Merz was a parliamentarian for the Christian Democratic Union for twenty years. He became a member of the European Parliament in 1989 before switching to the German federal parliament in 1994. He remained a member of the Bundestag until 2009, always winning his constituency, the Hochsauerland, directly. When he stood for re-election for the last time in 2005, he received 57.7 percent of the vote which confirmed his huge popularity.
In his political work, Merz specialized on public finances, security and family policy, becoming deputy group leader for the conservative bloc in 1998. When the then group chairman Wolfgang Schäuble stepped down in 2000, Merz became his successor. He was opposition leader for two years before Angela Merkel took over this position in 2002.
Merz remained deputy group leader for two more years. In 2004 he resigned because of differences over economic policy within the party leadership. In the summer of 2009, Merz announced that he would take time out from politics and would not stand for re-election to the Bundestag.
Merz was born on November 11, 1955, in Brilon in the western German state of Saarland. He studied law in Bonn and Marburg before becoming a judge at the local court in Saarbrücken. Subsequently, he was a partner with two national law firms in Cologne (1989–2004) and worked for the German Association of Chemical Industry in Frankfurt/Bonn (1986–1989).
Today, Friedrich Merz is a senior counsel in the Düsseldorf office of Mayer Brown. He focuses on corporate matters, including mergers and acquisitions, banking and finance and compliance. He represents a large number of corporations as well as family-owned businesses.
Merz is chairman of the advisory board and a member of the supervisory board of HSBC Trinkaus & Burkhardt AG in Düsseldorf and chairman of the supervisory board of the WEPA Industrieholding in Arnsberg.
In 2008, Friedrich Merz published his book „Dare more capitalism,” in which he warned against the danger of excessive state regulation. Since July 2009, he has served as chairman of the board of directors of the Atlantik-Brücke in Berlin.