He tried to sue and failed. Gerhard Schröder (SPD) wanted back the privileges to which he was entitled as former Chancellor of the Federal Republic. He was primarily concerned with his office with up to seven employees in Berlin. As a former chancellor, he also has other special rights. A driver, for example, pension, security guards. But the budget committee of the Bundestag withdrew some of his privileges in May 2022 (stern reported) because he “no longer fulfills any ongoing obligations from the office”. Schröder’s lawsuit before the Federal Administrative Court has now failed.

All former heads of government have been granted certain rights in the past. In its response to a small query from the AfD, the Bundestag described this as “longstanding state practice […] to support the fulfillment of subsequent official duties”. For example, in lectures, publications, award ceremonies or patronage. Private needs are excluded.

The privileges of ex-Chancellor Merkel (CDU) and her predecessors have not yet been regulated by law, apart from the pension they are entitled to. Before these were withdrawn from Gerhard Schröder, the privileges were available for life.

The team is the biggest expense in the former chancellor’s budget. Merkel, Schröder and other ex-Chancellors have their own employees at their disposal.

Angela Merkel (in office from 2005 to 2021) has the largest staff to date with a total of nine people. According to the German Bundestag, the costs for this “depend on the specific occupation”. Positions with a yearly value of around 684,000 euros were estimated and approved, calculated using the personnel costs of 2021 of the Federal Ministry of Finance. It is the most expensive staff of all previous former chancellors.

Gerhard Schröder (1998 to 2005) was granted seven employees after his chancellorship. The Bundestag lists the costs for this in an answer to a small request from the AfD. In 2016, Schröder’s personnel costs were still around 557,000 euros, but then decreased annually, since all of his employees presumably resigned as a result of the Russian war of aggression in Ukraine in 2022. While around 419,000 euros were listed for his team of five at the time in 2021, in 2022 it was only 34,000 euros.

According to the Bundestag, ex-Chancellor Helmut Kohl (1982 to 1998; CDU) employed seven people in 2005, and ten years later it was six. The total cannot be calculated exactly. But in 2012, the star calculated more than 400,000 euros in personnel costs per year, following the salary and pay tables for the public service.

Stern also calculated that former Chancellor Helmut Schmidt (1974 to 1982; SPD) would have personnel costs of around 350,000 euros. According to the Bundestag, he was also approved for six positions in his office.

The budget committee decided in 2019 that future chancellors in retirement will have to be content with a maximum of five employees. However, this only applies after Chancellor Scholz.

Former chancellors are entitled to office space in the Bundestag, the costs are financed by the parliamentary groups of the parties. Schröder’s office cost 407,000 euros in 2021, for example, writes the federal government in response to a small request from the AfD parliamentary group.

Former employees are entitled to around 35 percent of the chancellor’s basic salary. During Gerhard Schröder’s seven-year tenure, this results in a monthly income of around 8,300 euros. In the case of Angela Merkel, the monthly payments are around 15,000 euros.

At the time, Helmut Kohl had a pension of 12,800 euros a month. Helmut Schmidt’s pension is unknown, the Handelsblatt estimated around 6,700 euros in 2015 after his eight-year tenure.

To this end, the former chancellors are reimbursed for travel expenses, both for the former chancellors themselves and for their employees.

Both Angela Merkel and Gerhard Schröder have received personal security since the end of their term of office. The Federal Criminal Police Office (BKA) makes this available, depending on the assessment of the possible risk. In addition to people, their offices and residences are also protected, which, according to the Federal Audit Office, leads to annual expenditure in the millions. There are also other cost items for safety technology and construction work.

The traffic light coalition generally reorganized the alimony of former Federal Chancellors and Federal Presidents in 2022 and made it dependent on whether the former top politicians actually still take on tasks. The example of Gerhard Schröder shows that you cannot simply sue back for privileges that have been withdrawn if you no longer take on any or only a few state-supporting tasks.

Sources: Bundestag, small inquiry AfD, Chancellor, Federal Ministry of Finance, Federal Audit Office, Tagesschau, NDR, Handelsblatt