Germany: We need more courage and speed

A post by:     Michael Kundel
Last updated: 2023-09-14

Germany is under economic pressure. Global crises, climate change, rising inflation rates and interest rate increases are putting the substance of our prosperity to the test. As CEO of a large medium-sized company in the plastics industry, I view this development with great concern.

Our economic location is under threat

Germany as a economic location is acutely threatened - not only by global crises, rising energy costs or high interest rates. Rather, it is an unhealthy mixture of structural problems such as excessive regulation, bureaucracy, a lack of incentives for innovation and encrusted structures. The consequences: Business start-ups have been declining for years, and investments are increasingly being made abroad. In this critical phase, temporary economic stimuli are not enough. A paradigm shift is needed. Chancellor Scholz recently called for a cross-party Germany Pact. The initiative is right, the only question is how consistently and sustainably it will be implemented.

Bureaucracy paralyses progress

Lengthy approval procedures, a lack of digitalisation in the administration and too much bureaucracy massively slow down companies and start-ups. A strong company like RENOLIT can cope with this for some time, but many smaller companies or even start-ups cannot. But we ourselves also have to deal with rampant regulation and incalculable framework conditions over and over again. This paralyses economic development and endangers small and medium-sized businesses as guarantors of prosperity throughout Germany.

Fear & Scepticism of Innovations

For decades, "Made in Germany" not only represented quality, but also the latest technical accomplishments. Today, new ideas and innovative approaches are too often met with scepticism and mistrust. Fear of failure and little willingness to take responsibility dominate decisions. Meanwhile, countries like the USA and China seem to be leaving us further and further behind technologically.

Why I am speaking out, as a CEO

As CEO of RENOLIT, I am not a politician. But I do carry a great responsibility for our employees, their families and the entire company. Economic and social developments also have significant long-term consequences for us. What we need now are two major trend reversals in Germany:

1. less bureaucracy and overregulation as well as faster approval procedures.

2. more attractive framework conditions and more courage for innovations, forward-looking technologies and new paths.

I would like to use my voice as CEO of RENOLIT to advocate for this.

1. We need to speed up!

The biggest problem in my opinion is the sometimes unbearably slow procedures in Germany. If the approval process for a hall extension takes longer here than the construction of a complete new factory in other countries, something is seriously going wrong. Months and sometimes even years of delays cause enormous costs, with the result that many companies are now questioning important investments. I am sure that public procedures can be optimised without giving up valuable standards. Furthermore, what is needed is reliable regulation, not a further tightening of the already highest global standards in European chemicals and environmental law.

2. More courage and innovative spirit

We need to break down our increasingly encrusted structures and embrace innovative ideas and approaches that deserve more appreciation and support. And we are challenged to become more courageous, to try out new ways - even at the risk of some failing. Therefore, we urgently need a culture of courage and joy in innovation in all areas, which must be accompanied by attractive and predictable framework conditions. Especially in the current phase of the green transformation, we need competitive transitional solutions until sufficient renewable energies are fully available.

It is about our future

We need a new spirit of optimism in Germany. This requires a solidarity between business, politics and society - for more courage, more innovation and more speed. Only if we are all prepared to leap over barriers and dare to try something new can we secure our future and maintain prosperity and jobs in Germany.