Norbert Walter-Borjans

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Norbert Walter-Borjans (2019) Signature of Norbert Walter-Borjans

Norbert Walter-Borjans (born September 17, 1952 in Krefeld - Uerdingen as Norbert Walter , also known as NoWaBo ) is a German politician ( SPD ). He has been federal chairman of the SPD together with Saskia Esken since December 6, 2019 . Before that, he was Finance Minister of North Rhine-Westphalia from 2010 to 2017 and chairman of the German Finance Ministers Conference in 2012, 2014 and 2016 .


Origin and school education

Norbert Walter-Borjans grew up as a working-class child in what is now the Meerbusch district of Lank-Latum . His father was a carpenter , his mother a seamstress . After attending primary school , Walter-Borjans was a high school student at the Fabritianum grammar school in Krefeld-Uerdingen from 1966 to 1971 , from which he graduated in 1971 with the Abitur .

Studies and career beginnings

From 1971 to 1972 Walter-Borjans studied computer science for two semesters , and from 1972 economics at the Rheinische Friedrich-Wilhelms-Universität Bonn . In 1978 he graduated with Diploma - Economist .

After graduating in Bonn , Walter-Borjans began his professional career in product management at Henkel in Düsseldorf in 1978 . In 1980 he went to university again , this time to Cologne with the aim of doing a doctorate in economics. 1982 Walter-Borjans was on the economic and social sciences faculty of the University of Cologne to Dr. rer. pole. PhD.

Until 1984 Walter-Borjans was a research assistant at the Institute for Transport Science / Seminar for Economic Theory under the direction of Rainer Willeke . His research focus was the effects of highway construction on the economy and the environment. The teaching activity at the seminar for economic theory mainly comprised competition and monetary policy . In 1986 Walter-Borjans was also one of the founding members of the Transport Club Germany (VCD), which advocates an ecological transport policy , and was its deputy federal chairman until the end of 1990.

Activities in the NRW State Chancellery

In 1984 Walter-Borjans moved to the State Chancellery of North Rhine-Westphalia . His fields of activity concerned the analysis of structural change and the budget and financial policy of the country. In 1990/91, on behalf of the then head of the State Chancellery, Wolfgang Clement , he coordinated the cross-faction work for Bonn as the federal capital . In 1991, Prime Minister Johannes Rau (SPD) appointed him first as deputy, and then until 1998 as government spokesman for North Rhine-Westphalia.

State Secretary in Saarland and North Rhine-Westphalia

When Johannes Rau changed to Wolfgang Clement in 1998, Walter-Borjans resigned as government spokesman and went to Saarbrücken as State Secretary for the Saarland Economics and Finance Minister Christiane Krajewski (SPD) ( cabinet of Prime Ministers Oskar Lafontaine and Reinhard Klektiven ).

After the defeat of the SPD in the Saarland state elections in 1999 , Walter-Borjans worked as a freelance management consultant in Saarbrücken and Cologne, until the then North Rhine-Westphalian Prime Minister Peer Steinbrück (SPD) and Economics and Labor Minister Harald Schartau (SPD) became State Secretary for Economic Affairs in 2004 back to Düsseldorf. This commitment ended with the defeat of the SPD in the North Rhine-Westphalian state elections in 2005 . Then Walter-Borjans worked again as a management consultant, u. a. for the housing industry and institutions of further education.

Head of department in Cologne

In May 2006, the Cologne City Council elected Norbert Walter-Borjans as Head of Economic and Real Estate (Department III). During this time, well-known new settlements such as AMB Generali Germany , Microsoft , the European headquarters of the Chinese construction machinery manufacturer Sany and the decision to relocate the Lanxess company headquarters from Leverkusen to Cologne were made.

In May 2009, the Cologne council also transferred the office of city treasurer to Norbert Walter-Borjans (Department II). His term of office was marked by the conversion of the municipal budgets from cameralistic to double- entry bookkeeping, the strengthening of citizen participation in budget preparation, but above all coping with the financial crisis with sharp drops in tax revenue and economic strength . On his last day of work as treasurer in Cologne, Walter-Borjans canceled the controversial lease with the Oppenheim-Esch-Fonds for the new exhibition halls from 2003 after the European Court of Justice complained that the project was not advertised.

