Günter Verheugen

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Günter Verheugen (2013)

Günter Verheugen (born April 28, 1944 in Bad Kreuznach ) is a German politician ( SPD , until 1982 FDP ). He was Vice-President of the European Commission in the Barroso I Commission and, as EU Commissioner, was responsible for business and industry. In the Commission under Romano Prodi , he was responsible for EU enlargement .


Verheugen (left) with Hans Dietrich Genscher at the FDP federal party conference in 1981

Günter Verheugen attended the municipal high school in Brühl, today the Max-Ernst-Gymnasium in Brühl near Cologne , which he graduated with the Abitur. After an internship at the Neue Ruhr Zeitung in Essen and the Neue Rhein Zeitung in Cologne (1963 to 1965), he studied history , sociology and political science at the Universities of Cologne and Bonn from 1965 to 1969 .

Political career in the FDP

From 1967 Verheugen was state chairman of the German Young Democrats in North Rhine-Westphalia . Immediately after completing his studies, he became head of the PR department in the Federal Ministry of the Interior under Hans-Dietrich Genscher in 1969 . In 1974 he moved to the Foreign Office with his boss . Until 1976 he was head of the analysis and information team .

In 1977 he became federal manager of the FDP. The Mainz federal party congress elected him general secretary in 1978 .

Political career in the SPD

After leaving because of the coalition change of the FDP from the SPD to the CDU / CSU , he joined the SPD in the same year (1982) with other prominent left-liberal FDP members such as Ingrid Matthäus-Maier and Andreas von Schoeler .

For the SPD, he sat in the German Bundestag from 1983 to 1999 . Günter Verheugen was only accepted into the Kulmbach sub-district of the SPD in December 1982 , for which he ran in constituency 226 in March of the following year . The SPD chairman Willy Brandt himself had campaigned for the former Kulmbach member of the Bundestag Philip Rosenthal to renounce another candidacy in favor of Verheugen. Günter Verheugen never won the direct mandate in Kulmbach between 1983 and 1998, but instead moved into the Bundestag every time via the state list. From 1983 to 1998 he was a member of the Foreign Affairs Committee , and in 1992 he was chairman of the European Union special committee . Brandt also made Verheugen editor-in-chief of the party newspaper Vorwärts in 1987 .

In addition to other offices within and outside the SPD, from 1994 to 1997 he was the deputy chairman of the SPD parliamentary group in the Bundestag, responsible for foreign , security and development policy .

Under Rudolf Scharping he was federal manager of the SPD from August 1993 to September 1995; Franz Müntefering followed him . Since 1997 he has been chairman of the Committee for Peace, Security and Disarmament of the Socialist International .

After the federal election in 1998 , which led to the first red-green coalition ( Schröder I cabinet ), he became Minister of State in the Foreign Office under Joschka Fischer and remained so until mid-September 1999 when he became EU Commissioner for Enlargement and European Neighborhood Policy .

Member of the European Commission

Verheugen became a member of the European Commission in September 1999 , where he was initially responsible for enlargement for one term . During his term of office, the accession negotiations with the states of the EU eastward enlargement round fell in 2004. He also advocated Turkey's accession to the EU .

Verheugen was Commissioner for Industry and Enterprise Policy of the Barroso I Commission and European Chairman of the Transatlantic Economic Council from November 22, 2004 to February 9, 2010 . He was also Vice- President of the Commission during this period .

As a commissioner, Verheugen did not have the right to issue instructions to the other commissioners in the areas of industry and corporate policy, as former Chancellor Gerhard Schröder had originally proposed, in order to be able to exert German influence on the economic policy of the EU Commission.

On the discussion about the EU's democratic deficit, Verheugen said in 2005:

If the EU were to apply to us for membership, we would have to say: democratically insufficient. "

However, he limited this view:

The great misunderstanding about Europe becomes apparent when the European Union is required to act like a state. But the EU is not a state. "

Affair and recall

Verheugen's own administration came under suspicion of patronage when the German press published holiday pictures from the summer of 2006, which showed him "holding hands" and naked on the beach in Lithuania with his long-time colleague Petra Erler, whom he only joined in April 2006 Promoted to office manager. In September 2007 it was announced that Verheugen had had a relationship with Erler since 2005. On the following day, Commission President Barroso, in agreement with the German Federal Government, proposed that Verheugen's responsibility for reducing bureaucracy be given to the CSU politician Edmund Stoiber . Erler remained Verheugen's head of cabinet until 2010.

Günter Verheugen (2019)

Further work

After his withdrawal from European politics, Verheugen became an honorary professor at the European University Viadrina in Frankfurt (Oder) and a consultant at the Agency for the Modernization of Ukraine (AMU) .

In the course of the refugee crisis in Europe in 2015 , Verheugen defended the controls of the Hungarian government on the Schengen external border with Serbia .

He is a member of the board of trustees of the Institute for European Partnerships and International Cooperation (IPZ) in Hürth .

