|Chancellor Angela Merkel|
General Secretary Oliver Wittke
Head Volker Kauder
Spouse Ebba Herfs-Rottgen
Succeeded by Peter Altmaier
|Preceded by Sigmar Gabriel|
Preceded by Jurgen Ruttgers
Name Norbert Rottgen
Education University of Bonn
|Deputy Ursula Heinen-Esser
Role Former German Federal Minister of the Environment
Party Christian Democratic Union of Germany
Previous office German Federal Minister of the Environment (2009–2012)
Journal Interview with Norbert Röttgen, German Environment Minister | Journal Interview
Norbert Rottgen (born 2 July 1965) is a German politician of the Christian Democratic Union. He was Federal Minister for Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety from 2009 to 2012.
- Journal Interview with Norbert Röttgen, German Environment Minister | Journal Interview
- Early life and education
- Political career
- Federal Minister for Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety, 2009 2011
- Chairman of the Committee on Foreign Affairs
- Foreign policy
- Relations with Iran
- Relations with Turkey
- Climate change and the environment
- Relations with the African continent
- Other activities
Early life and education
Rottgen graduated from the Gymnasium of Rheinbach. After completing his Abitur, he started to study law at the University of Bonn in 1984. He passed his first law examination in 1989, his second examination in 1993 and practised as a lawyer in Cologne. He obtained a legal doctorate from the University of Bonn in 2001.
Rottgen joined the CDU in 1982 while he was still a highschool student. From 1992 until 1996, he served as the chair of the Junge Union, the youth organisation of CDU in the State of North Rhine-Westphalia.
Rottgen was elected to the Bundestag in 1994. From 2002 until 2005 he served as the legal policy spokesman of the parliamentary group of CDU/CSU. During the First Cabinet of the Grand Coalition of Angela Merkel in 2005, he served as the Chief Parliamentary Secretary of the CDU/CSU Parliamentary group in the Bundestag until 2009. He was also a member of the Parliamentary Control Panel, which provides parliamentary oversight of Germany’s intelligence services.
Federal Minister for Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety, 2009-2011
Following the 2009 federal elections, Rottgen was part of the CDU/CSU team in the negotiations with the FDP on a coalition agreement; he joined the working group on economic affairs and energy policy, led by Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg and Rainer Bruderle.
From 28 October 2009, Rottgen was the Federal Minister for Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety in the Second Cabinet of Angela Merkel. He also served as a member of the Board of Supervisory Directors at KfW from 28 October 2009 to 22 May 2012. From November 2010, he was the deputy chair of the CDU in Germany, as well as the chair of the CDU in the state of North Rhine-Westphalia. At the time, he was often mentioned as a potential successor to Merkel as chancellor.
Rottgen, in his capacity as environment minister, led the German delegations to the 2009 United Nations Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen, the 2010 United Nations Climate Change Conference in Cancun and the 2011 United Nations Climate Change Conference in Durban, respectively.
In May 2011, Rottgen announced his government’s plans to shut all of the nation’s nuclear power plants until 2022. The decision was based on recommendations of an expert commission appointed after the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster. Later that year, he teamed up with the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) in launching the Bonn Challenge, calling for 150 million hectares of forest – an area four times larger than Germany – to be reforested by 2020; the Bonn Challenge was later endorsed at the 2014 UN Climate Summit and supplemented by the New York Declaration on Forests, which calls for an end to deforestation by 2030.
Following the dissolution of the state's Landtag on 14 March 2012, Rottgen confirmed his intention to run in the subsequent election as the CDU's candidate for the office of Minister-President against the incumbent, Hannelore Kraft of the SPD. Rottgen ran against the debt-financed spending supported by Kraft, and even described the vote as a referendum on Merkel’s Europe policies. However, he was widely seen as having failed to commit himself whole-heartedly to state politics, refusing to promise that if he lost the election he would nonetheless lead the opposition in North Rhine-Westphalia; 59 percent of respondents to an FG Wahlen poll said his refusal to commit to the state “damaged the CDU.”
Following the election defeat of the CDU in North Rhine-Westphalia by a margin almost three times more than was predicted in polls, Rottgen resigned his position as head of the CDU in North Rhine-Westphalia. On 16 May 2012, Chancellor Merkel fired him under Article 64 of the German Basic Law as Minister for Environment; Peter Altmaier replaced him.
