The first 100 days

BDA AGENDA 23/21 | Topic of the Week | 30 September 2021

After the Bundestag elections, we now have to get going. Germany is facing huge challenges. We don't have time to stand still. We need a policy that turns on the turbo.

Germany has voted and several governing coalitions are possible. For the first time in the history of the Federal Republic of Germany, the chancellor will be a party that could only muster 25 percent of the vote. The power arithmetic in the new coalition between "big" and "small" parties will be reset. Politically, therefore, things will change. The tasks, on the other hand, will remain largely the same.

Germany is facing a profound structural change in the economy, the world of work and society. Digitisation, decarbonisation and demographic change require decisive decisions. An important key to successful structural change is a strong economy.

To achieve this, we need a bold Agenda for the Future 2030. So what does the new Federal Government need to tackle in its first 100 days? First and foremost, companies are waiting for an unleashing programme with extensive debureaucratisation. Our country not only appears dysfunctional in parts, it is dysfunctional. The focus should therefore be on planning law that accelerates investments and does not prevent them, as well as faster digitization of the administration. In addition, in a second step we should succeed in getting out of crisis mode and into reform mode. In other words, no further burdens for the economy, and instead stabilisation of social security contributions at 40 percent. Also central: a reliable tax and fiscal policy, which includes the complete abolition of the solidarity tax as well as a clear rejection of tax increases. Otherwise, after Corona, the desired upswing will very quickly turn into a downturn.

A central point is also the flexibilisation of the labour market and working hours. No restrictions on temporary work and a changeover from daily to weekly maximum working hours along the lines of the EU Working Time Directive are the order of the day in order to give companies and employees a minimum of flexibility. Companies' personnel requirements can also change very quickly. In order to be able to react to this, temporary work is the most important flexibility instrument on the German labour market. Temporary work can be used to make the transition from unemployment to employment. This shows: Flexibility is the new security.

Schools have also had to be flexible in recent months. Many stopgap measures during the crisis would not have been necessary if our education system had been consistently digitised. We must now work on this at full speed.

A top issue from the point of view of business remains the increasing shortage of skilled workers. In order for Germany to remain competitive, the new federal government should simplify and accelerate the procedures for targeted and qualified skilled labour immigration. It is also clear that employers would like to see more respect for the functioning social partnership and autonomy in collective bargaining. Political influence on the level of the minimum wage is counterproductive in this respect. Instead, politicians should let the Minimum Wage Commission do its job.

Even if it is still unclear who will form the next federal government: Germany is facing profound changes - due to global trends, but also as a result of its own directional decisions in the past. How will the transformation succeed in the area of digitalization, in the world of work, in administration, in energy production? For all these questions, a clear, new responsibility must be installed - ideally with a coordinating Minister of State for Structural Change in the Federal Chancellery who keeps track and acts as a pacesetter.

There is a lot to do in the first 100 days.