The culture tax initiated by Walter-Borjans at the end of 2009 , which is levied through a surcharge on overnight stays in hotels and pensions, received nationwide attention . The levy was hotly debated under the name of bed tax or spa tax and was fought above all by the German Hotel and Guest House Association (DEHOGA), which had just pushed through the reduction of VAT for hotels in the CDU / CSU / FDP-led federal government from 2010. On July 11, 2012, this tax was declared “partially unconstitutional” by the Federal Administrative Court in Leipzig. The judgment became final.

Finance Minister of North Rhine-Westphalia

Walter-Borjans held the office of finance minister in Hannelore Kraft's cabinets . He dedicated himself to the topics of tax evasion and tax justice as the main focus of his work. In 2011, as a member of the Federal Council , he spoke out against a draft bilateral tax law with Switzerland that had already been ratified by the black and yellow federal government . In his opinion, this would have meant a free pass for tax evaders, as it would have prevented the purchase of tax CDs . Against all opposition, Walter-Borjans continued to rely on the acquisition of records of alleged tax evaders. “The fear of being discovered is the most effective tool against tax evasion,” was his credo. The Federal Council voted against the law on November 23, 2012. Before the vote, Walter-Borjans, as representative of North Rhine-Westphalia, justified the state's disagreement.

In December 2012 Walter-Borjans planned a Federal Council initiative to tighten the statute of limitations for tax fraud. The North Rhine-Westphalian state government decided on this initiative on April 23, 2013, after the application was supplemented by further measures in cooperation with Lower Saxony and Rhineland-Palatinate. Prior to the Conference of Finance Ministers in May 2014. Walter-Borjans sat down in negotiations with the finance ministers of the other parties for tightening of amnesty self ads and agreed with his colleagues on changes to the existing regulations, which was chaired by Walter-Borjans in the conference were decided. Federal Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble supported the decision. The tightening came into force in January 2015.

In addition, as Minister of Finance, Norbert Walter-Borjans campaigned for increasing tax transparency and an expansion of citizen-friendliness in the NRW financial administration. In various initiatives, such as a more understandable tax assessment , taxpayers are to be informed about their respective tax contributions and their contribution to state benefits.

To curb tax fraud, Walter-Borjans also campaigned for the expansion of cashless payment transactions. His efforts to introduce manipulation-resistant cash registers through appropriate documentation software were aimed in the same direction.

The other cornerstones - especially his second term as finance minister after the state elections in May 2012 - included the initiative for tax equality for same-sex partnerships, which was only implemented after heated political debates and ultimately through a ruling by the Federal Constitutional Court , as well as the pressure to reorganize the Federal-state financial relations. For North Rhine-Westphalia, Walter-Borjans insisted on a fairer and more transparent distribution of taxpayers' money in the state financial equalization , in which the state previously paid high contributions and was still considered a "recipient country".

During the term of office of Norbert Walter-Borjans, both as Minister of Finance and as a member of the supervisory board, the former Westdeutsche Landesbank (WestLB) was wound up at the request of the European Commission because its equity increases from NRW state funds and its NRW state guarantees contradicted EU state aid law. Today's Portigon became the legal successor of WestLB in July 2012 . The Erste Abwicklungsanstalt (EAA), which also emerged from the demerger of WestLB, was given the task of handling risk-oriented papers and no longer profitable work areas and transferring them to a bad bank . During the term of office of the red-green state government, the Portigon workforce was reduced from just under 4,200 in 2010 to 1,300 in 2015 in accordance with the processing stages.

During his tenure as finance minister, Walter-Borjans initially implemented the preventive social policy of the red-green state government in a minority government, which aimed to reduce subsequent repair costs with immediate expenditure. The 2010 supplementary budget and the 2011 budget violated the state constitution due to excessive debts. The 2012 budget was criticized as unconstitutional because it was introduced into the state parliament too late and thus the rights of the state parliament were disregarded. Walter Borjans 'reform of civil servants' salaries , in which wage improvements were only provided for lower grades and not for higher grades, was also criticized in 2014 as unconstitutional. The debt level in North Rhine-Westphalia rose from 123.3 billion euros on December 31, 2009 to 174.4 billion euros on December 31, 2017, an increase of 41.4 percent.

