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  • Konrad Werner: A pretty fishy masterplan


Konrad Werner: A pretty fishy masterplan

Berlin has a new "masterplan" for integrating refugees. It costs €238,000 and the one person it integrated really well was an old party colleague of Mayor Michael Müller.

Image for Konrad Werner: A pretty fishy masterplan
Michael Müller. Photo by Ulrich Horb, Genehmigung durch die Pressestelle in der SPD-Fraktion des Abgeordnetenhauses von Berlin (CC BY-SA 3.0)

Germany has a famous history of ex-politicians getting amazing business jobs slightly too quickly. There was Chancellor Gerhard Schröder, who became chairman of the board of the Nord Stream pipeline consortium, co-owned by Russia’s Gazprom, shortly after losing the 2005 election. Or Ronald Pofalla, Merkel’s chief of staff who joined the supervisory board at Deutsche Bahn. Or Daniel Bahr, the health minister who joined the Allianz insurance company. Maybe the best one was Dirk Niebel, the overseas development minister who got a job as a lobbyist for the weapons company Rheinmetall (in his interview he might have pointed out that he’d learned a lot about who to sell weapons to in any given conflict).

But what you don’t get so often is politicians working for companies who are working for the government – effectively getting paid taxpayer money for what an actual member of the government should be doing anyway. This is the situation for Lutz Diwell, former state secretary in the federal justice and interior ministries, who got a job for the US consultancy McKinsey to help draw up an “integration masterplan” for Berlin on how to deal with the arrival of all the refugees. We don’t know how much of the €238,000 that McKinsey is getting is being paid to Diwell, what he is actually doing – or in fact why McKinsey needed to hire him at all, given that Müller thought they were so good at integrating refugees that the Berlin government gave them the contract without putting it to a public tender.

But we do know that Diwell is a member of the SPD – the same party as Mayor Michael Müller – and that Müller knew that Diwell was being hired in January, before the contract with McKinsey was finalized, AND that Diwell had already worked for Müller “informally” as an advisor on refugee integration last year. We also know that Berlin already has an integration minister – Dilek Kolat – whose job you’d think would probably be to draw up an “integration masterplan” if one needed drawing up.

The other thing is that this quarter-of-a-million masterplan is pretty thin – the opposition says it’s not even clear how it’s going to be funded. The brilliantly-named Green party representative Ramona Pop also pointed out that the part of the masterplan about the job market didn’t make clear whether refugees would be safe from deportation even if they got a job. Still, at least Lutz Diwell has been well-integrated into the job market.

Listen to Konrad explain all this – and more – orally, on News des Nachrichtens, with Drew Portnoy: