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Tanja Goenner – the first woman to head the Federation of German Industries

The future Chief Executive of the BDI: Tanja Goenner

Tanja Goenner will be the first woman to head the Federation of German Industries. The CDU politician and former State Minister for Baden-Wuerttemberg is to take over the vacant position at Germany’s most influential industry association starting this summer. Her predecessor Joachim Lang left the post on May 31.

Goenner plans to put greater emphasis on sustainability for the association. “The transformation to carbon neutrality, the challenges in the international context and acceptance in society” are what the 52-year-old sees as the main tasks in her new role. In her current job as spokeswoman for the board of the German Corporation for International Cooperation GmbH (GIZ), Goenner has already advocated for a green reconstruction of the global economy after the Covid pandemic. She frequently stresses that economic policy must always be climate policy as well.

Gönner has headed the GIZ since 2012. In a press release, she stated that she had found her time at GIZ very enriching, but that she now wanted to pursue new career paths after ten years. GIZ was also her first major experience with China: GIZ operates a large office in Beijing and is active throughout the country.

Her new job will see her dealing with China more than ever before. The BDI is an important pacesetter in Germany’s China policy. This is demonstrated by association decisions in 2019 that still have an impact today. At that time, the BDI published demands on China that struck a critical tone toward Beijing for the first time. Since then, the country has also been regarded as a “systemic competitor,” no longer just a partner. This change of course has ushered in a shift in German policy: Since “even the BDI,” as it is now often put, complains about its members’ dependence on a single market, even the traditionally pro-business German government could distance itself more.

Born in 1969 in Sigmaringen, Tanja Goenner began her career after school with an apprenticeship as a legal officer. She then studied law at the Eberhard Karls University in Tuebingen and, after passing her state exam and completing her legal clerkship, worked for a law firm.

Alongside her legal career, she early on also pursued a political one. In 1986, she joined the Junge Union (Young Union of Germany), and has been a member of the CDU since 1987, including serving on the national board from 2000 to 2012. Between 2002 and 2004, she was a member of the German Bundestag.

In 2004, she was appointed Minister of Social Affairs in Baden-Wuerttemberg. From February 2010 to May 2011, Tanja Goenner served as Minister for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Transport in the state of Baden-Wurttemberg. The appointment of Goenner to the BDI leadership is expected to take place at the meeting of the Presidium and Executive Board of the BDI on June 20.


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