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Veronika Grimm: “Economic wise” argue about Grimm’s supervisory board position

Veronika Grimm: “Economic wise” argue about Grimm’s supervisory board position

Veronika Grimm is not the chairwoman, but is probably the best-known face of the government advisors at the moment. The question of whether she can also become a supervisory board member at Siemens Energy divides the committee.

It has been less than four years since the Advisory Council for Assessing Economic Development welcomed two women into its illustrious circle. Monika Schnitzer, a professor from Munich and the older and more highly decorated of the two women, was even appointed two years later as the first female chairwoman of the federal government’s important advisory body, the so-called Economic Wise Men. But one person in particular is making headlines: Veronika Grimm.

There has now been an open dispute between Grimm on the one hand and Schnitzer and the three other members of the Advisory Council Achim Truger, Ulrike Malmendier and Martin Werding. Grimm, an experienced expert in the field of energy policy, would like to take up a supervisory board mandate at the energy company Siemens Energy next week.

The other four “economic wise men” see this as an insoluble conflict of interest and are calling on Grimm to either give up her mandate at Siemens Energy or her position on the Advisory Council. The upcoming energy transformation is of “outstanding economic and economic policy importance”. Veronika Grimm’s expertise is therefore of great value in the council’s work. In addition, public awareness of compliance issues has increased.

In fact, there are different opinions about the compatibility of a supervisory board position at Siemens Energy and working for the “Wirtschaftsweise”. The organization Lobbycontrol sees a conflict of interest. “Anyone who advises the federal government on macroeconomic issues should not be paid by a large company and sit on its committees,” emphasized the association.

For the first time, dissonances arise because of the supervisory board mandate

The procedure is a novelty for the committee. Individual members had previously held supervisory positions at German stock corporations. But there was never any public dissonance about it. “I had this checked in advance – the legal situation is clear,” Grimm told the German Press Agency. The colleagues on the council were informed immediately.

Grimm told “Welt”: “There is a good reason why politicians are not supposed to dismiss members of the Council of Experts during their term of office: so that this body can advise independently and is not under pressure to express only a specific, desired opinion “The independence of the Council of Experts is not compatible with the desire to force me out of office.” Grimm’s mandate extends until 2027.

Schnitzer told the “Handelsblatt” that the most important asset of the Council of Experts was independence: “At the same time, working for a company that is so dependent on the government cannot work.” Regarding the accusation that she only wanted to get rid of an opponent for political reasons, Schnitzer said: “What nonsense.” She would prefer Grimm to remain on the council rather than join the supervisory board.

The “Wirtschaftsweise” Truger called it “nonsense that people are now claiming that it’s about personal rivalries or about getting rid of an unpopular critic of the red-green government policy.” “It’s about the conflict of interest, which we have discussed internally several times. We are really serious about the fact that we see a problem here,” he told “stern” and “Capital”. In his words, it is “obviously problematic when someone on a committee advises the federal government on transformation policy and is on the supervisory board of a company that is a key player in the transformation.”

The committee is said to have initially written to the chairman of the supervisory board of Siemens Energy, Joe Kaeser. Later there was an email to Grimm asking him to give up – with a copy to Federal Ministers Christian Lindner (FDP, Finance), Robert Habeck (Greens, Economy) and Chancellery Minister Wolfgang Schmidt (SPD). The “Handelsblatt” first reported.

Opposition sees attack on critical economist

Compliance expert Professor Christian Strenger also considers Grimm’s election to the supervisory board to be problematic. As chairman of the supervisory board of Siemens Energy, Kaeser had to clarify whether the planned appointment would create a risk of conflicts of interest, he told “Welt” some time ago. The company is supported by the federal government, which is advised by Grimm, among others, with a guarantee worth billions – which, according to Grimm’s critics, does not ease the situation.

Support comes from the FDP and the Union. The economic policy spokesman for the FDP parliamentary group, Reinhard Houben, said: “It is perfidious to construct a conflict of interest from Ms. Grimm’s supervisory board mandate at Siemens Energy.” The process has the potential to irreparably damage the reputation of the committee of “economic wise men” and its members. His colleague Julia Klöckner from the CDU/CSU parliamentary group went one step further: “It seems as if they want to get rid of a critical voice, including from the government side, because Prof. Grimm is not in line.”

Economics Minister Robert Habeck (Greens) said that the Advisory Council was an independent body. He did not want to comment specifically on the Grimm case. In general, Habeck said that the law does not provide for exclusion rules in the event of conflicts of interest, but such conflicts should nevertheless be avoided. The Advisory Council will be smart enough to resolve conflicts of interest.

Lucrative position for a well-known professor

According to the current regulations, a full supervisory board member at Siemens Energy receives a basic salary of 120,000 euros per year, plus attendance fees and, if necessary, compensation for committee work, which can add up to another tens of thousands of euros.

Grimm differs from other members of the expert panel of “Economists” in that she has a large public presence. As a sought-after conversation partner on many talk shows, and able to speak on almost all topics relating to the economy in Germany, Grimm has become something like that in recent years Face of the “Wirtschaftsweise” – but without being chairman. Schnitzer lagged behind in public perception. In addition, Grimm is known for not mincing his words.

In the past, contrary to the federal government’s line, she had spoken out in favor of continuing to operate the German nuclear power plants that were still active at the time for several years. She is skeptical about a possible easing of the debt brake, and she also counted the federal government on climate money. On the other hand, the hydrogen expert Grimm is also open to environmental and climate protection issues.

Schnitzer, on the other hand, has recently had to face frequent criticism from the Union, for example when it suggested abolishing the widow’s pension. Contrary to the FDP’s position, it insisted on reforming the debt brake.

Grimm recently made headlines when she announced her move from her traditional university, the Friedrich-Alexander University of Erlangen, to the newly founded TU Nuremberg – Grimm is one of those involved in the prestigious project in the hometown of Bavaria’s Prime Minister Markus Söder (CSU). first female professors.

Source: Stern

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