CSU President Theo Waigel at the Ludwig Erhard summit.

Theo Waigel will turn 85 next week. The former federal finance minister and honorary president of the CSU can therefore rightly be considered an elder statesman. A time that also grants certain freedoms. “At my age you are free to say what you want, but it is better not to be lectured,” said Theo Waigel at the Europa Talk at the Weimer Media Group's Ludwig Erhard Summit on Lake Tegernsee. It is more about supporting the young generation and giving them opportunities.

Waigel is the only one in the room who has already worked with the summit's namesake, Ludwig Erhard. From 1972 to 1977, both politicians sat together in the German Bundestag. Waigel has often experienced the ups and downs as an elder statesman, said moderator Oliver Stock, publisher and editor-in-chief of Business Punk. “I'm concerned that we won't be able to do something innovative in a difficult situation,” Waigel said. “We don't understand what the tipping point would really mean.” Now the priority is, for example, defending alliances, “social issues will also have to take a backseat for one or two years.”

Müntefering's Courage

Among other things, because of the dogma of the black zero. “I think we should stick to it, including the debt brake,” Waigel said. Although, in his opinion, they shouldn't have been introduced in the first place. The debt brake now has constitutional status. Changing that now would be a negative sign. In the medium term, the motto “close to balance” applies. Germans are now ten years older than their parents, but nothing has grown accordingly. “We have to extend working life and give incentives to those who work longer,” he demanded.

According to Waigel, Franz Müntefering, former vice chancellor of the SPD in Angela Merkel's government, had the courage, but no one formulates something so fundamentally necessary anymore. “A 35-hour week with full compensation is absolutely absurd,” he says. “Politicians should not get involved in collective bargaining conflicts, but it must be said that people will have to make sacrifices. “Each home is taller than the last.” When asked about Karlsruhe's decision on the budget, Waigel replies that he was suspicious of this decision. “Budget clarity and budget truth” are required. “Every finance minister should know: the finance minister who wants to be popular does not deserve it. But: “After 30 years, he will be warmly received again,” Waigel said with a laugh.”

“A catastrophe”

The politician had words of praise about the relationship between the euro and the dollar. “Today we are not doing badly, the euro is the second strongest currency. Furthermore, there is no alternative to the euro in a united Europe: “Without the euro we would have 27 different currencies, we would have new appreciations and devaluations every day. It would be a catastrophe “And he adds: “If people like the AfD want to abolish Europe, then they are crazy.”

Waigel, who then pushed for the introduction of the common currency, also spoke about how the name euro came about. The French wanted ECU, it was a tough fight. “The German mark was not executable. Then we come to euros. Jean-Claude Juncker then said: “This doesn't sound particularly erotic.” By the way, Waigel's first suggestion was Franken: “Söder would have liked that too,” he said, laughing. The Bavarian Prime Minister comes from the region of the same name.

Waigel supports Merz

Speaking of Söder: “If you are born in Bavaria, you cannot easily be chancellor,” Waigel commented on the debate on the candidacy for chancellor within the Union. According to Waigel, Erhard became chancellor by deviating from Frankfurt and Ulm. He described as “very excellent” the relationship between the possible candidates for chancellor of the Union, Friedrich Merz and Markus Söder. Merz is the candidate in first place. “If he says he wants it, he does it.”

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