German companies see an opportunity for modernization

Peter Adrian, President of the German Chamber of Commerce and Industry, speaks of a “constructive future spirit” in the contract. The energy industry sees a paradigm shift that could give momentum to the energy transition. All the companies surveyed by the Handelsblatt praise the fact that the new government is setting itself concrete and ambitious goals and wants to accelerate the authority and approval processes.

BASF boss Martin Brudermüller is impressed by the speed of the governing parties. “However, it is crucial that the governing parties maintain their speed and unity and implement the many necessary projects in such a way that the competitiveness of German industry is maintained and strengthened.”

“With the title of the coalition agreement ‘Dare to make more progress’, the future government is sending the right signal for the transformation to a sustainable economy,” says Bayer CEO Werner Baumann. Now it depends on the specific design.

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But not a few doubt that the hoped-for boost will also be achieved. Above all, many entrepreneurs do not see financing as secured. “The coalition agreement is a bet on the future and contains a number of bad checks to be debited from future generations,” says Nikolas Stihl, Chairman of the Advisory Board of the chainsaw manufacturer Stihl.

1. The entrepreneurs: “It depends on the Chancellor”

German entrepreneurs now see two players in particular as having a duty. “After 16 years of cemented reform backlog and a world in tough times of upheaval, the government in formation must by no means stay in the comfort zone from the outset,” demands Martin Herrenknecht, founder and head of the tunnel boring machine manufacturer Herrenknecht. “Now they have to deliver. The Greens in particular now have to show in the key departments whether they can meet the great responsibility on the international stage and in the areas of economy and climate in the country’s overall future interests. “

Nikolas Stihl, Chairman of the Advisory Board of Stihl Holding

“The FDP remains largely invisible.”

(Photo: press picture)

Reinhold von Eben-Worlée, head of the family business association, relies on the guideline competence of the chancellor, for whom the coalition agreement “offers a lot of freedom”. He sees positively that planning and approval acceleration is at the top of the coalition agreement. There are clear goals, but the way to get there is only outlined by way of example. “At the end of the day, it all comes down to the Chancellor.”

But not only on him. For Ulrich Dietz, founder and head of the supervisory board of the IT company GFT Technologies, the designated Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock is facing a difficult mission. “Sergei Lavrov is a shrewd Russian foreign policy maker and will make some ‘nice demands’ on Ukraine and Belarus,” he expects. “His cards are peppered with – bad – jacks, aces and tens, while the new foreign minister has to be content with lower points in the card game.”

Dietz praises the energy of the new government, but assumes that the reality of the facts will soon dominate the discussion. “A weakening economy in the coming year will give companies little strength to pay the higher minimum wage,” he warns.

Nikolas Stihl finds too few liberal elements in the contract. “The SPD and the Greens have prevailed, the FDP remains largely invisible,” he says. A constant pension level without raising the retirement age will, according to him, only work with more national debt. “Conclusion: The contract contains a lot of state belief and little trust in the market.”

Klaus Fischer, owner of the Fischer group, sees medium-sized companies and family businesses as only “subordinate” in the new coalition agreement. “They are the guarantors for stability and job security. Instead, Germany will become the environmental world champion, ”he says. “But that will only lead to success if the other nations, especially the USA and China, pull along too. I don’t see that yet. ”

2. The energy sector: “Momentum for the energy transition”

When it comes to climate and energy, the coalition agreement has it all: 80 instead of 60 percent renewable energies by 2030, 200 gigawatts of solar energy, 30 gigawatts for wind power, priority in the expansion of renewables, an early phase-out of coal, new gas-fired power plants and faster permits in all areas.

The economy is happy. The Federal Association for the New Energy Industry speaks of a “complete paradigm shift in energy policy”. The Essen-based energy company RWE describes the plans as “ambitious”. “The coalition agreement can give the energy transition a lot of momentum. Mainly because the ambitious goals are accompanied by specific measures, ”says RWE boss Markus Krebber.

Simone Peter, head of the Renewable Energy Association

“New start in energy policy.”

(Photo: Peter Frischmuth / argus)

In his view, an early phase-out of coal by 2030 is feasible, but only “if a massive and accelerated expansion of renewable energies, grids and storage is successful and a massive expansion of gas-fired power plants guarantees security of supply”.

The decisive advantage of natural gas over coal is that modern natural gas power plants can be converted to run on hydrogen. They offer the option of switching to these energy suppliers as soon as sufficient green hydrogen, i.e. hydrogen produced from wind or solar power, is available.

