BERLIN Oct 15 German opposition parties on
Tuesday accused Angela Merkel of pandering to the car lobby,
after her conservatives received major donations from the family
that controls BMW, just as Berlin was lobbying against
tougher EU caps on carbon emissions.
Merkel's Christian Democrats (CDU) said the three donations
made on Oct. 9 and totalling 690,000 euros "have no connection
to any political decisions".
The funds came days before European Union environment
ministers backed German demands to scrap a deal to cap EU car
emissions that Berlin had argued would cost jobs and damage its
premium auto makers.
The donations came from Johanna Quandt, the widow of
industrialist Herbert Quandt who is credited with transforming
BMW, and her children Stefan Quandt and Susanne Klatten. The
family owns almost 47 percent of BMW.
Juergen Trittin, former co-leader of the Greens, wrote on
Twitter that the family had "bought Merkel's climate policy on
Oct. 9 for 690,000 euros".
Social Democrat Joachim Poss wrote that the short period
between the donation and Merkel's backing for the car industry
were "grist to the mill for all those critical of party
A spokesman for the Quandts said they had decided in January
to donate to the CDU but waited until October to transfer the
money because they did not want to get involved in campaigning
for Germany's Sept. 22 election.
The payments were registered with parliament, as required
for all personal donations to parties of more than 50,000 euros.
Carmakers Daimler and BMW produce heavier and
relatively less fuel-efficient vehicles, meaning they would find
it challenging to meet the proposed cap on carbon emissions of
95 grams per kilometre for all new cars from 2020, analysts say.
The CDU said the Quandt family had supported it with
donations for years, regardless of whether they were in
government. The three family members had also each given the
party 150,000 euros after the 2009 election, which saw Merkel
enter a coalition with the centre-left Social Democrats (SPD).
Merkel's conservatives emerged as the dominant force in last
month's election but need a partner. They are talking to both
the SPD and the Greens, with the former seen as the most likely
partner. The Greens are strongly in favour of limiting CO2
emissions to 95 grams per kilometre.
(Writing by Alexandra Hudson in Berlin; editing by Andrew