Peter Ramsauer

Peter Ramsauer (born 10 February 1954) is a German politician of the Christian Social Union in Bavaria (CSU) who served as the Federal Minister of Transport, Building and Urban Development in the Second Merkel cabinet. He has been described as the self-appointed "shepherd" of the German language, seeking to purify it, especially of English loanwords.[1]

Peter Ramsauer
Peter Ramsauer
Minister for Transport, Building and Urban Development
In office
28 October 2009  17 December 2013
ChancellorAngela Merkel
Preceded byWolfgang Tiefensee
Succeeded byAlexander Dobrindt
First Deputy Leader of the CDU/CSU Group in the Bundestag
In office
21 November 2005  28 October 2009
LeaderVolker Kauder
Preceded byMichael Glos
Succeeded byHans-Peter Friedrich
Member of the Bundestag
for Traunstein
Assumed office
20 December 1990
Preceded byMatthias Engelsberger
Personal details
Born (1954-02-10) 10 February 1954
Traunwalchen, Bavaria,
West Germany
Political partyChristian Social Union
Alma materLudwig Maximilian University of Munich

Early life and education

Ramsauer was born in the Upper Bavarian village of Traunwalchen, since 1978 part of Traunreut. He completed his Abitur at the Staatliches Landschulheim Marquartstein gymnasium in 1973 – with a year abroad at Eton College[2] – and studied business economics at the Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich, where he obtained his Diploma in 1979 and his PhD in 1985.

Ramsauer has also qualified as a professional miller in accordance with the traditional occupation of his ancestry. He speaks English, French and Italian.[3] In addition, he is also a competent pianist.

Ramsauer is married and has four daughters. His wife Susanne, a home economics teacher, is a cousin of American actress Sandra Bullock.

Political career

Ramsauer joined the conservative Young Union (JU) youth organisation in 1972 and the CSU in 1973. He was elected Bavarian vice chairman of the JU in 1983 and vice chairman of the CSU in 2008.

In 1978 Ramsauer obtained a seat in the municipal diet (Stadtrat) of Traunreut and in 1984 became a member of the district assembly of Traunstein.

Ramsauer ran successfully in the 1990 federal election and has been a member of the Bundestag parliament since then. From 1994 until 1998, he was a member of the parliament’s Council of Elders, which – among other duties – determines daily legislative agenda items and assigning committee chairpersons based on party representation. From 1998 to 2005 he served as CSU Chief Whip of the CDU/CSU parliamentary group.

Ramsauer was elected to the head of the Bundestag group of CSU parliamentarians in 2005, succeeding Michael Glos; in that capacity, he led the CDU/CSU parliamentary group with his co-chair from the CDU, Volker Kauder. From 2005 until 2009, he also served on the Committee on the Election of Judges (Wahlausschuss), which is in charge of appointing judges to the Federal Constitutional Court of Germany.In the 2009 elections Ramsauer was re-elected by 54.6 percent of the votes cast.

On 29 October 2009 Ramsauer was appointed Federal Minister of Transport, Building and Urban Development at the behest of Chancellor Angela Merkel, succeeding Wolfgang Tiefensee. On the occasion of the sixtieth anniversary of the diplomatic relations between German and India, he participated in the first joint cabinet meeting of the two countries’ governments in Delhi in May 2011.[4]

Since the 2013 elections, Ramsauer has been serving as chairman of the Committee on Economic Affairs and Energy. In the negotiations to form another coalition government under the leadership of Merkel following the 2017 federal elections, he was part of the working group on economic policy, led Thomas Strobl, Alexander Dobrindt and Brigitte Zypries. He has since been serving on the Committee on Economic Cooperation and Development.

