Federal Minister of Economics Peter Altmaier exchanged views with the representatives of the business associations via video conference.

Federal Minister of Economics Peter Altmaier exchanged views with the representatives of the business associations via video conference.

© BMWi/Susanne Eriksson

Economic Affairs Minister Peter Altmaier discussed the current economic situation of companies with representatives from 35 business associations in video conferences today. In addition to the presidents of the umbrella associations, attendees of the video conferences also included the presidents of the associations representing SMEs, family-run businesses, the professions and the self-employed. Further to this, the conference was joined by representatives of the sectors which are particularly badly hit by the coronavirus crisis (in German), such as the hotel, restaurant and catering industry, tourism and the events industry. Minister Altmaier had already held discussions with the sectors in similar forums on 17 April and 12 June.

The main focus of the talks was on the current developments in the COVID-19 pandemic and the state’s measures to support the economy. The business associations made it clear that, in view of the rising numbers of infections, further support will be required. The press conference following the video conference included contributions from Gudio Zöllick, President of the German Hotel and Restaurant Association, Andreas Lutz, CEO of the Association of Founders and Entrepreneurs Germany (VGSD) and Jörn Huber of the #AlarmstufeRot campaign and CEO of FAMAB Communications Association.

Minister Altmaier: “The dialogue with the business associations confirms my view that we will continue to need to support our economy after 31 December. We will make some changes to the existing bridging assistance (in German) so that in particular we can help those sectors whose business has virtually ground to a halt since the outbreak of the pandemic. We are already working on this within the Federal Government. It remains the case that we will not abandon companies which have found themselves in a difficult situation due to the pandemic through no fault of their own.”

Guido Zöllick, President of the German Association of Hotels and Restaurants: “The situation in the sector is becoming increasingly desperate. We therefore welcome the extension of and improvements to the bridging assistance scheme. It would be equally important to extend the rules on carrying back losses for taxation. A clarification of leasehold law by the legislature is long overdue: it should be made clear that the COVID-19 pandemic represents a frustration of the contractual basis and justifies an entitlement to amend the rental contract in order to arrive at a fair sharing of the risk between the contracting parties. Otherwise, insolvencies and vacant properties in the town and city centres are inevitable.”

Andreas Lutz, CEO of the Association of Founders and Entrepreneurs Germany: “Many own account workers work from home or at their client’s premises. If bans on events stop them from earning money, they are worried less about how to keep up the rental payments for their office space, and more about how to cover the cost of living, health insurance and rental costs for themselves and their families. We are glad to hear that Minister Altmaier will now be reviewing the provision of assistance towards these costs. It is right that this is to be regulated at federal level, as is also the case with the short-time work allowance, which is now funded from taxation. It is important to roll out rapid and non-bureaucratic assistance before the end of this year.”

Jörn Huber of the #AlarmstufeRot campaign and CEO of FAMAB Communications Association: “For nearly eight months, not only has the entire events industry been in an enduring lockdown, but the companies and self-employed persons have no prospects of any return to normality. Roughly a million employees, as well as several thousand own account workers and small businesses, have been practically unemployed since March. Numerous other sectors whose livelihoods depend on a functioning events industry, and not least our country’s performing artists, have also lost their source of income. We need rapid help for the events industry. Otherwise, the sector is facing total economic collapse.”