Dr. Daniela De Ridder, whose last visit to the Emsland Group was in 2017, stopped by for a visit this September. There were quite a few new topics that were discussed this year with the Management Team, Gerrit-Jan Wesselink, Christian Kemper and Stefan Hannemann, the Chairman of the Works Council, Alfred Weiden, and the Chairman of the local SPD Association in Emlichheim, Johannes Spykman.
Of course, the Coronavirus crisis was discussed, whereby Mr. Hannemann emphasized that there are applications where the products of the Emsland Group are difficult to replace, but there are also areas where there is a high interchangeability. Overall, the Emsland Group was able to partially cushion the economic impact of various interdependencies – increase in consumption of snack products vs. slump in the French fries industry. The decline in demand during the lockdown, e.g. in the catering industry or in the textile industry, had a noticeably negative influence on the price development on the market. Management has also cited the increased pressure imposed on the industry by environmental regulations, rising energy prices and the additional costs imposed by CO2 prices.
However, the still unequal base conditions in international competition, especially within the European internal market, are critical. A point that was already on the agenda in 2017. “I am explicitly committed to Germany as an industrial location. Without the productivity of our companies, Germany's prosperity is not only at risk, but also an especially large proportion of jobs. This needs to be maintained and expanded,” said De Ridder, who expressly emphasized this during the intensive discussions. As Deputy Chair of the Committee on Foreign Affairs, she is currently the Rapporteur for foreign trade policy and international treaties, including both the Free Trade Agreement between the European Union and the Mercosur countries. The balance between the principles of freedom of trade and the protection of the domestic economy and standards has therefore always been a core concern of her foreign policy work.
From De Ridder's point of view, another innovative instrument for strengthening German and European companies is the promotion of research and development of new technologies. The Law on Tax Subsidies for Research and Development (Forschungszulagengesetz – FzulG) is intended to promote all taxable companies in the areas of basic research, industrial development and experimental development. The research allowance is to amount to 25 percent of the company's eligible expenses, i.e. a maximum of 25 percent of 2 million euros. “The aim of the law is to increase private investment in the innovation and competitiveness of the German economy,” explained De Ridder. She wants to encourage the Emlichheim-based company and its works council to continue to focus on global expansion and innovative technologies. The FzulG is already used in individual research projects.
Overall, there was a very constructive round of talks.
The Emsland Group thanked the guests for their visit!