German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble is to be replaced after the recent elections in Germany in September, in which Angela Merkel and her Christian Democrats party won the right to form the next coalition government. As a result of the election, Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble, after holding his post for the last eight years, is to be replaced — with Schäuble slated to become the president of the Bundestag (German parliament). At the last EU finance minister’s meeting of Euro-zone members, which occurred on the 9th October in Luxembourg City, the current 18 members threw a farewell party for their outgoing colleague. Among some of the gifts was the flag of the European Union, which was signed by all attending finance ministers. Among other presents was one from France: A vintage 2004 bottle of Bordeaux Grand Cru from the finance ministry’s own special wine reserve in Paris. However, one of the more unique gifts was that of a specially printed €100 bank note with a portrait of the soon-to-be-ex finance minister. Whether the European Central Bank has declared the note to be backed by euro funds itself is not clear. If the note is redeemable at the ECB, it would be the institution’s only personalised bank note.
The note was made up to look like a stack of €100 notes which has some characteristics of the current “Europa” euro bank note series launched in 2013. Germany was instrumental in the introduction of the euro single currency since it was agreed upon by the then-15 member states in 1997. By 1999, all participating countries had posted their official exchange rates against the euro, and these countries began pricing goods and services at both national and euro prices. On the 1st January 2002, twelve countries all made the change-over with more than 300 million Europeans affected in what was said to have been the largest currency change-over in world history.
Over the eight years of Schäuble’s tenure, there has been very serious financial turmoil in Europe, with Schäuble imposing Germany’s tough-love solutions for countries hit by the crisis: Spain, Portugal, Ireland, and especially Greece. Although a popular politician in Germany, the 75-year-old became a by-word for the government- (or German-) imposed austerity, which for some countries led to a decrease in economic revenue rather than an increase.
Schäuble’s last day as finance minister will be tomorrow. Peter Altmaier, a trusted advisor of Chancellor Merkel, has been named to replace Schäuble on the same day as interim Finance Minister. It is yet unclear if he will hold this position permanently since this will be known when Chancellor Merkel names her whole cabinet in the coming weeks.