"According to Minister Habeck, 2023 will be the 'Year of Industry' - this slogan must be followed by a 'Yes' to industry. With a clear commitment to industrial SMEs, not just to large-scale industry," says Holger Ade, Head of Industrial and Energy Policy at the German Steel and Metal Processing Association (WSM).
To overcome the current crises, small and medium-sized enterprises, which are indispensable for Germany's industrial landscape, need the same political support as large corporations.
Keeping Medium-Sized Businesses in Mind
The WSM calls for a long-term strategic industrial policy in place of short-term communication. A lasting commitment to industry that also includes small and medium-sized enterprises would secure value-creation structures in Germany and Europe while strengthening companies' resilience. "We are currently experiencing how dangerous dependencies are. We can only free ourselves from this through functioning value chains. And it is precisely these chains that SMEs form," emphasizes Ade.
Focus on Large-Scale Businesses is Detrimental
Regarding tentative programs, e.g., the climate protection treaties, the association fears that policymakers are focusing too much on large-scale industry or individual raw material sectors. "This is too short-sighted," criticizes WSM CEO Christian Vietmeyer. "Without local structures, corporations also risk a threatening dependence on uncertain international suppliers."
To overcome current challenges, SMEs, which are highly relevant to the industry as a whole, need the same support as large corporations - be it achieving CO2 neutrality, transformation or the shortage of skilled workers. "A future-oriented long-term strategy keeps these industrial companies internationally competitive. And keeps them in Germany as a business location," Vietmeyer affirms. To achieve this, policymakers must cap costs with immediate effect, keep energy supplies affordable, and de-bureaucratize processes. Only long-term thinking can stop deindustrialization in the ‘Year of Industry’.