Industry heads tell Merkel to keep economic gears turning | Business| Economy and finance news from a German perspective | DW | 16.03.2012
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Industry heads tell Merkel to keep economic gears turning

German Chancellor Angela Merkel and the heads of the country's leading business associations have held talks about potentially risky developments that may hamper the German economy in the future.

German business associations on Friday handed over a catalog of demands to Chancellor Angela Merkel, outlining their views on what policymakers needed to tackle to secure the country's future economic competitiveness and Germany's continued growth.

At a meeting on the fringes of a German trade show in Munich, the heads of the country's leading industry organizations expressed their concerns over the state's ability to efficiently implement austerity measures, which they see as necessary to curb the ongoing debt crisis.

Merkel and German industry leaders

Merkel met with the business community leaders in Munich

Delivering a broadside against what he felt had been the federal and regional governments' lack of spending discipline so far, President of the Federation of German Industry Hans-Peter Keitel said more restraint was needed to bring down public debt.

"Budgetary decisions are no picnic, but a constitutional task," Keitel argued.

In a joint statement, Germany's business associations urged Merkel's coalition government to do more to prevent a credit crunch for private entrepreneurs. The real economy needed reliable and acceptable financing conditions, the statement said.

Eurozone troubles

Industry leaders also voiced concern over the ongoing debt crisis in the eurozone. While welcoming the permanent rescue fund now in place, they warned against topping up the bailout account as that might decrease member countries' motivation to implement structural reforms and enhance their competitiveness.

Merkel told journalists in Munich on Friday that the ceiling of 500 billion euros ($653 billion) for the European Stability Mechanism (ESM) would not be exceeded, but added that the strength of safety instruments might be increased by combining ESM payouts with resources still available under a temporary fund, the European Financial Stability Facility (EFSF).

The industrial leaders' joint statement bears out German companies' resolve to make the best possible use of domestic skilled labor and also highlights to the need to improve conditions for foreign workers as demographic developments thin the workforce. German business leaders demanded an easy exchange of staff in multinational companies without any red tape involved.

In its statement, the German business community also called on the government to redouble its efforts to ensure energy security in the future. The business associations said they were willing to support the current large-scale shift to cleaner energy.

However, they urged Berlin to move ahead with the required national energy grid expansion and in particular the linking up of offshore facilities to the grid.

hg/sms (dpa, dapd, AFP)