After the vote on the United Kingdom and Gibraltar European Union membership referendum of the United Kingdom from the EU in June 2016, Verheugen was shocked and criticized the EU, saying: "It is in the EU for some time everything wrong, what can go wrong. We are experiencing a series of setbacks in European integration. We are experiencing an erosion of the community spirit. "




On the Brussels bureaucracy, Süddeutsche Zeitung , October 6, 2006:

My own staff says that 80 to 90 percent of their working time is used for internal coordination. To put it bluntly, we spend a lot of our time solving problems that wouldn't exist if we weren't there. "

On the human rights issue on the European-Russian partnership, Die Welt , October 19, 2006:

If we were to choose our energy supplies according to whether human rights are fully realized in the supplier countries, then we would only be able to get our energy from Norway. "

On the accession negotiations between Turkey and the European Union , Deutschlandfunk , October 18, 2009:

We need Turkey more than Turkey needs us. "

About the European Union and the euro currency, in the ZDF broadcast Maybrit Illner, December 9, 2010:

This whole European Unity project became necessary because of Germany. The point is always to involve Germany so that it does not become a danger to others. "

On the Turkey-EU plan regarding the refugee crisis, N24 studio interview, March 21, 2016:

The idea is over that Germany belongs to the Germans alone. "

On the lack of flexibility of the Union, Brussels' mistakes that led to Brexit, Emmanuel Macron's reform proposals, Angela Merkel's balance sheet as a European politician and the treatment of Eastern European countries as second-class EU members, interview in the NZZ , November 27, 2018:

EU policy is always a policy in the interests of the big and strong, never the small and weaker. "

Web links

Commons : Günter Verheugen  - Collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. Kulmbach of all places . In: Der Spiegel . No. 51 , 1982, pp. 33 ( Online - Dec. 20, 1982 ).
  2. ^ German Bundestag: constituency 226 Kulmbach. In: webarchiv.bundestag.de. February 6, 2007, accessed November 27, 2016 .
  3. ^ Olaf Opitz: Scharpings General. Federal Managing Director Günter Verheugen is a social democrat of a different kind . In: FOCUS magazine . No. 21 , May 21, 1994 ( online [accessed on 27 November 2016]).
  4. Federal Managing Director . SPD federal manager since 1972. In: spd.de. Archived from the original on July 26, 2010 ; accessed on November 27, 2016 .
  5. ^ Section PI 4 of the German Bundestag: Verheugen Günter. In: webarchiv.bundestag.de. Retrieved November 27, 2016 .
  6. Wolfgang Proissl: The steep career of the cabinet chief ("The Thuringian works for Verheugen, since 1999 as enlargement commissioner ...")
  7. Michael Scheerer: SPD strengthens Verheugen's back. In: Handelsblatt . October 23, 2006, accessed February 13, 2015 .
  8. Verheugen has been in a relationship with Petra Erler since 2005. In: welt.de . September 12, 2007, accessed February 13, 2015 .
  9. Martin Winter, Brussels: European Commission: Stoiber's new job as an anti-bureaucrat ( memento of April 30, 2008 in the Internet Archive ), Süddeutsche Zeitung of September 13, 2007
  10. ^ Eva Damm: Günter Verheugen • Faculty of Cultural Studies. (No longer available online.) In: www.kuwi.europa-uni.de. Archived from the original on August 3, 2016 ; accessed on November 27, 2016 .
  11. AMU team starts program work . In: ots.at . ( ots.at [accessed on November 27, 2016]).
  12. Finally a new job for Spindi . March 3, 2015 ( oe24.at [accessed November 27, 2016]).
  13. Dimitrios Georgoulis: Günter Verheugen in the "Duel on n-tv". "Hungary does the dirty work for us". In: n-tv.de. September 21, 2015, accessed November 27, 2016 .
  14. Ex-EU Commissioner Günter Verheugen after Brexit: “The shock is incredibly deep”. In: Kölner Stadt-Anzeiger. Retrieved June 26, 2016 .
  15. Federal Chancellor's answer to the query (PDF; 6.59 MB) Parliament. April 23, 2012. Retrieved June 12, 2017.
  16. Günter leaves, Günther comes. In: suedkurier.de. Archived from the original on February 13, 2015 ; accessed on February 13, 2015 .
  17. Christoph B. Schiltz: "That is an outright slander". In: welt.de . October 19, 2006, accessed February 13, 2015 .
  18. Volker Finthammer: Interview of the week. Deutschlandfunk , October 18, 2009, p. 1 , accessed on October 18, 2009 (German).
  19. ^ ZDF television program Maybrit Illner on December 9, 2010.
  20. N24: The Turkey-EU plan is a “denial of reality”. N24 , March 21, 2016, p. 1 , accessed on March 21, 2016 (German).
  21. «EU policy is always a policy in the interests of the big and strong, never of the small and weaker» , Interview, NZZ , November 27, 2018