Germany's carmakers will need state aid to overcome greatest disruption yet – opinion
The possible end of combustion engines in the not-so-distant future spells great challenges for Germany's car industry, which is accustomed to success but now could struggle to master the coming disruption without help from the state, Max Hägler writes in an opinion piece for the Süddeutsche Zeitung. "The state has to be a wingman," Hägler says, adding that even with state aid "there won't be a solution for everything." Carmakers and suppliers have begun to make big layoffs in 2019 and the fact that this happened without major protests shows that both the companies and the labour union cannot really see what to do against it. "This shows how dangerous the situation is," Hägler writes. He says Germany's car industry is in a good position to employ the state for help "because there's a lot of know-how and a great readiness to cooperate," and ideas like short-time work or training programmes co-financed with taxpayer money already proved helpful in the 2008 economic crisis. These measures could cost Germany up 20 billion euros. "But it would be well spent," Hägler says.
Following the decision to support mining regions financially during the country's coal exit, industry representatives and employees have already called for public funds to ease the shift in the car industry as well. Given the sector's huge importance for the economy as a whole, supporting the car industry's transition to sustainable mobility has become a top priority for German government.