To consolidate the state budget and to reduce net new debt and to comply with the debt brake in 2020, the NRW state cabinet decided on a series of savings. This also included a staggered transfer of the negotiated wage result of the employees to the officials of the country. After protests and a ruling by the State Constitutional Court in Münster, in particular against the planned two-year zero round for salaries of civil servants from grade A 13, the state government agreed in talks with trade unions to significantly reduce the planned savings from 700 million euros to 220 million euros. In the following years, the original savings target was to be achieved gradually.

As finance minister, Walter-Borjans was a member of the advisory board of the Deutsche Bundesbank branch in Düsseldorf and represented the state of North Rhine-Westphalia on the supervisory boards of NRW Bank , Ruhrkohle AG and Portigon AG (formerly WestLB). In addition, Walter-Borjans was Chairman of the Finance Committee of the Federal Council . On December 1, 2011, he was first elected chairman of the conference of finance ministers for the 2012 calendar year . Walter-Borjans took on this task again in the 2014 and 2016 calendar years.

After the state elections in North Rhine-Westphalia in 2017 and the election of the red-green government under Hannelore Kraft , Walter-Borjans lost the office of finance minister on June 27, 2017.

SPD party chairmanship

Norbert Walter-Borjans (l.) And Saskia Esken (r.) At the SPD regional conference for the election of the SPD chairmanship on September 10, 2019 in Nieder-Olm

In the election for the SPD chairmanship in 2019 , Walter-Borjans ran together with Saskia Esken, a member of the Bundestag . They were nominated by the SPD North Rhine-Westphalia . In the first ballot in October 2019, Esken and Walter-Borjans took second place with 21.0 percent of the vote, behind Klara Geywitz and Olaf Scholz , who received 22.7 percent of the vote. In the runoff election in November 2019, Esken and Walter-Borjans received 53.1 percent of the vote and Geywitz and Scholz 45.3 percent of the vote. At the federal party conference on December 6, 2019, Walter-Borjans were elected federal chairmen with 89.2 percent and Esken with 75.9 percent of the delegate's votes.

Political positions

Walter-Borjans was a supporter of John Maynard Keynes' economic policy during his studies . He advocates higher borrowing and against the debt brake .

In November 2018, Walter-Borjans called for people with lower and middle incomes to be relieved through tax policy and for people with high incomes to be “burdened a bit more”. In the fight against tax fraud , he advocates better legal protection for whistleblowers . In addition, Walter-Borjans accused some interest groups such as the Association of Taxpayers Germany and the Initiative Neue Soziale Marktwirtschaft (New Social Market Economy) for "actually wanting to secure the privileges of the very wealthy". He therefore called for "a much higher basic education in tax policy issues" as a "counter lobby".

In the fall of 2018, Walter-Borjans also recommended that internet companies prevent tax tricks by taxing sales with data. He therefore called for the introduction of country-by-country reporting obligations and demanded that the Federal Government, together with Finance Minister Olaf Scholz, “should change its position on this issue”. In the struggle for more tax justice, according to Walter-Borjans, the SPD showed too little attitude "for fear of its own courage".

In November 2019, Walter-Borjans criticized the German government's armaments policy and called for an end to arms exports to areas outside of Europe. With regard to the continuation of the grand coalition with the CDU / CSU, Walter-Borjans wanted, after winning the primary election among the SPD members, to have the next party conference voted on the basis of factual issues. However, this position has since been revised by Walter-Borjans together with his designated co-chair, Saskia Esken.

In January 2020, as SPD chairman, he demanded the introduction of a land appreciation tax, so that owners of land and buildings should pay part of the theoretical increase in value of their real estate as a tax. Such a tax would be calculated based on the current market value of the property. Homeowners in particular have achieved massive theoretical increases in value, which, however, can only be realized when they are sold. This triggered criticism above all from the CDU and FDP, who criticized the fact that this would further increase the already high rents, since landlords would transfer the land appreciation tax to the rent.

Walter-Borjans advocates the decriminalization of cannabis "under strict conditions and with strict attention to the protection of minors".


Norbert Walter-Borjans is married, has four grown children and lives in Cologne-Sülz . Since 1986 he has also had the surname of his wife, from whom he now lives separately. His new partner is Ingrid Hentschel. Sculpture is one of his hobbies ; He attended several marble workshops with the sculptor Peter Rosenzweig in Tuscany .


