Dhe former SPD leader Sigmar Gabriel has been paid as a consultant by meat producer Tönnies, according to a media report. The former Federal Minister of Economics had worked for the group from March 2020 until at least the end of May 2020, the ARD magazine “Panorama” reported on Thursday. Accordingly, Gabriel has apparently previously received a flat fee of 10,000 euros per month and an additional four-digit fee for each day of travel. According to “Panorama”, the activity should last two years.
When asked to “panorama”, Gabriel reported that his private sector activities were not subject to publication requirements. He always has to protect the interests of third parties when providing information to the media. Nevertheless, he confirmed that he had worked for Tönnies from March 1, 2020. He advised the company on impending export problems related to African swine fever.
Gabriel explained that he had now finished his job: “I had to quit this job on May 31, 2020 due to a difficult illness and a complicated operation that became necessary for me.” At the time, it was not clear to him whether and when he could resume his professional activities.
Tönnies is under massive pressure
Neither he nor his business partners see the previous advisory work for the Tönnies company as problematic, the former minister said. He answered the “Panorama” request “due to the special public interest in the present case”. After “panorama” research, company boss Clemens Tönnies personally looked after the Gabriel staff. As can be seen from the documents available to the magazine, the former minister should “make his extensive contacts available to the Tönnies Group and actively support projects”. It was particularly about the Chinese market.
Tönnies is under massive pressure after there was a massive corona outbreak at the meat group’s main location in Rheda-Wiedenbrück in North Rhine-Westphalia. The business was temporarily closed and another lockdown ordered for the Gütersloh and Warendorf districts.
At the beginning of 2015, Sigmar Gabriel – at that time still as Federal Minister of Economics – described the system of exploitation in the German meat industry as “shame for Germany”. After the criticism, the six major meat groups in Germany, under Gabriel’s leadership, committed to improve the working conditions of their employees in Germany. Gabriel has not been a member of the Bundestag since November 2019. He was Federal Minister for Economic Affairs and Energy from 2013 to 2017 and Federal Foreign Minister until March 2018.
The North Rhine-Westphalian Ministry of Health has extended the quarantine by two weeks for people who have worked at the Tönnies slaughterhouse in Rheda-Wiedenbrück or who live in one of the community accommodations. In the corresponding general decree, domestic quarantine is ordered until July 17. This does not apply to people who have already fallen ill and are considered to be cured. There had been a massive corona outbreak at the Tönnies plant in Gütersloh district.