The advisor affair in the defense ministry becomes a case for an investigative committee of the bundestag. The representatives of grunen, FDP and the left in the defense committee agreed on the establishment of such a body.
It is supposed to clarify the deployment of external experts for a three-digit million sum under defense minister ursula von der leyen (CDU). The votes of the three opposition factions were sufficient for the appointment.
The affair was triggered in august by a report from the federal audit office, which strongly questioned the economic viability and legitimacy of the ministry’s use of consultants. In 2015 and 2016, at least 200 million euros were spent there on external expertise. The accusations of waste of tax revenues and nepotism are in the air.
Prior to the opposition’s decision, von der leyen had spent four hours in a special session of the defense committee on wednesday commenting on the affair for the second time. Her former secretary of state, katrin suder, however, stayed away from the meeting and would only answer questions from deputies in writing. This was the reason for the opposition groups to decide in favor of a subcommittee, as this can summon witnesses.
"It’s enough now, the only thing that will help now is an investigative committee," said grunen chairman tobias lindner. He stressed that the ministry of defense had had a chance to avert the committee. After the second special session, however, it had to be said: "we didn’t really get any smarter." The opposition, however, does not want to drag out the investigation. "It should be very condensed, we don’t want any distraction manovers," said the FDP chairwoman in the committee, marie-agnes strack-zimmermann.
Von der leyen reacted calmly to the decision. "This is the absolute right of the parliament", she said. The establishment of a committee of inquiry is a minority right that requires only a quarter of the votes in the defense committee. Grune, the left and the FDP together make up 11 of 36 deputies, which means they have more than the necessary 9 votes. The afd had already requested an investigative committee four weeks ago, but initially failed with its request.
During the last election period, von der leyen had brought suder from the consulting firm mckinsey into the ministry in order to make up for lost time in the rustic sector. Suder left this year shortly before the start of the consultant affair. Your testimony is considered indispensable by the opposition, especially with regard to the accusation of nepotism.
Von der leyen made it clear that she had no influence on the appearance of suder. "I am responsible for the staff of the ministry," she said. The CDU politician defended the use of external consultants. "It is undisputed that we need the projects ourselves, and thus also the advice of experts from auben," she said. It was largely about the topic of digitization. Because there is a "considerable need to catch up" and time pressure, external expertise is necessary.
However, von der leyen admitted that she had made mistakes in dealing with public procurement law. To prevent this in the future, the control mechanisms have been improved, especially with regard to the use of subcontractors.
When defense issues are investigated, the defense committee is transformed into a committee of inquiry, i.E. It has the same membership. This special arrangement is due to the particular sensitivity of security issues. The committee is due to meet in the first week of the bundestag’s session in the new year, probably on 16. January still to be formally decided. Then he can start his work immediately.