  • Taxes - the big bluff. The former NRW finance minister reports on his fight against tax evasion and refutes the myths that are spread about our tax system. Kiepenheuer & Witsch, Cologne 2018, ISBN 978-3-462-05176-6 .


Web links

Commons : Norbert Walter-Borjans  - Collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. ^ A b NRW finance minister Walter-Borjans: The star of the tax investigators. In: Retrieved October 12, 2019 .
  2. : Political and personal portrait
  3. : CV at Kabinett Kraft
  4. Walter, Norbert: Measurement of the economic and environmentally relevant consequences of federal trunk road construction in structurally weak areas . Transport publishing house J. Fischer. 1982
  5. n.v. Fairkehr instead of traffic . In: Der Spiegel . No. 19, 1987
  6. Berger, Peter. "The Ottoplatz is ideal" . In: Kölner Stadt-Anzeiger . August 13, 2008
  7. : Chinese construction machinery manufacturer Sany sets up European headquarters in Cologne
  8. : Kick-off event for participatory budgeting 2010
  9. : Municipal bed taxes
  10. (Federal Administrative Court) : Press release Federal Administrative Court Leipzig No. 71/2012 Accommodation tax partially unconstitutional
  11. “Voluntary disclosures are indispensable” , Interview from February 10, 2014 by Barbara Schmid on Spiegel Online
  12. Swiss tax agreement falls in the Federal Council by Federal Council November 28, 2012
  13. Walter-Borjans calls for a new limitation period for tax fraud dapd on December 7, 2012
  14. Cabinet resolves Federal Council initiative for more tax justice and against tax fraud April 23, 2013
  15. Stricter rules for voluntary disclosure are to come soon May 7, 2014
  16. Penalties for tax fraudsters are increasing, May 9, 2014
  17. Make lousy in the crisis, March 17, 2012
  18. Supplementary budget of red-green unconstitutional, March 15, 2011
  19. NRW budget 2011 violated the constitution, March 12, 2013
  20. ^ Constitutional Court reprimands Rot-Grün, October 30, 2012
  21. Tens of thousands of civil servants in North Rhine-Westphalia can count on more money, July 1, 2014
  22. ^ Public debt in North Rhine-Westphalia on December 31, 2009
  23. NRW succeeds in debt reduction: high per capita debt, August 2, 2018
  24. Norbert Walter-Borjans elected chairman of the conference of finance ministers December 1, 2011
  25. Minister Walter-Borjans elected chairman of the Finance Ministers' Conference December 5, 2013
  26. ^ Minister Walter-Borjans re-elected chairman of the conference of finance ministers December 3, 2015
  27. NRW state executive nominates Walter-Borjans and Esken. In: August 31, 2019, accessed August 31, 2019 .
  28. Scholz / Geywitz against Walter-Borjans / Esken in runoff election for SPD chairmanship. In: October 26, 2019, accessed October 26, 2019 .
  29. SPD-Basis votes for Saskia Esken and Norbert Walter-Borjans. In: November 30, 2019, accessed November 30, 2019 .
  30. ^ Esken and Walter-Borjans are new SPD leaders. In: December 6, 2019, accessed December 6, 2019 .
  31. ^ The man from the middle, November 17, 2019
  32. ^ SPD leader Walter-Borjans for the end of the debt brake, December 8, 2019
  36. Esken and Walter-Borjans want the SPD party conference to decide on GroKo. Retrieved December 5, 2019 .
  37. The SPD leadership cancels the revolt again. Retrieved December 5, 2019 .
  38. ^ "Skim off extreme growth in value": SPD wants new tax for landowners
  40. Joachim Aue: Norbert Walter-Borjans: "Stand behind the gunnery". June 27, 2016, accessed December 7, 2019 (German).
  41. Lukas Eberle, Christian Teevs: Walter-Borjans: The Bernie Sanders from Cologne-Sülz . In: Spiegel Online . November 2, 2019 ( [accessed November 7, 2019]).
  42. Andreas Damm: Cologne celebrities and their hobbies: wrest a shape from marble. August 6, 2014, accessed on December 1, 2019 (German).