognize an “incompatibility with applicable law” in a government project.

Federal budget

One of the most important tasks of the Federal Ministry of Finance with its more than 2,000 employees is drawing up the federal budget. All expected income including borrowing and federal expenditure for one year are listed in detail here. The ministry already provides the basic line on which the individual departments must then orient themselves when drawing up their budgets. In the Ministry of Finance there is also a so-called mirror section for each department, which carefully examines the budget planning proposals and can request changes.

Europe

The Ministry of Finance is responsible within the federal government for coordinating European economic and monetary policy. It is also involved in the work on the EU budget. In the so-called Council for Economics and Finance (Ecofin), the European economics and finance ministers discuss current topics usually once a month – for Germany, the Federal Finance Minister takes part. He is also a member of the Eurogroup, in which the responsible ministers of the euro countries exchange ideas. In these committees, for example, Scholz campaigned for the joint introduction of a financial transaction tax, but without success.

Finances, taxes and much more

The ministry is also responsible for national and international tax issues, for federal investments in companies, for combating money laundering and for banking and insurance supervision. The Federal Agency for Real Estate Tasks (Bima), which administers and sells state-owned real estate and land, is also subordinate to him. In addition, the ministry deals, among other things, with the financial reparation of Nazi and SED injustice.

There was not yet a federal finance minister in Germany – men always headed the department, among them Franz Josef Strauss (CSU), Helmut Schmidt (SPD) and Oskar Lafontaine (then SPD, now Linke). Theo Waigel (CSU) was in office the longest, namely from spring 1989 to autumn 1998.

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