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.
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 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 is married and has four daughters. His wife Susanne is a cousin of American actress Sandra Bullock. Ramsauer is also a competent pianist.
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. 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.
Since the 2013 elections, Ramsauer has been serving as chairman of the Committee on Economic Affairs and Energy.
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.
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.
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.
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 in favor of considering importing shale gas from the United States, or alternative embracing "domestic resources". 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.
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.
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.
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. In an interview for television channel ZDF in 2015, Ramsauer compared Greek leaders to "dancing bears around a circus ring". Ramsauer has been the most prominent politician in Germany to come out in favour of Greece leaving the euro zone.
Alegations of Antisemitism
Since June 2014, Ramsauer is 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 and has been accused of antisemitism 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.
Member of the far-right fraternity Deutsche Burschenschaft
Peter Ramsauer is 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.
- Arab-German Chamber of Commerce and Industry (Ghorfa), President (since 2014)
- Aebi Schmidt Holding (ASH), Member of the Board of Directors
- Münchener Hypothekenbank, Member of the Supervisory Board
- Gothaer Versicherungsbank, Member of the Advisory Board
- CNC Communications & Network Consulting, Member of the Board of Experts
- 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)
- Hanns Seidel Foundation, Member
- Ifo Institute for Economic Research, Member of the Board of Trustees (2002-2010)
- German Council on Foreign Relations (DGAP), Member of the Presidium (2005-2009)
- Quadriga, Member of the Board of Trustees
- German-Korean Society, Vice President (1998-2002)