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26 January 2018

The Fi­nance Min­istry at the Ger­man Em­bassy in Paris

World Map with Highlight on Paris
Source:  iStock/Fotolia

In spring 2017, the German Finance Ministry created a new position for a head of the financial division at the German Embassy in Paris, reflecting the continued importance of the Franco-German friendship. Christian Dahlhaus holds this important post on behalf of the German Finance Ministry. The financial division, which has a total of four staff, is also responsible for the areas of taxation and customs.

The German Embassy in Paris is a key bilateral mission in Europe. It is headed by Ambassador Nikolaus Meyer-Landrut and has 160 staff. It comprises sections for political affairs, economic affairs, culture, media relations, public relations, and legal and consular affairs. It also has a defence section headed by a military attaché. The financial division forms part of the economic affairs section, which currently has a total of 12 officials from four German ministries.

The financial division’s tasks include analysing the French government’s financial, budgetary and tax policies and evaluating economic trends in France. The German government is especially interested in the initiatives launched by the new French government. To this end, the financial division cultivates close bilateral ties with the relevant French ministries and agencies. It is also in close contact with the financial sector, the Banque de France, the French national institute of statistics, independent research institutes and think tanks. The division also tracks economic trends at the EU and eurozone level.

Another core task is to provide specialist and logistical support for visits from members of the German parliament and high-ranking government representatives.

The division organises seminars and discussions aimed at fostering Franco-German cooperation on specific issues, cultivating the exchange of ideas and supporting ongoing projects. In 2017, events were held on the significance of the European single market and on the future of the Economic and Monetary Union, among other topics.

The German Embassy’s financial division also serves as a reliable point of contact for the French authorities, providing them with support on all issues relating to bilateral cooperation in the areas of fiscal policy, taxation and customs.

Interview with Christian Dahlhaus

I started to take an interest in international economic relations early on, when I was studying economics in England, Ireland and the U.S. I subsequently spent three years at the European Commission in Brussels, which is one reason why European integration is especially close to my heart. My international experience came in useful when I took up a post at the German Ministry for Economic Affairs in 1998, within the Directorate-General for General Economic Policy. After parts of that Directorate were incorporated into the German Finance Ministry a year later, I worked mostly in the Directorate-General for European Policy.

Early on in my career I took part in an exchange with the French Treasury, which reports to the Ministry for the Economy and Finance in Paris. Later, I also worked in Washington, D.C.-District of Columbia, where I held the post of Senior Adviser to the German Executive Director at the International Monetary Fund. In light of that experience, the obvious next step was to apply for the post of Head of Division which had just been created at the German Embassy in Paris.
I always truly enjoyed working in an international or European environment. When I was notified in February 2017 that my application had been successful, I couldn’t wait to start work in Paris: The upcoming presidential election in France was sure to bring a number of changes, especially for Franco-German relations.

I wanted to be in France, to watch history in the making so to speak, so I took up work there early, in April 2017. The first few months were very exciting and interesting. Now that my family, who came in the summer, has joined me, I get to enjoy not only my work, but more of Paris and the many things on offer here, too. Our children have joined local football and table tennis clubs and we feel very settled in France now.
We live in a lovely suburb of Paris, on a slope, which gives us a view of the Eiffel Tower. I was very lucky in that I was able to move into the flat of another Embassy colleague who was moving out.

Our new home in the suburbs is a great place for families but it also allows us to experience all that Paris has to offer. The Eiffel Tower, the Louvre, the Tuileries Garden, Notre Dame, Sacré-Coeur, and Haussmann’s unique cityscape make Paris one of the most beautiful cities in the world to visit.

Paris boasts many excellent museums, but it also allows you to experience the famous French savoir vivre on a daily basis.
The first thing I do after getting up is to read the main French daily newspapers, have breakfast, and cycle in to work.

Paris winters are relatively mild, but it does rain a lot, so I sometimes also take the metro to work. Public transport in and around Paris provides good service in the suburbs.

At the Embassy, we are of course currently focusing on the new government’s policy agenda. We want to describe the emerging policies as accurately as possible for the government back in Berlin, which is why we maintain a broad range of contacts in the main French government bodies, ministries and research institutes.
The financial division here also organises events on questions of fiscal and European policy. For example, I organised an event on the future of the Economic and Monetary Union.

We were hoping around 15 people would attend, so we invited 27 distinguished guests including professors, senior officials from the ministries and heads of research institutions. Everyone actually came, which was a pleasant surprise, and we all enjoyed what was a lively, constructive event. Instances like this just go to show how important Franco-German relations are.

And it’s always a great pleasure and honour to accompany Ambassador Nikolaus Meyer-Landrut to finance-related meetings. Mr Meyer-Landrut is a representative of Germany who is held in very high regard in France and is familiar with finance-related topics. And you really get the sense that he sincerely believes in the importance of Franco-German relations.
My posting in Paris is scheduled to end after three years. I will be very happy to return to Berlin and take on new responsibilities as a head of division in the German Finance Ministry. I am confident that the expertise I’ve gained and the contacts I’ve made in Paris will benefit my work for the Finance Ministry, wherever my career may take me in the future, be that in Berlin or maybe even on another posting abroad.
As much as I love Paris as a city that’s both vibrant and steeped in history, I have to say I prefer Berlin on the whole. I’ve yet to experience another city with such a capacity for daily re-invention or such diversity, where you can truly have it all – the city life and nature, plus a stunning range of outstanding cultural events.

I’m especially looking forward to re-joining my orchestra and to being back with my dear friends.

Mr Dahlhaus, thank you for those fascinating insights into your life in Paris. Au revoir .