Jens Spahn (born 16 May 1980, in Ahaus, North Rhine-Westphalia) is a German politician. He is a Member of the Bundestag (German: Mitglied des Deutschen Bundestages or MdB) for Steinfurt I – Borken I. He is a member of the ruling Christian Democratic Union of Germany (CDU).
Spahn was the youngest Member of the German parliament, having been elected at age 22 in 2002. He has since then served in the 15th, 16th and 17th Bundestag, and is one of the main sponsors of pension reform in Germany, being a member of the Committee of Health of the 17th Bundestag and Chairman of the Working group on health and health policy as well as the spokesman of the CDU/CSU health parliamentary group.
Life and career
Spahn graduated in 1999 from the Episcopal Canisius school in Ahaus, North Rhine-Westphalia. In 2001, he completed an apprenticeship as a banker at the Westdeutsche Landesbank, and worked until 2002 as a bank clerk. Since 2003, Spahn also studied Political Science and Law at the University of Hagen. In 2008, he eventually got a Bachelor’s degree, and is now carrying on to get a Master’s degree in the same field.
Spahn is a Roman Catholic and lives with his partner Daniel Funke, a German journalist, in Berlin-Schöneberg. In an article of Süddeutsche Zeitung in July 2012, his homosexuality was mentioned for the first time.
Spahn became a member of the Junge Union Deutschland (JU) in 1995, aged 15. He went on to join the CDU in 1997. He was the chairman of the Borken district JU from 1999 to 2006. From 2005, he was also the chairman of the Borken district CDU, which counts 6,500 members.
In December 2014, Spahn surprisingly stood for a place on the CDU’s ruling council against health minister Hermann Gröhe, in a contest that was widely seen as crystallizing the generational tensions within the party. His election bid was backed by the then 72-year-old finance minister, Wolfgang Schäuble. Shortly before the vote at the annual CDU party conference, Gröhe withdrew his candidacy and Spahn was elected.
Member of Parliament, 1999-present
Spahn has been a member of the Ahaus City Council since 1999.
Spahn became a Member of Parliament in the 2002 elections. He has since won three consecutive elections in 2002, 2005 and 2009 in the constituency of Steinfurt I – Borken I. In 2005, he obtained 51.2% of first preference votes. In the 27 September 2009 election, Spahn won again with 44.5% of the primary vote, earning a direct mandate.
From November 2005, Spahn served as the vice-chairman of the CDU/CSU working group on health policy, while at the same time chairman of the CDU/CSU parliamentary group in the Committee of Health. He was also a member of the CDU/CSU-SPD coalition working group, which brought about the 2007 health reform. Since 2009, he has been Chairman of the Working group on health and health policy as well as the spokesman of the CDU/CSU parliamentary group on health policy.
Spahn was a substitute member of the Budget Committee. He is also part of the “Young Group” of the CDU/CSU parliamentary group. Spahn co-founded a cross-party group of young MPs pushing for the integration of intergeneration equity as a national objective into the Basic Law.
Between 2005 and 2013, Spahn served as Deputy Chairman of the German-Dutch Parliamentary Friendship Group. Since 2014, he has been Chairman of the group.
In the negotiations to form a government following the 2013 federal elections, Spahn led the CDU/CSU delegation in the health working group; his co-chair from the SPD was Karl Lauterbach.
Parliamentary State Secretary in the Federal Ministry of Finance, 2015-present
In 2015, Spahn became Parliamentary State Secretary in the Federal Ministry of Finance under minister Wolfgang Schäuble in the third cabinet of Chancellor Angela Merkel. At the ministry, he oversees the German government’s annual budget. He is also in charge of representing Germany in the negotiations on the annual budget of the European Union.
An economic liberal and openly gay Roman Catholic, Spahn has combined a platform of lower taxes and less red tape with support for same-sex marriage. In 2012, he and twelve other CDU/CSU MPs united in their call for defending tax law equality for couples registered in a civil union. In a public vote in June 2012, he pushed for such legislation as well as to open marriage to same-sex partners, but the bill was denied by his own party and eventually defeated. By 2013, Spahn and others mulled signing on to a "group petition," in which they would publicly side with the opposition on expanding the rights of registered same-sex partnerships to include all the tax benefits given to married heterosexual couples.
During the European migrant crisis, Spahn emerged as a vocal critic of Chancellor Angela Merkel's refugee policy, arguing that their party had "perhaps put too much emphasis on the humanitarian approach".
In April 2008, Spahn voiced his opposition to Grand Coalition plans to increase pensions because such a “gift” to the “medium and long term retirees” would cost a “lot of money”. He particularly criticized the arbitrary intervention of Federal Labour Minister Olaf Scholz in the form of a surprise announcement on pensions formula.
This statement brought him strong criticism especially from the Senior Citizens Union (Senioren-Union). Spahn faced many insults and received threats, in the form of anonymous letters among others. He complained about this in the media. The Senior Citizens Union announced that it would do everything to prevent his re-election. However, Spahn received the support of former President of Germany Roman Herzog.
After the 2013 federal elections, Spahn criticized the coalition pact between Christian Democrats and Social Democrats for making too many concessions to the SPD on lowering the retirement age to 63 from 67 for some workers.
As part of coalition negotiations, Jens Spahn and others succeeded in bringing “core demands for a black and yellow health policy” against the opinion of some like Rolf Koschorrek, in the form of a rearrangement of the Institute for Quality and Efficiency in Health Care (IQWiG). In order to do so, they asked for a “realignment at the top of the house staff”. This is because the coalition agreement says that “the work of the IGWiG is checked” and “its decisions are respected”. This came at a time when Peter Sawicki, the institute’s director, had repeatedly voiced his opposition to the introduction of new medicine. Journalist Markus Grill wrote about “Operation Hippocrates”, an alleged plot to replace Sawicki with a more pharmaceutical industry-friendly candidate.
- Sparkasse Westmünsterland, Member of the Supervisory Board (2009-2015)
- mosaiques diagnostics und therapeutics AG, Member of the Supervisory Board (2010-2012)
- Signal Iduna Pensionskasse AG, Member of the Supervisory Board (2005-2010)
- Barmenia Insurances, Member of the Advisory Board (2005-2008)
- Deutsche AIDS-Stiftung, Member of the Board of Trustees
- Jugend gegen AIDS, Member of the Advisory Board
- FernUniversität Hagen, Member of the Parliamentary Advisory Board
- German Federal Environmental Foundation (DBU), Member of the Board of Trustees
- Humanitarian Aid Foundation for Persons infected with HIV through Blood Products (HIV Foundation), Chairman of the Board
- Magnus Hirschfeld Foundation, Member of the Board of Trustees
- Federal Cultural Foundation, Member of the Board of Trustees
- Atlantik-Brücke, Member
- Catholic Workers Movement (KAB), Member
- "Suche nach Sparkasse Westmünsterland: Jahresabschluss zum Geschäftsjahr vom 01.01.2009 bis zum 31.12.2009". Elektronischer Bundesanzeiger. Retrieved 2012-01-12.
- Advisory Board Jugend gegen AIDS.