It is exactly the same on the plan of the new federal government. “The coalition agreement is ambitious – and that’s right, because our country is facing great challenges,” said Klaus-Dieter Maubach, head of the Düsseldorf energy supplier Uniper. In particular, he praises the planned jolt in the acceleration of planning processes, which are a “millstone around the neck of every major project”.

Simone Peter, President of the Federal Association for Renewable Energies, sees a “new start in energy policy”. The industry expects the stagnation to come to an end. “The fact that the coalition agreement was presented quickly after the federal election is a good sign and gives hope for stringent implementation in legislative initiatives,” said Marc Becker, head of the German turbine manufacturer Siemens Gamesa, the Handelsblatt.

For Siemens Energy boss Christian Bruch, the new government is addressing the right points: “The shortening of the approval processes, the ambitious expansion of renewable energies, the understanding that natural gas can help as a bridge, and the entry into the hydrogen economy.”

According to the plans of the new federal government, the price per tonne of CO2 should not drop below 60 euros and the EEG surcharge should be eliminated. Entrepreneur Felix Ahlers, head of frozen food manufacturer Frosta, sees this as setting the right course. “This makes energy from coal unattractive, and our own environmentally friendly initiatives such as our wind turbine in Bremerhaven pay off better.”

3. Start-ups: “That is impressive”

Representatives of the start-up scene fought during the coalition talks to have a strategy for young, innovative companies built into the plans. In the coalition agreement, start-ups are actually given special importance: “That is impressive,” says Christian Miele, head of the start-up association. “It’s great that the traffic light has put the topics of employee participation, start-up financing, easier public procurement and company start-ups on their agenda within 24 hours.”

Christian Miele, head of the Federal Association of German Startups

“That can be seen.”

(Photo: Dominik Butzmann for Handelsblatt, assembly)

In the coalition agreement, the future federal government is also responding to a call from more than 1200 entrepreneurs to create a new legal form for companies. The SPD, Greens and FDP now want to introduce this legal form for fiduciary property. This should enable companies to undertake to keep all profits in the company.

“We are pleased that the coalition agreement finds such clear words,” says multiple founder Armin Steueragel. “Startups want to be able to promise that they will solve problems and not maximize the owners’ assets.”

4. Chemicals and pharmaceuticals: “Good approaches, but not yet a booster”

Decisive years are dawning for the energy-intensive German chemical industry. It is one of the largest emitters of CO2 in Germany, but has set itself ambitious reduction goals. During the transformation, it depends on the fact that there will be green electricity in Germany in large quantities, with stable availability and at a low price.

“We don’t see a booster yet, but there are many good approaches to actively support the transformation of the industry,” says Wolfgang Große Entrup, General Manager of the VCI Chemicals Association. He positively highlights the abolition of the EEG surcharge from 2023 and the goal of halving the duration of planning and approval procedures – as well as the creation of a climate and transformation fund.

BASF CEO Martin Brudermüller

“Implement climate measures in a targeted, consistent and technology-open manner.”

(Photo: via REUTERS)

BASF boss Martin Brudermüller particularly welcomes the planned “Alliance for Transformation” as a forum for close exchange between politics and trade unions, associations and business. He sees in the coalition agreement “many suitable measures that can contribute to achieving the climate goals if they are implemented in a targeted, consistent and technology-neutral manner”.

In the coalition agreement, the government has also firmly anchored the promotion of the circular economy – i.e. the recycling of waste products. “We see this as an opportunity for a real partnership in order to support Covestro on its path to be completely circular”, says Markus Steilemann, CEO of the Leverkusen-based plastics manufacturer Covestro.

Pharmaceutical companies complain that the government is sticking to the price moratorium for drugs in the future, they see this as a hindrance to research and development. From the point of view of Bayer boss Werner Baumann, the coalition is sending a strong signal for the biorevolution and Germany as a location for biotechnology.

5. Innovation and the digital economy

For Baumann, the transformation of the German economy will only succeed with technological progress. He finds good approaches in the coalition agreement, for example for promoting innovation or digitization.

The information and telecommunications association Bitkom points out that the coalition agreement provides for the bundling of competencies and that digitization with the Federal Ministry of Transport and Digital will for the first time have a permanent place at the cabinet table: network expansion and digitization of administration and schools are priority projects.

SAP boss Christian Klein also calls for a European strategy. “We expect the new government to think beyond Germany. We have to promote cloud and edge computing in Europe and we need a secure exchange of data between market participants. “

More: What exactly the traffic light has agreed on – and how it will finance it

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