After Economics and Climate Minister Robert Habeck (Greens), the new Federal Finance Minister Christian Lindner (FDP) is also bringing support from Brussels to Berlin.

Carsten Pillath will be the new State Secretary in Lindner's ministry, responsible for Europe, international affairs and financial market policy and the successor to Jörg Kukies, who is moving to the Chancellery.

Werner Mussler

Business correspondent in Brussels.

  • Follow I follow

Manfred Schäfers

Business correspondent in Berlin.

  • Follow I follow

The 65-year-old Pillath has been Director General Economy and Competitiveness in the Secretariat of the EU Council of Ministers since 2008. In this role he will retire at the end of the year. After completing his EU career, the economist, who trained in Cologne and obtained a doctorate, is returning to the ministry where he worked for many years.

Pillath began his civil service career in 1991 in the “Federal Participations and Treuhandanstalt” department and was seconded to the International Monetary Fund (IMF) in Washington for two years during Theo Waigel's tenure.

After the change of government in 1998, he moved to the Chancellery, where he was head of the department responsible for foreign trade and European policy.

In 2003 he went back to the Ministry of Finance and initially headed the “Fundamental Financial Issues of European Policy” sub-department.

In 2005 he became head of the European department.

After the change of government in the same year, he was briefly discussed as economic policy advisor to the new Chancellor Angela Merkel;

in the end, however, this position was given to the later and now outgoing Bundesbank President Jens Weidmann.

Pillath played an important role in the euro crisis

In 2008, Pillath was appointed to his current position in Brussels. In this he had only limited political influence formally, but played - especially in the euro crisis - as coordinator of the member states and "assistant" to the respective chairmen of the Council of EU Finance Ministers (Ecofin) and the Eurogroup, an important role in addition to 2018 resigned Austrian Thomas Wieser, who led the “Eurogroup Working Group” and the economic and finance committee of the council. Pillath will now be a member of these bodies of national finance secretaries.

For Lindner, who is inexperienced in European politics, Pillath is apparently supposed to take on a similar role to the previous Green MEP Sven Giegold, who will also become a permanent state secretary in Habeck's ministry. Pillath and Giegold are both very well networked in Brussels, but stand for significantly different European political philosophies. While Giegold is an advocate of a European federal state and above all wants to grant the European Parliament more influence, Pillath is shaped by the intergovernmental understanding of integration as it has been cultivated up to now. He is not bound by party politics.

Luise Hölscher is also to become a permanent state secretary in the Ministry of Finance. With her appointment, Lindner succeeded in creating a real surprise. The business economist from Münster in Westphalia (born 1971) dealt with tax law at the university. Her habilitation deals with a politically explosive topic: “Tax structuring and tax arbitrage of internationally active companies, illustrated using the example of cross-border company sales”.

Hölscher has had a truly varied professional life so far: She worked in a tax firm, was a specialist advisor to the CDU Economic Council, had a professorship for Accounting & Taxation at the Frankfurt School of Finance & Management, worked for three years as State Secretary for Finance in Hesse, was Vice-President of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (in London, she was responsible for human resources, IT and administration) and was briefly a consultant with the Boston Consulting Group before becoming a board member of SRH Holding, a not-for-profit foundation in the education and health markets .

Hölscher is a CDU member

The FDP chairman decided in favor of Hölscher, even though she is a CDU member. It confirms his statement that professional competence is more important to him than the party book. This increases the likelihood that Werner Gatzer will be able to continue in the Federal Ministry of Finance. The SPD member has been State Secretary of the Budget under Peer Steinbrück (SPD), Wolfgang Schäuble (CDU) and Olaf Scholz (SPD) - only with a short break of a few months when he ventured out to the rail company.

As Chairman of the Management Board of DB Station & Service AG, he took care of, among other things, the renovation of train stations. But the federal budget is more exciting, it is not calculated in millions, but in billions. Now there is time pressure in the Federal Ministry of Finance: the supplementary budget 2021 has to go through the cabinet before Christmas. Numbers for the year 2022 must follow as soon as possible. In March, the benchmarks for 2023 will be on the agenda again. Last week it became known that Lindner is bringing a party friend Steffen Saebisch into his house as State Secretary. Last but not least, the lawyer is supposed to coordinate government work there, as Wolfgang Schmidt has done for Olaf Scholz (SPD) in recent years.

As a small surprise, Pillath's successor in Brussels is also a German.

The 60-year-old Thomas Westphal is moving to the Council Secretariat from exactly the same position as his predecessor in 2008.

Westphal took over the management of the European department in the Federal Ministry of Finance under Wolfgang Schäuble in 2011 and kept this position under Olaf Scholz.

Westphal does not only know Brussels from his current position.

Before that, he represented his ministry as a finance attaché at the Permanent Representation of Germany to the EU.

Keywords: