Friedrich Merz

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Friedrich Merz
Friedrich Merz 2017.jpg
Leader of the CDU/CSU Group in the Bundestag
In office
29 February 2000 – 22 September 2002
DeputyMichael Glos
Preceded byWolfgang Schäuble
Succeeded byAngela Merkel
Member of the Bundestag
for Hochsauerlandkreis
In office
16 October 1994 – 27 September 2009
Preceded byFriedrich Tillmann
Succeeded byPatrick Sensburg
Member of the European Parliament
for Germany
In office
18 June 1989 – 12 June 1994
ConstituencyParty List
Personal details
Born (1955-11-11) 11 November 1955 (age 63)
Brilon, West Germany (now Germany)
Political partyChristian Democratic Union
Other political
EducationUniversity of Bonn
WebsiteOfficial website

Friedrich Merz (born 11 November 1955) is a German lawyer and politician of the centre-right Christian Democratic Union (CDU). He served as a Member of the European Parliament 1989–1994, a member of the Bundestag 1994–2009, and as the chairman of CDU/CSU parliamentary group 2000–2002. In 2018 he announced his candidacy in the CDU leadership election in December 2018.[1]

Merz has worked as a judge and as a corporate lawyer. He was a full-time politician from 1989 to 2009. He was elected chairman of the CDU/CSU group in the same year as Angela Merkel was elected chairman of the CDU, and at the time they were rivals for the leadership of the party.[2] In 2002, he stepped down as chairman in favour of Merkel. In 2009 he withdrew from politics to work as a corporate lawyer, and has served on the boards of numerous companies. He announced his return to politics in 2018.

Merz has described himself as socially conservative and economically liberal, and is seen as a representative of the conservative and pro-business wings of the CDU.[3] He has been chairman of the Atlantik-Brücke association which promotes German-American understanding and Atlanticism, and is a staunch supporter of the European Union and NATO, having described himself as "a truly convinced European, a convinced transatlanticist."[4]

Background and early life[edit]

Friedrich Merz was born in Brilon in the state of North Rhine-Westphalia in then-West Germany to a Roman Catholic family.[5] He is the son of Joachim Merz (born 1924), a judge who was a member of the CDU until 2007; his mother was born Sauvigny and is of French Huguenot ancestry.[6] After finishing his Abitur exam in 1975 Merz served his military service as a soldier with a self-propelled artillery unit of the German Army. From 1976 he studied law with a scholarship from the Konrad Adenauer Foundation, first at the University of Bonn, later at the University of Marburg. He became a member of KDStV Bavaria Bonn [de], a Catholic student fraternity founded in 1844 that is part of the Cartellverband. After finishing law school in 1985 he became a judge in Saarbrücken. In 1986 he quit his position as a judge in order to work as an in-house attorney-at-law at the German Chemical Industry Association in Bonn and Frankfurt from 1986 to 1989.[7] Merz is also a licensed private pilot and owns his own airplane.[8]

Political career prior to 2009[edit]

In 1972, at the age of seventeen, he became a member of the CDU's youth wing, the Young Union,[5] and he has been described by German media as a member of the "Andean Pact," a supposed network of influential CDU members formed by members of the Young Union during a trip to the South American Andes region in 1979.[9] He became President of the Brilon branch of the Young Union in 1980.

Member of the European Parliament, 1989–1994[edit]

Merz successfully ran as a candidate in the 1989 European Parliament election and served one term as a Member of the European Parliament until 1994. He was a member of the Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs and of the parliament's delegation for relations with Malta.

Member of the German Bundestag, 1994–2009[edit]

From the 1994 German elections, he served as member of the Bundestag for his constituency, the Hochsauerland. In his first term, he was a member of the Finance Committee.

In October 1998 Merz became vice-chairman and in February 2000 Chairman of the CDU/CSU parliamentary group (alongside Michael Glos), succeeding Wolfgang Schäuble. In this capacity, he was the opposition leader in the Bundestag during Chancellor Gerhard Schröder's first term.

Ahead of the 2002 elections, Edmund Stoiber included Merz in his shadow cabinet for the Christian Democrats’ campaign to unseat incumbent Schröder as chancellor. During the campaign, Merz served as Stoiber's expert for financial markets and the national budget.[10] After Stoiber's electoral defeat, Angela Merkel assumed the leadership of the parliamentary group; Merz again served as vice-chairman until 2004. From 2002 to 2004, he was also a member of the executive board of the CDU, again under the leadership of Merkel.

Between 2005 and 2009, Merz was a member of the Committee on Legal Affairs. By 2007, he announced he would not be running for political office in the 2009 elections.

Career in the private sector[edit]

Upon leaving politics, Merz has worked as a corporate lawyer. His work as a lawyer has made him a multimillionaire.[11] He has taken on numerous positions on corporate boards, including the following:

Between 2010 and 2011, Merz represented the shareholders of WestLB, a publicly owned institution that had previously been Germany's third-largest lender, in talks with bidders.[17] In 2012, he joined Norbert Röttgen’s campaign team for the North Rhine-Westphalia state election as advisor on economic policy.[18] He served as a CDU delegate to the Federal Convention for the purpose of electing the President of Germany in 2012[19] and in 2017.

In November 2017, Merz was appointed by Minister-President Armin Laschet of North Rhine-Westphalia as his Commissioner for Brexit and Transatlantic Relations, an unpaid advisory position.[20][12]

He is also a Senior Counsel at Mayer Brown's Düsseldorf office,[21] having joined the firm's corporate finance team in 2004, after spending several years at Cornelius Bartenbach Haesemann.[22]

Return to politics[edit]

After Angela Merkel announced her intention to step down as Leader of the CDU party, Merz announced he would run in the subsequent party leadership election in December 2018.[1] His candidacy was promoted by the former CDU chairman and "crown prince" of the Kohl era, Wolfgang Schäuble.[23]

Political positions[edit]

Friedrich Merz has focused on economic policy, foreign and security policy and family policy. He has described himself as socially conservative and economically liberal, and is seen as a representative of the conservative and pro-business wings of the CDU.[3] He has been chairman of the Atlantik-Brücke association which promotes German-American understanding and Atlanticism, and is a staunch supporter of the European Union and NATO. In 2018, he described himself as "a truly convinced European, a convinced transatlanticist" and said that "I stand for a cosmopolitan Germany whose roots lie in Christian ethics and the European Enlightenment and whose most important political allies are the democracies of the West. I gladly use this expression again: The democracies of the West."[24][4] He especially advocates closer relations between Germany and France. Merz has criticized Donald Trump more harshly than Angela Merkel did and has especially criticized Trump's trade war against Europe.[25] In 2018, he co-authored an article in defence of the European project, which among other things called for "an army for Europe."[26]

Other activities (selection)[edit]

  • Deutsche Nationalstiftung, Member of the Senate[27]
  • Peace of Westphalia Prize, Member of the Jury[28]
  • Bayer Foundation for German and International Labor and Business Law, Member of the Board of Trustees (1998-2002)
  • KfW, Member of the Supervisory Board (2003-2004)[29]
  • Ludwig Erhard Foundation, Member (1998-2005)

Personal life[edit]

Friedrich Merz is married to the judge Charlotte Merz. He has three children and resides in Arnsberg in the Sauerland region. In 2005, the couple established the Friedrich und Charlotte Merz Stiftung, a foundation supporting projects in the education sector.[30]


  1. ^ a b Berlin, Kommentar von Stefan Braun (2018). "Die große Zeitenwende ist eine Chance für die CDU". (in German). ISSN 0174-4917. Retrieved 2018-10-29.
  2. ^ Huggler, Justin (31 October 2018). "Merkel rival Friedrich Merz emerges as surprise early frontrunner to succeed chancellor" – via
  3. ^ a b Escritt, Thomas. "Conservative contenders vie to overturn Merkel's centrism".
  4. ^ a b WELT (31 October 2018). "Merz will CDU-Chef werden: „Wir brauchen Aufbruch und Erneuerung, keinen Umsturz"" – via
  5. ^ a b Lohse, Eckart; Berlin. "Friedrich Merz: Dieser Kandidat passt nicht auf einen Bierdeckel" – via
  6. ^ Claus Jacobi, Im Rad der Geschichte: Deutsche Verhältnisse, p. 166, Herbig, 2002
  7. ^ "Friedrich Merz - Atlantik-Brücke e.V." Atlantik-Brücke e.V. (in German). Retrieved 2018-10-30.
  8. ^ "Ex-CDU-Star Friedrich Merz und der Karriereknick - manager magazin".
  9. ^ Schumacher, Hajo (3 November 2005). "Union: "Anden-Pakt" nimmt Friedrich Merz auf" – via Spiegel Online.
  10. ^ Wahlkampf: Stoiber-Team ohne Kompetenz bei den Staatsfinanzen Spiegel Online, January 22, 2002.
  11. ^
  12. ^ a b Ministerpräsident Armin Laschet beruft Friedrich Merz zum Beauftragten für die Folgen des Brexits und die transatlantischen Beziehungen Minister-President of North Rhine-Westphalia, press release of November 7, 2017.
  13. ^ Eyk Henning (January 17, 2016), BlackRock Hires Former Merkel Deputy for Its German Operations Wall Street Journal.
  14. ^ Wechsel im Aufsichtsratsvorsitz der AXA Konzern AG AXA Konzern AG, press release of July 24, 2007.
  15. ^ Merz im Verwaltungsrat der Schweizer Stadler Rail Group Handelsblatt, March 28, 2006.
  16. ^ 2010 Annual Report Interseroh.
  17. ^ Jack Ewing (February 16, 2011), For Germany’s Banks, a Grim Future New York Times.
  18. ^ Rainer Kellers (March 23, 2012), Merz soll Wirtschaftskompetenz zeigen: Der "alte Freund" und das Nicht-Comeback Westdeutscher Rundfunk.
  19. ^ Ordentliche Mitglieder der 15. Bundesversammlung Bundestag.
  20. ^ Christian Wernicke (November 7, 2017), Regierungsjob für Friedrich Merz Süddeutsche Zeitung.
  21. ^ "Friedrich Merz".
  22. ^ Riedel, Donata (December 23, 2004), "Nicht süchtig nach Politik: Friedrich Merz", Handelsblatt.
  23. ^ "Merkel-Nachfolge: Schäuble beförderte Merz' Kandidatur für CDU-Vorsitz" – via
  24. ^ Blick. "Wer ist Friedrich Merz? Merkels Nachfolger für den CDU-Parteivorsitz".
  25. ^
  26. ^
  27. ^ Senate, Deutsche Nationalstiftung.
  28. ^ Members of the Jury Wirtschaftliche Gesellschaft für Westfalen und Lippe.
  29. ^ 2004 Annual Report KfW.
  30. ^ About Friedrich und Charlotte Merz Stiftung.

External links[edit]