Arguments and Positions
Industry is the basis for the economic strength of Germany and Europe. With its products and innovations, the chemical-pharmaceutical industry contributes decisively to solving societal and climate policy problems.
Companies are operating in a rapidly changing environment. International competitive pressure is increasing, and the industrial and trade policies of China and the USA are transforming the international economic order as a whole.
A radical change is taking place generally: New processes alter the economy. The areas affected by such dynamics range from biotechnology and digitalisation to new drive technologies and the development of chemical processes for greenhouse gas-neutral production and a circular lifestyle. With this, the industry responds already now to the growing challenges in climate and environmental protection.
Altmaier*s Industry Strategy 2030
The Industry Strategy of the German federal economics minister Peter Altmaier comprises measures for better framework conditions and correctly identifies many topics to make Germany fit for the future: internationally competitive taxation and energy prices, innovations, investments in transport and digital infrastructures, bureaucracy reduction, the digitalisation of industry, and maintaining the rules-based trade system. Greatly important topics to the chemical industry – such as biotechnology, circular economy and carbon leakage protection (measures to prevent shifts of emissions to other countries) – are included too. Furthermore, the strategy takes into account the European dimension.
Altmaier has presented his strategy as a proposal by his ministry. It would be important for these proposals to lead, after all, to a cross-departmental overall strategy of the federal govern¬ment and to concrete political steps.
EU Industrial Strategy
The EU Commission presented its industrial strategy on 10 March 2020. From the chemical industry’s viewpoint, it is a central success factor for the “Green Deal”. The strategy wants to make European industry greener, more digital and more sovereign. Probably, it will focus on horizontal framework conditions and support for strategic value chains.
- Continue the Industry Strategy process in Germany – develop concrete measures
The course in the industrial policy needs to be reset urgently. The whole federal government should give its backing to Altmaier’s Industry Strategy and jointly develop suitable framework conditions to support the transformation of industry. It is not sufficient to hold one industrial policy conference after another. Concrete measures are called for.
- Powerful EU Industrial Strategy is needed
The EU needs a powerful industrial strategy, so that the European “Green Deal” becomes a strategy of growth. This strategy should support the transformation of industry, facilitate its digitalisation and make industry fit for global competition. The EU Commission’s industrial policy should rely on competition instead of planned economy, on the single market, openness to technologies and innovation. Here, the global integration of the European Union has to be given sufficient consideration.
- Drive forward the transformation of energy and raw material supplies
The chemical industry needs for its transformation large volumes of renewable electricity at competitive prices. For this, the infrastructure must be created and the legal framework in Germany and Europe must be adapted accordingly. Furthermore, the hydrogen economy should be expanded rapidly and research into chemical recycling should be intensified.
- Provide scope and resources for innovations
For more innovations for sustainable products and processes, there should be research promotion with an open mind to a wide range of technologies in Germany and in Europe. Well-funded project support and easier access to venture capital are needed too. Also required is a science-based societal dialogue on the potentials and risks of new technologies.