23 Jun 2021, 13:25
Edgar Meza

Merkel calls for high-tech investments as industry demands clarity on climate goals

Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, Deutsche Welle, Zeit Online, Handelsblatt

Chancellor Angela Merkel has said both the private sector and the state have a duty to invest immense amounts of money in Germany and the EU in order to retain a competitive edge in high-tech industry, Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung reports. "We will have to spend gigantic sums in the next few years," Merkel said at the annual Day of German Industry in Berlin on 22 June. “There are many areas in which we can no longer get a good starting position without state money," she added, pointing to microchip and battery cell production, quantum technology, artificial intelligence and cloud computing. Conservative chancellor candidate Armin Laschet, who has good chances of succeeding Merkel following the September elections according to current polls, warned against hampering a potential economic upswing in Germany with tax increases and increased regulations, and instead called for a reduction in government regulations. The important goal continues to be achieving climate neutrality while remaining an industrial country, he added.

Green Party chancellor candidate Annalena Baerbock echoed the sentiment as she sought to reassure industry leaders that her party would not overburden companies, Deutsche Welle reported. She said she wanted to work with companies to create new markets and develop and deploy new technologies. "It's not about the Greens. It's about Germany's future viability as an industrial nation and the future viability of Europe's common market," she said. As quoted in Zeit Online, Baerbock added: “The markets of the future will be climate neutral."

Industry representatives called for more clarity about the government’s climate protection plans, and demanded that framework conditions for more climate protection in companies be significantly improved. Siegfried Russwurm, president of the Federation of German Industries (BDI), said the government has yet to make urgently necessary directional decisions. "It is not enough to stipulate climate neutrality by law," he argued. The amended Climate Action Law could see parliamentary approval on Thursday, tightening climate targets and presenting major challenges for some sectors. “We are now once again experiencing a target increase that is associated with considerable costs for our industry,” Franziska Erdle, head of the German Metal Trade Association (WSM), told Handelsblatt. “Instead of target debates, we demand clear statements on how these goals can be achieved.” The VIK association of energy intensive businesses is likewise calling for "more clarity about the path of industrial transformation".

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