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Minister of Finance (Germany)

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Minister of Finance (Germany)

Federal Ministry of Finance
Bundesministerium der Finanzen (BMF)
Agency overview
Formed 14 July 1879 (Reichsschatzamt)
Jurisdiction Cabinet of Germany
Headquarters Detlev-Rohwedder-Haus
Wilhelmstraße 97, 10117 Berlin
Employees 700
Minister responsible Wolfgang Schäuble, Federal Minister of Finance
Agency executives Steffen Kampeter, Parliamentary State Secretary
Hartmut Koschyk, Parliamentary State Secretary
Bernard Beus, State Secretary
Werner Gatzer, State Secretary
Thomas Steffen, State Secretary

The Federal Ministry of Finance (German: Bundesministerium der Finanzen), abbreviated BMF, is the cabinet-level finance ministry of Germany, with its seat at the Detlev-Rohwedder-Haus in Berlin and a secondary office in Bonn. The current Federal Minister of Finance is Wolfgang Schäuble (CDU).


In German politics, the Ministry of Finance beside the Interior, Foreign, Justice and Defence ministries is counted as one of the "classical portfolios" (denoted by the definite article der), which were also part of the first German government under Otto von Bismarck following the Unification of 1871.

Pre-war ministry on Wilhelmplatz, 1930s

Fiscal policy in the German Empire was predominantly the domain of the various states responsible for all direct taxation according to the 1833 Zollverein treaties. The federal government merely received indirect contributions from the states. Matters of fiscal policy at the federal level initially was the exclusive responsibility of the German Chancellery under Otto von Bismarck. However, in 1877 a special finance department was established, which with effect from 14 July 1879 was separated from the chancellery as the Imperial Treasury (Reichsschatzamt), a federal agency in its own right. With its seat vis-à-vis on Wilhelmplatz in Berlin, it was first headed by a subsecretary, and from 1880 by a Secretary of State only answerable to the chancellor.

After World War I, the newly established Weimar Republic had to face huge reparations and a fiscal emergency. To cope with the implications, the former Reichsschatzamt in 1919 was re-organised as a federal ministry, the Reichsministerium der Finanzen, as supreme financial authority headed by a federal minister. Besides a Reich Treasury Ministry (Reichsschatzministerium) was established for the administration of the federal property, both agencies were merged in 1923.

Already in the German cabinet of Chancellor Franz von Papen, Undersecretary Lutz Graf Schwerin von Krosigk was appointed Finance Minister in 1932, an office he held throughout the Nazi era until 1945. The ministry played a vital role in financing the German re-armament, in the "Aryanization" of Jewish property ("Reich Flight Tax"), German war economy, and the plundering of occupied countries in World War II. The budget deficit had already reached heady hights on the eve of the war, aggrandised by hidden Mefo and Oeffa bill financing. In turn, saving banks and credit institutions were obliged to sign war bonds while price stability was enforced by government intervention and the German public was called up to bank surplus money.

After World War II the ministry was re-established in 1949 and renamed the West German Bundesministerium der Finanzen.[1] Since 1999, the Detlev-Rohwedder-Haus (former Air Ministry Building) in Berlin has been the headquarters of the ministry.

Structure and function

The Ministry is the supreme federal authority in revenue administration and governs a number of subordinate federal, intermediate, and local authorities such as the Federal Centre for Data Processing and Information Technology (ZIVIT). The Ministry’s wider portfolio includes public-law agencies and corporations such as the Federal Finance Regulator (BaFin) and Real Estate regulatory bodies. The finance minister is the only cabinet minister who can veto a decision of the government if it would lead to additional expenditure.

The Finance Ministry is responsible for all aspects of tax and revenue policy in Germany and plays a significant role in European Union policy. It has nine directorates-general:[2]

