How the Greens want to polish their image in business

Berlin A group of medium-sized entrepreneurs wants to create a platform to expand the dialogue with the Greens and to make faster progress on the way to climate neutrality by 2045. The name of the already registered association: “The Economic Association of the Greens eV”. Thomas Fischer, head and founder of the management consultancy Allfoye in Düsseldorf, chairs the meeting. The start is planned for April.

The alliance is currently being organized. A list available to the Handelsblatt lists 30 supporters. In addition to Fischer, Tatiana Ohm, manager at the personnel service provider Randstad Sourceright, is involved. Also present are Wolfgang Bach, Managing Director of Ejot Holding GmbH & CO KG, a supplier of fasteners such as screws for plastics and metals, as well as Peter Heine, Managing Director of Marley Germany, a supplier of products for the DIY market.

So far, however, there are hardly any well-known names – and no large industrial company. One is still “under construction,” Fischer told the Handelsblatt. The entrepreneurs wanted to contribute to sharpening the economic policy profile of the Greens. To this end, the association wants to communicate the interests of business to the Greens and thus establish a dialogue. “We want a strong Germany that operates sustainably and is climate-neutral and successful. This is the only way we can remain competitive,” said Fischer.

Later, the whole range of the economy will be covered, from large steel manufacturers to start-ups. “In the medium-sized sector, 98 percent are companies that hardly anyone knows, but which also make up Germany as a business location,” said Fischer. “Not only the celebrities gather here, but also the large medium-sized companies.”

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In addition, discussions are being sought with Dax companies, he added. “They are also very interested.” Fischer explains that new members are joining almost every day. The economy is driving the issue of how to manage the path to climate neutrality in 2045. “Many notice that the Greens want to promote the issue of sustainability most seriously.”

Greens want to sharpen economic policy profile

The impetus for the trade association came from business, reports Fischer. The party and parliamentary group leadership should later find themselves in an advisory board, as well as the Green cabinet members and Federal Minister of Economics Robert Habeck.

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The Greens are not just courting industry and corporate bosses since their former chairman Habeck took over the Ministry of Economics.

(Photo: dpa)

The Greens have been trying for years to sharpen their economic policy profile. Chairwoman Ricarda Lang even sees the Greens on the way to becoming a “new economic party”, as she said in December. Economic debates are at the center of progressive debates – “while at CDU party conferences you are primarily concerned with gender”.

At the moment, the party seems to score particularly well with the younger generation of entrepreneurs. In a survey conducted every year by the Federal Association of German Start-ups and the consulting firm PwC, the Greens were by far the leading party of all parties.

>> Read here: Debate: Climate neutrality and economic growth – are both possible at the same time?

More than 50 percent of the entrepreneurs surveyed said in the summer of 2022 that they wanted to vote for the Greens. In addition to entrepreneurial success, it is important to many to develop a positive ecological effect, said Magdalena Oehl, Vice President of the Federal Association. “All of this seems to be the most covered in the eyes of the start-up ecosystem among the Greens.”

wire into the economy

However, the Greens have not yet penetrated the broader population. The Union is still far ahead when it comes to who is credited with having the highest level of economic competence. According to Statista, 23 percent of citizens see the Union ahead and nine percent the Greens. After all, the FDP, which is tailored to economic policy, leaves the Greens behind. In the survey, she only comes in at six percent.


The association aims to cover the entire spectrum of the economy, from large steel manufacturers to start-ups.

(Photo: dpa)

The Greens are not just courting industry and corporate bosses since their former chairman Habeck took over the Ministry of Economics. As early as the federal election campaign, people were looking to be close to sectors that would be particularly affected by supposedly green industrial policies – especially energy-intensive chemical and steel companies.

Chancellor candidate Annalena Baerbock even campaigned for an “industry pact”. And Habeck later continued the charm offensive in the ministerial office. However, even in an economy burdened by high energy prices, he made controversial decisions such as not allowing nuclear power plants to continue operating beyond the spring. The displeasure was expressed, for example, in loud protests from family businesses before the Green Party Congress in mid-October.

It is therefore not particularly surprising that the Greens are now also looking for a stronger connection to the economy with an association. The Greens chairman Omid Nouripour told the Handelsblatt that with the association “we are intensifying and institutionalizing the exchange between party and business on how we are leading Germany into a climate-neutral and competitive future”.

Other parties have long since made significant progress with business associations, some of which are prominent. For example, members of the board of directors of companies such as Mercedes-Benz, Fraport and Deutsche Bank sit on the executive committee of the Economic Council, which is close to the CDU. The association has a total of around 12,000 members, but has also benefited from its proximity to the CDU-led government in recent years. The MIT SME association, which belongs to the party, is also influential, and the parliamentary group is also seeking contact with business through the SME parliamentary group.

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It is similar in the SPD and the economic forum founded in 2015 by former Tui CEO Michael Frenzel. As early as 2018, the Greens group in the Bundestag founded the Economic Advisory Council to expand dialogue with business and to discuss climate-friendly conversion. The initiator was Kerstin Andreae, at that time spokeswoman for economic policy for the Greens in the Bundestag, and today the general manager of the Federal Association of Energy and Water Management BDEW.

attitude towards the Greens

At almost the same time, at the end of 2018, the former Greens member of the Bundestag, Thomas Gambke, launched the Business Dialogue – an independent association that is also intended to promote exchange between the Greens and business. At that time, the Greens were the smallest group in Parliament.

The Economic Advisory Board consisted of a fixed group of around 50 people, mainly managers and entrepreneurs, but also representatives of economic and industry associations. Non-public meetings were held two to three times a year. Among those present at the time were Martin Brudermüller, CEO of the chemical company BASF with its headquarters in Ludwigshafen am Rhein, and Hagen Pfundner, CEO of the Swiss pharmaceutical company Roche with three main locations and 16,000 employees in Germany alone. But while the Economic Advisory Council has been paralyzed since the Greens entered government and is due to be re-established this year, Gambke, Head of Economic Dialogue, is still active.

Whether Airbus, Bosch, Pfizer or Siemens: A total of 152 companies are sponsoring members of the association. Gambke​, who has a doctorate in physics, and a former industrial manager regularly meet with entrepreneurs who want to offer criticism, but also praise or suggestions.

“Attitudes towards the Greens have changed significantly,” says Gambke. “This is mainly due to the fact that leading Greens at all levels have for years shown their willingness to approach the economy and see it as part of the solution for a climate-neutral future.”

He experiences this in many conversations with government representatives and parliamentary group members in Berlin and in the federal states as well as the party. “Business, on the other hand, sees the Greens as having a high level of problem-solving skills, they are looking for and accepting offers of talks,” he says.

>> Read here: Commission chief von der Leyen announces green industrial plan

However, Gambke qualifies, “I still see skepticism towards the Greens in general”. There are still areas where there is mistrust of the Greens and where the Greens are still seen as less willing to compromise or fact-oriented.

More: Economic historian Adam Tooze – “Germany has an industrial fetish”

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