Finance Minister Olaf Scholz visits the VDMA

Uwe Nölke | VDMA

Important visit to the VDMA: Federal Minister of Finance Olaf Scholz discusses the major issues of global politics as well as the details of corporate taxation with the VDMA Executive Board. MEP Daniel Caspary calls on entrepreneurs to raise their voice for Europe.

The world is changing, and politics and industry alike are facing major challenges. For Vice Chancellor and Finance Minister Olaf Scholz (SPD), this is about nothing less than a global realignment of the political and economic power structure. He made this clear at the main board meeting of the machine and plant manufacturers.

He was very much in favour of the question of what role Europe should play in the future: A leading role, clearly committed to a multilateral form of cooperation. Then a united Europe could also play an important role against the background of the rise of the Asian economies, the Minister said.

In addition, the two big buzzwords are digitisation and climate protection, which must be turned into a success story. Olaf Scholz justified the repeatedly propagated pioneering role in the fight against climate change with a statement that was as brief as it was correct: "because we can".

"because we can"

A claim to solution competence that remains unchallenged in mechanical engineering. The objections of this predominantly medium-sized industry were also directed more towards the political concepts in the subsequent discussion. Too little market economy, too much political intervention, was how VDMA President Carl Martin Welcker summed up the views of the good 100 entrepreneurs in the hall.

In addition to the big questions of world politics, the tax policy was then discussed in detail. The contributions of the participants showed the need for action to improve the competitive situation, but also to reduce the bureaucratic hassle of everyday life. The willingness to consider a special digital depreciation campaign was received positively. However, there were few promises on the subject of relief and simplification. Resubmission would be the word here at the Ministry. Welcker announced that he would give this portfolio a voice.

Caspary: "Commission and Parliament are committed to free trade
Strengthening Europe's sovereignty, developing a tougher stance on China, mastering the brexite and - last but not least - implementing the Green Deal recently proposed by the new EU Commission - the EU has great tasks ahead of it, as EU MEP Daniel Caspary made clear to all participants during his appearance at the VDMA main board.

"We live in a world where global power blocs are moving apart. In this world, it is of great importance that the EU becomes capable of geopolitical action. This is why the willingness in society, business and politics to cooperate more and more intensively at European level is much greater today than it was a few years ago. This is an opportunity, but also requires an immense effort and support from the business community", said the CDU politician.

The good news for the mechanical engineering industry, which is heavily dependent on exports, is that the new EU Commission and also the European Parliament will be backing free trade. "The free trade agreement with Vietnam will soon be passed in parliament. Further trade agreements, for example with Australia and New Zealand, will follow", explained Caspary. In contrast, the chairman of the CDU/CSU group in the European Parliament was sceptical as to whether it would be possible to negotiate a trade agreement with the British by the end of 2020. "An unregulated relationship with the UK from 2021 is a realistic scenario and companies should prepare for it" said Caspary. Under no circumstances should it be expected that there will be a further extension of the transitional period.

"An unregulated relationship with Britain from 2021 is a realistic scenario and companies should prepare for it."

In conclusion, the CDU politician also commented on the EU Commission's major lighthouse project: the European Green Deal. The Commission is certainly endeavouring to shape the change towards climate neutrality with market-based instruments, as the VDMA is also demanding. However, Caspary fears greater resistance in the European Parliament. There, a strong group does not believe in market forces and rather relies on detailed regulation. It was therefore also a task of the entrepreneurs to do some persuasive work here and to talk to the members of parliament from their constituencies. "The opinion of the mechanical engineering industry is important, but it must be articulated loud and clear by entrepreneurs in direct talks with politicians," he called on the VDMA members.