  • Directorate-General Z (Central Services): Deals with all ministerial organizational matters, including human resources, IT, occupational training, management, and administration
  • Directorate-General I (Fiscal and Macroeconomic Affairs): Determines the strategic focus of the Ministry’s fiscal policy instruments, forecasts public budget trends and conducts macroeconomic research
  • Directorate-General II (Federal Budget): Responsible for drawing up the federal budget by calculating revenue and spending for each government policy area.
  • Directorate-General III (Customs and Excise): Responsible for levying customs and excise duties, as well as for monitoring cross-border goods traffic.
  • Directorate-General IV (Taxation): Together with the other member states of the EU, the Ministry works to improve coordination among the different systems of taxes.
  • Directorate-General V (Financial Relations and Law): Coordinates financial relations between central, regional and local governments. Also responsible for public law, legal affairs, and handling proceedings before Germany’s Federal Constitutional Court and the European courts. Furthermore, this directorate-general deals with settlement of war burdens, compensation for National Socialist injustices, and unresolved property issues in eastern Germany
  • Directorate-General VII (Financial Market Policy): Manages the federal debt, including issuance of securities for financial markets and private investors which ensure the budgeted volume of credit is obtained when needed and at market rates. Also responsible for the Bundesbank and the European Central Bank. Shapes the legal framework for financial markets through its capital market policy and exercises legal supervision over the German financial watchdog agency BaFin.
  • Directorate-General VIII (Privatisation): Sets the policy for managing state holdings which is then undertaken by individual government departments. Operates a real estate institute that markets properties that the German Government no longer needs, and operates standardised facility management for federal properties.
  • Directorate-General E (European Policy): Responsible for coordinating the German Government’s European economic and financial policy under the EU Treaty.

Subordinate agencies

Detlev-Rohwedder-Haus, Berlin headquarters
entrance to the headquarters in Bonn

The federal ministry directly governs the following agencies:[3]

  • Higher federal authorities
    • Federal Central Tax Office (BZSt)
    • Federal Office of Central Services and Unresolved Property Issues (BADV)
    • Federal Equalisation of Burdens Office (BAA)
    • Federal Spirits Monopoly Administration (BfB)
  • Intermediate and local authorities
  • Other agencies
    • Centre for Data Processing and Information Technology (ZIVIT)
    • Training and Knowledge Centre (BWZ)

Legally independent entities in the Ministry's wider portfolio include:

  • Federal Financial Supervisory Authority (BaFin)
  • Financial Market Stabilisation Fund (SoFFin)
  • Federal Agency for Financial Market Stabilisation (FMSA)
  • Institute for Federal Real Estate (BImA)
  • Federal Institute for Special Tasks Arising from Unification (BvS)
  • Federal Posts and Telecommunications Agency (BAnst PT)
    • Federal Pensions Service for Posts and Telecommunications (BPS-PT)
    • Posts and Telecommunications Accident Fund (UKPT)
    • Museum Foundation for Posts and Telecommunications (MusStiftPT)

Federal Ministers of Finance

Main article: List of German finance ministers

Political Party:       CSU       CDU       FDP       SPD

Party Term of Office Chancellor
Fritz Schäffer
CSU 20 September 1949 29 October 1957 Adenauer
(I • II)
Franz Etzel
CDU 29 October 1957 14 November 1961 Adenauer
Heinz Starke
FDP 14 November 1961 19 November 1962 Adenauer
Rolf Dahlgrün
FDP 14 December 1962 28 October 1966 Adenauer (V)
Erhard (I • II)
Kurt Schmücker
CDU 8 November 1966 30 November 1966 Erhard
Franz Josef Strauß
CSU 1 December 1966 21 October 1969 Kiesinger
Alex Möller
SPD 22 October 1969 13 May 1971 Brandt
Karl Schiller
SPD 13 May 1971 7 July 1972
Helmut Schmidt
(b. 1918)
SPD 7 July 1972 1 May 1974 Brandt
Hans Apel
SPD 16 May 1974 15 February 1978 Schmidt
(I • II)
Hans Matthöfer
SPD 16 February 1978 28 April 1982 Schmidt
(II • III)
Manfred Lahnstein
(b. 1937)
SPD 28 April 1982 1 October 1982 Schmidt
Gerhard Stoltenberg
CDU 4 October 1982 21 April 1989 Kohl
Theodor Waigel
(b. 1939)
CSU 21 April 1989 27 October 1998 Kohl
Oskar Lafontaine
(b. 1943)
SPD 27 October 1998 18 March 1999 Schröder
Hans Eichel
(b. 1941)
SPD 12 April 1999 22 November 2005 Schröder
Peer Steinbrück
(b. 1947)
SPD 22 November 2005 28 October 2009 Merkel
Wolfgang Schäuble
(b. 1942)
CDU 28 October 2009 Incumbent Merkel

See also


  1. ^ Die Geschichte des BMF (archived)
  2. ^ BMF: What We Do (English) retrieved 1 June 2012.
  3. ^ BMF: Subordinate Agencies

External links

  • Official website (German)
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