Chairman of the Committee on Foreign Affairs
Since 2014, Rottgen has been the chairman of the Bundestag's Committee on Foreign Affairs. He also serves on the advisory boards of the Hertie School of Governance in Berlin and the Fachhochschule des Mittelstands in Bielefeld.
In February 2014, Rottgen accompanied German President Joachim Gauck on a state visit to India – where they met with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Sonia Gandhi, among others – and Myanmar.
Rottgen is considered as an advocate of a more assertive German foreign policy. In an editorial for the Financial Times in March 2014, he argued that the only people who seemed not to realize that Germany was at the center of the Crimean crisis were “the Germans themselves.” When Russian state-run energy group Gazprom conducted an asset swap with its long-term German partner BASF, under which it increased its stake in Wingas, Rottgen raised concerns about the deal. In his opinion, expanding Gazprom activities in Germay are “deepening our dependence on Russia.”
Rottgen supported the European Union leaders' decision to impose sanctions on 21 individuals after the referendum in Crimea that paved the way for Putin to annex the region from Ukraine. By August 2014, he demanded that Europe respond to the escalation of violence in Ukraine by agreeing to further sanctions against Russia, saying that "[a]ny hesitation would be seen by [Russian President Vladimir] Putin as European weakness that would encourage him to keep going." However, he ruled out a U.S. proposal to arm Ukraine against Russia, calling it a "grave mistake" which "not only would [give] Putin a pretext to expand the war beyond eastern Ukraine, it would also serve his other goal to divide the West wherever he can.”
Amid the debate on sending military assistance to the Iraqi government following a dramatic push by Islamic State militants through northern Iraq in mid-2014, Rottgen told newspaper Die Welt that delivering weapons would violate the government's arms export guidelines.
Relations with Iran
In March 2014, Rottgen was part of a delegation of the European Council of Foreign Relations to Tehran, Iran. In an open letter published in prominent newspapers across Europe – including El Mundo, Corriere della Sera, Svenska Dagbladet, Tagesspiegel, and The Guardian – on 5 November 2014, he joined Javier Solana, Ana Palacio, Carl Bildt, Emma Bonino, Jean-Marie Guehenno and Robert Cooper in urging the EU3+3 countries (the UK, Germany and France and the US, China and Russia) and Iran to reach agreement on a comprehensive nuclear deal, arguing “that there may never again be an opportunity as good as this one to seal a final nuclear deal.“
Relations with Turkey
In a speech to parliament in April 2015, Rottgen urged his fellow parliamentarians to call the killing of hundreds of thousands of Armenians under Turkish rule in 1915 as genocidal and acknowledging that German actions at the time were partly to blame, adding that this recognition was overdue.
Climate change and the environment
Following the 2009 United Nations Climate Change Conference, Rottgen sharply criticized both U.S. President Barack Obama and China’s leadership when he said: “China doesn’t want to lead, and the U.S. cannot lead.” Writing in the Financial Times in 2010, he joined British Energy Minister Chris Huhne and French Ecology Minister Jean-Louis Borloo in urging the European Union to slash greenhouse gas emissions by 30 percent from the originally established 20 percent target by 2020.
Both Angela Merkel and Rottgen, the chief architects of the government’s energy transition plan, are thought to have pushed for a rapid nuclear phase-out with a view to raising the prospects for a possible future national coalition with the Green Party. In 2012, Roettgen’s plan to cut subsidies for solar power drew fire from opposition parties and the photovoltaic industry, which said the move threatened thousands of jobs in what was then the world’s biggest solar market by installed capacity.
Relations with the African continent
Rottgen has in the past voted in favor of German participation in United Nations peacekeeping missions as well as in United Nations-mandated European Union peacekeeping missions on the African continent, such as in Somalia – both Operation Atalanta and EUTM Somalia – (2011, 2012, 2013, 2014 and 2015), Darfur/Sudan (2010, 2011, 2012, 2013 and 2014), South Sudan (2011, 2012, 2013 and 2014), Mali (2013 and 2014) and the Central African Republic (2014). He abstained from the vote on extending the mandate for Operation Atalanta in 2009 and 2010.