Political positions

Economic policy

In 2010, in his capacity as transport minister, Ramsauer rejected plans for an initial public offering of rail operator Deutsche Bahn, arguing that the company first needed to focus on improving quality, security, cleanliness, punctuality and reliability of its trains.[5]

In 2014, Ramsauer publicly criticized France for announcing plans to buy a 20 percent stake in Alstom despite its heavy debts and budget deficit and accused the country’s government of showing "ice-cold" national interests in choosing U.S. firm General Electric over German Siemens for an alliance with Alstom.[6] When Deutsche Bank came under pressure after the United States Department of Justice requested it pay $14 billion to settle claims of mis-selling mortgage-backed securities in 2016, Ramsauer accused the Obama Administration of measures that “have the characteristics of an economic war.”[7]

In October 2016, Ramsauer accompanied Federal Minister for Economic Affairs and Energy Sigmar Gabriel to Tehran to attend the German-Iranian Joint Economic Commission’s first meeting in 15 years.[8]

Relations to Russia

In 2007, Ramsauer accompanied Minister President Edmund Stoiber of Bavaria to a meeting with President Vladimir Putin.[9] In July 2010, he accompanied Merkel on an official trip to Moscow for meetings with President Dmitry Medvedev.

Amid a 2014 debate over whether Germany needs to rethink its energy strategy and reduce its dependence on Russian gas imports due to the Ukrainian crisis, Ramsauer spoke out in favor of considering importing shale gas from the United States, or alternative embracing "domestic resources".[10] In November 2015, in his capacity as chairman of the German Parliament’s Committee on Economic Affairs and Energy, he agreed with his Russian counterpart Ivan Grachev to set up an informal German-Russian working group on energy cooperation, convening parliamentarians and business representatives from both countries.[11]

European integration

On January 27, 2015, Ramsauer voted against the Merkel government’s proposal for a four-month extension of Greece's bailout; in doing so, he joined a record number of 29 dissenters from the CDU/CSU parliamentary group who expressed skepticism about whether the Greek government under Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras could be trusted to deliver on its reform pledges.[12]

Human rights

In June 2017, Ramsauer voted against Germany’s introduction of same-sex marriage.[13][14]


Recognition of the Polish-German border

During a ballot in Bundestag on 17 October 1991, Ramsauer voted against officially accepting the Oder-Neisse line, which serves as the border between Germany and Poland since the aftermath of World War II, as the final Polish-German Frontier.[15]

Alleged racist attack

On 30 June 2016 Peter Ramsauer made an allegedly racist attack against a Greek photojournalist during a meeting between Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras and German Vice Chancellor Sigmar Gabriel. During the German Delegation's visit at the Greek Prime Minister's official seat, Ramsauer had an accidental physical contact with the photojournalist. As a result Ramsauer attacked verbally the photojournalist shouting "Don't touch me you filthy Greek" first in German language ("Fass mich nicht an, Du dreckiger Grieche") and later in English. The incident was confirmed by the official photographer of the German Vice Chancellor and by employees of the embassy in Athens. Ramsauer denies having insulted the photojournalist but admits having received unpleasant physical contact by him.[16][17][18][19][20][21][22][23] In an interview for television channel ZDF in 2015, Ramsauer compared Greek leaders to "dancing bears around a circus ring".[24] Ramsauer has been the most prominent politician in Germany to come out in favour of Greece leaving the euro zone.[25]

Arab-Israel conflict

Since June 2014, Ramsauer has been the President of de:Ghorfa, an association that facilitates the commercial documents of companies that want to export to Arab countries. Ghorfa has been the subject of controversy for helping companies make sure they avoid any trade with Israel, for example by issuing certificates verifying that no product parts were produced in Israel.[26] [27]

Member of the far-right fraternity Deutsche Burschenschaft

Peter Ramsauer has been a prominent member of the fraternity de:Deutsche Burschenschaft that has ties to circles of the right extremist National Democratic Party of Germany. Deutsche Burschenschaft has been accused for neonazism and its newspaper debates the alleged historical merits of Nazi criminals such as Rudolf Hess and Adolf Hitler. Ramsauer's fraternity left the Deutsche Burschenschaft as a consequence of these controversies.[28][29]

Other activities

Corporate boards

  • Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ), Member of the Supervisory Board (since 2018)
  • Aebi Schmidt Holding (ASH), Member of the Board of Directors[30]
  • Münchener Hypothekenbank, Member of the Supervisory Board (since 2014)[31]
  • Gothaer Versicherungsbank, Member of the Advisory Board
  • CNC Communications & Network Consulting, Member of the Board of Experts
  • SKW Stahl-Metallurgie Holding, Member of the Advisory Board (2002-2006)
  • KfW, ex-officio Member of the Board of Supervisory Directors (2009-2013)
  • German Energy Agency (DENA), Member of the Supervisory Board (2009-2012)
  • Odewald & Companie, Member of the Advisory Board (2005-2009)

