Federal Minister for Economic Affairs, Peter Altmaier (centre), President of the Federation of German Industries, Prof. Dieter Kempf (front, 2nd r.), Jörg Hofmann, First Chairman of the German Metalworkers' Union

Federal Minister for Economic Affairs, Peter Altmaier (centre), President of the Federation of German Industries, Prof. Dieter Kempf (front, 2nd r.), Jörg Hofmann, First Chairman of the German Metalworkers' Union, and other attendees of the Industrial Conference

© BMWi/BILDKRAFTWERK

On 24 September, the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy hosted its third Industrial Conference in Berlin. The main issue on the agenda is how to build on Germany’s competitiveness in the industrial sector. The conference also rounded off Germany’s Industrial Week.

Said Economic Affairs Minister Altmaier: “Germany is one of the world’s most competitive industrial nations – and we want this to continue. In order to achieve this we need to improve the overall environment for industry. We must also develop new technologies and bring them to market. Finally, we must ensure that we maintain our technical autonomy – particularly in the age of digitisation. Both industry and the state have a shared responsibility for meeting these objectives. This makes this Industrial Conference the perfect place to discuss the Industrial Strategy for 2030 and how we want to safeguard and strengthen growth, prosperity and jobs.”

Much of Germany’s economic success in international competition is due to the strength of the country’s industrial sector. Manufacturing accounts for almost 23% of Germany’s gross value creation – one of the highest shares in both Europe and the world as a whole. In February this year, Minister Altmaier published his proposal for a National Industrial Strategy for 2030, launching an intensive dialogue designed to equip the industrial sector for the future. Since then, the strategy has been discussed with all the relevant stakeholders, who have presented their proposals and ideas for action.

Said Prof. Dieter Kempf, President of the Federation of German Industries (BDI): “We need a rigorous industrial policy at German and European level so as to strengthen innovation within our industries. We should not copy the misguided renationalisation policies of other countries, as this would only speed up the global trend towards protectionism and isolationism. Germany must think and act in terms of a European economic policy. The high level of interconnectedness, the progress on digitisation, and ever faster innovation processes within the industrial sector call for more systemic approaches than we have needed at any other time, for instance in the context of financing for large technology and infrastructure projects. The Federal Government could create a new technology fund which would be primarily financed by the private sector and use this as a way to strengthen the creative potential of our companies.”

Said Jörg Hofmann, First Chairman of the German Metalworkers’ Union (IG Metall): “The decisions taken by the climate cabinet have made it clear to everyone: the tasks of transforming the industrial sector, safeguarding industrial networks and securing hundreds of thousands of jobs are on the agenda NOW. The necessary degree of ecological and social restructuring is so large that ‘the market’ cannot achieve this alone. This is why our expectation is to have not only ambitious decisions on climate action, but also determined, proactive and harmonised infrastructure, investment and industrial policies developed by both the Federal Government and the incoming European Commission. But we also need to invest in jobs and employees’ skills. What is needed are labour market and education policies that support the social partners in their efforts to give employees security at this time of change.”

The Industrial Conference is organised in cooperation with the ‘Future of Industry’ alliance, which was founded in 2015. The alliance brings together 17 partners representing unions, industrial and employers’ organisations, the German Chambers of Industry and Commerce, and the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy.

In the run-up to the conference, a nationwide Week of Industry was held in Germany (9-24 September). Numerous events all using #Industrieverbindet highlighted the innovative strength of the industrial sector and its importance for our country. There were also opportunities to engage in the discussions on the Industrial Strategy for 2030.