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Topic - Alliance for the "Future of Industry"

Joining forces to strengthen German industry


We need to work together to reshape our industrial policy so that our industry will remain the strong core of the German economy in future. This is what the Alliance for the “Future of Industry” is about. It brings together trade unions, industrial and employers’ associations, and the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy.

The partners in the Alliance want to make Germany a sustainable and modern industrial centre and to boost its industrial competitiveness.

Focusing on the importance of industry

Our industry is an essential guarantee for growth, prosperity and jobs. 8 million people work in some 100,000 industrial enterprises in Germany. And there are also a large number of industrial service providers. Overall, roughly 15 million jobs depend directly or indirectly on industry. The people working in the goods-producing sector generate one-quarter of total value added and three-quarters of exports. And industry pays the lion’s share of the money spent on research and development. Germany’s innovative industrial enterprises are leaders on resource efficiency and thus make an important contribution towards protecting the environment and combating climate change.

Tackling new challenges

However, the tough international competition, demographic change and disruptive technologies like digitisation are confronting industry with great challenges. The Alliance for the "Future of Industry" has a clear goal: to strengthen industrial output in Germany and by utilising the opportunities offered by the changing situation to benefit Europe.

In the context of this joint effort, specific agreements are to be made and priority measures developed in order to strengthen industrial competitiveness.

The Alliance is not intended to replace existing forums, platforms and dialogues between the social partners, business and government. Rather, the existing results and demands from sector-specific dialogues are to be pooled, weighted, communicated and translated into binding strategies for action. The Alliance for Industry brings together central industrial policy expertise at national level, ensures a better coordination of industrial policy interests, and pools responsibilities. In this way, we will achieve better coordination of key areas of research and funding policy and of industrial and competition policy in Germany and Europe.

Four figures which illustrate the importance of industry

Symbolicon für Menschen

employees subject to compulsory insurance, for a functioning welfare system

Symbolicon für Geld

billion in turnover
for secure wages and salaries

Symbolicon für Mikroskop

billion euros
spending on research and development

Symbolicon für Urkunde

patent applications
for innovations which improve our lives

The Partners

A strong alliance for German industry

Sigmar Gabriel, the Federal Minister for Economic Affairs and Energy, Detlef Wetzel, then Chairman of the German Metalworkers' Union (IG Metall), and Ulrich Grillo, President of the Federation of German Industries (BDI), initiated the founding of the Alliance for the "Future of Industry" in November 2014. The Alliance was officially inaugurated on 3 March 2015.

Alongside the three initiators (Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy, the German Metalworkers’ Union (IG Metall), and the Federation of German Industries (BDI)), the following 14 partners are active in the Alliance: the German Chemical Industry Association (VCI), the German Association of the Automotive Industry (VDA), the German Engineering Federation (VDMA), the German Electrical and Electronic Manufacturers’ Association (ZVEI), the Federation of the German Construction Industry (HDB), the Confederation of German Employers’ Associations (BDA), the Federation of German Employers' Associations in the Metal and Electrical Engineering Industries (Gesamtmetall), the German Chemical Industry Employers' Association (BAVC), the Association of Steel Producers (WV Stahl), the Association of German Chambers of Industry and Commerce (DIHK), and on the trade union side the German Trade Union Federation (DGB), the Mining, Chemical and Energy Industrial Union (IG BCE), the Trade Union for Construction, Agriculture, and the Environment (IG BAU), and the Food, Beverages and Catering Union (NGG).

Woman; Source: mauritius images/Cultura

© mauritius images/Cultura

Method of work

How does the Alliance work?

The Alliance does its work in five working groups. These draft recommendations for action on the key issues, from public acceptance of industry through to competitiveness.

Each working group has two chairs, one from the employers’/industry side, and one from the trade union side. The recommendations by the working groups are presented to a steering body, called the “Sherpa Round”. The sherpas are leaders nominated by the partners in the Alliance. This group is chaired by State Secretary Matthias Machnig.

The Sherpa Round prepares the meetings of the High-Level Group (HLG), which take place roughly every six months. The HLG includes the Federal Minister for Economic Affairs and Energy, Sigmar Gabriel, the presidents of the business associations, and the chairs of the trade unions and of the Trade Union Federation. The HLG adopts specific measures and demands. The topics of the working groups:

WG 1: Public acceptance - attractive industry

WG 2: An industry that invests

WG 3: Future of work in industry and industrial services

WG 4: Value creation structures of the future

WG 5: International competitiveness of German industry

Future of Industry Network

In order to implement the Alliance’s measures, the Future of Industry Network was set up in June 2015. The Economic Affairs Ministry welcomes this and intends to support the Network’s activities.

Further information on the Future of Industry network can be found at (in German).

Woman in front of a monitor; Quelle: Getty Images/Bloomberg

© Getty Images/Bloomberg

Industrie 4.0

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Shaping the Future of Industry

Looking to the future: How will we manufacture and work in 2030? How can we cope with the challenges resulting from the digitisation of the global economy and recent political developments? The Alliance discusses recommendations for European policy at its conferences.

Digitisation is leading to the fourth industrial revolution, and is changing the structure of our society. Also, the political events of the last few months are creating a need to discuss new common rules for fair and free trade.

International industrial conference: promoting fair trade in a globalised world

The partners of the Alliance “Future of Industry” and the Economic Affairs Ministry held the "International Industry Conference" on 7 February 2017, at which the Alliance presented an interim review not only of its work, but also of the views of German industry on the new challenges on the world markets.

The conference and its international guests focused particularly on the three most important regional markets for German industry: the United States, China and Europe. In a joint declaration, the Alliance advocated strong and close economic cooperation within the EU and called for open markets and a value-based and equitable global trading system at international level.

Guidelines and recommendations for action in the field of industrial policy

During the 2016 Industry Week, the Alliance also presented specific recommendations for better infrastructure, viable emissions trading, tax breaks, and skills development.

Further information

  • 01/12/2016 - Press release - International Cooperation

    Press release: Germany assumes 2017 G20 Presidency - with a first meeting of G20 Digital Ministers

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  • 18/02/2016 - Press release - Alliance for the "Future of Industry"

    Press release: Minister Gabriel: "Europe needs more industry again" - Alliance for the "Future of Industry" presents recommendations for European industrial policy

    Open detail view
  • In focus - Sectors of industry

    Economic Affairs Ministry organises sectoral dialogues

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Turbine; Source: Getty Images/Jonathan Knowles