Non-profit organizations


  1. No Denglisch The Economist
  2. Hans Peter Schütz (July 16, 2017), Peter Ramsauer: A Hund ist er halt scho Stern.
  3. Hans Peter Schütz (July 16, 2017), Peter Ramsauer: A Hund ist er halt scho Stern.
  4. Günther Bannas (May 30, 2011), Hoffnung auf „Eurofighter“-Geschäft: Erste deutsch-indische Regierungskonsultationen Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung.
  5. Maria Sheahan (July 17, 2010), Deutsche Bahn IPO not on agenda: transport minister Reuters.
  6. Alexandra Hudson (June 23, 2014), Merkel ally criticizes French over Alstom deal Reuters.
  7. Guy Chazan (October 3, 2016), Germany’s deputy chancellor attacks Deutsche Bank chief Financial Times.
  8. Andrea Shalal (September 30, 2016), German minister heads to Iran, business ties still limited Reuters.
  9. Günther Bannas (May 30, 2011), CSU-Invasion im Kreml: Stoiber und Huber bei Putin empfangen Mittelbayerische Zeitung, July 5, 2007.
  10. Madeline Chambers (March 30, 2014), Debate on Russian energy imports strains German coalition Reuters.
  11. David Böcking (December 18, 2015), Streit um Sanktionen: Grüne boykottieren Energie-AG mit Russland Spiegel Online.
  12. Stephen Brown (February 27, 2015), Germany backs Greek extension but bailout fatigue grows Reuters.
  13. Diese Unionsabgeordneten stimmten für die Ehe für alle Die Welt, June 30, 2017.
  14. Stefan Wagstyl (June 27, 2017), Merkel publicly drops opposition to gay marriage Financial Times.
  15. Oder-Neisse-Grenze: Auch Ramsauer stimmte gegen Anerkennung. In: FR Online, 17 November 2009.
  16. ""Fass mich nicht an, du dreckiger Grieche": CSU-Mann Ramsauer soll Fotografen beleidigt haben". The Huffington Post (in German). 2 July 2016.
  17. "Ρατσιστική επίθεση Γερμανού πολιτικού μέσα στο Μαξίμου: "Μη με αγγίζεις βρομιάρη Έλληνα!"". (in Greek). 1 July 2016.
  18. "German ex Minister Ramsauer tells photographer: "Don't Touch me, Filthy Greek!"". 1 July 2016.
  19. "German Former Minister Yells Racist Attack at Greek Photoreporter". Greek Reporter. 1 July 2016.
  20. "Former German minister insults photographer during Athens visit". e-Kathimerini. 1 July 2016.
  21. "Eklat: Ramsauer nennt Fotografen "dreckigen Griechen"". Westdeutsche Zeitung (in German). 1 July 2016.
  22. "Besuch in Athen: Griechischer Fotograf beschuldigt Ramsauer des Rassismus". Der Spiegel (in German). 2 July 2016.
  23. "Eklat um rassistische Äußerungen Peter Ramsauers". Heise Medien (in German). 2 July 2016.
  24. "Opposition to Greek bailout growing in Merkel camp". 3 July 2016.
  25. "A German politician officially came out in favor of a Grexit". 3 July 2016.
  26. "German-Arab trade group under fire for boycott of Israel". The Jerusaleem Post. 4 July 2016.
  27. "New IOC head to resign from controversial Arab-German trade group". 4 July 2016.
  28. "Fraternity Brothers: Questionable Polish Borders". German Foreign Policy. 4 July 2016.
  29. "Deutsche Burschenschaft: Ramsauer-Burschenschaft verlässt Dachverband". Spiegel Online (in German). 4 July 2016.
  30. Board of Directors Aebi Schmidt Holding (ASH), Frauenfeld/Switzerland.
  31. Members of the Supervisory Board Münchener Hypothekenbank eG.
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