CDU General Secretary Carsten Linnemann has called for a comprehensive program to make Germany and its ailing economy internationally competitive again. "It's no use improving depreciation rules here and there. Our country now needs an overall concept, an Agenda 2030," Linnemann told the German Press Agency in Berlin. It is about making performance worthwhile again, about promoting and demanding things happening again, about the state, especially the economic framework, functioning.
"We are not only the sick man of Europe, but according to the International Monetary Fund the sick man of the world," said Linnemann. The IMF had forecast that the Federal Republic would be the only country among the major industrialized countries whose economy would shrink this year. "All other countries are growing." The Union has already presented an emergency program in the form of a five-point plan. "But that's not enough. It needs an overall concept and we will present that in the next few weeks."
Measures to strengthen the business location
"First of all, we need liquidity. The growth opportunities law that the finance minister wants to introduce is largely correct," said Linnemann. Energy prices must also be reduced as quickly as possible. In order to tackle the problem of skilled workers, hundreds of thousands of people who are about to retire should then be able to earn additional income tax-free - for example 2000 euros a month. Linnemann also suggested experimenting and allowing counties in Germany to cut red tape and over-regulation for two years.
"We urgently need a change in mentality here in Germany," explained Linnemann. "Unfortunately, today we are in the same situation as in the late 1990s, when Roman Herzog then gave the 'Ruck Speech' here not far from the Adenauer House. This Ruck, this Ruck 2.0, Germany needs it now."
Remembering the crisis at the end of the 1990s
The CDU politician thus continued the Agenda 2010 announced in March 2003 by then Chancellor Gerhard Schröder (SPD), with which the red-green federal government then reformed the labor market and the social system in Germany. As early as April 1997, then-Federal President Roman Herzog lamented the loss of economic momentum, the paralysis of society and an "incredible mental depression" in Germany in a speech, and demanded: "Germany must be jolted."
Linnemann accused the federal government and Chancellor Olaf Scholz (SPD) of not having a plan to deal with the current problems. "I no longer expect a great vision from him, but at least an idea of how Germany can be better positioned in the next three to five years."
Warning against the quiet death of the middle class
Linnemann pointed out that German direct investments abroad amounted to around 135 billion euros last year - but foreign investments in Germany were only around 10 billion euros. "It's a mismatch that's dramatic." German companies invest abroad to save costs and not primarily to conquer markets. "That means these companies will be gone at some point."
There is a danger that small and medium-sized businesses, the backbone of the economy and the guarantor of prosperity in Germany, will "quietly go to pieces," Linnemann warned. "We can't allow that. That's why we now need framework conditions that give medium-sized companies planning security so that the companies can get some air to breathe."
Raising the domestic potential for the labor market
This federal government underestimates the domestic potential for the labor market and the issue of immigration, said Linnemann. "We have to promote and demand much more domestic potential. It has to worry us that 600,000 people between the ages of 18 and 24 have neither vocational training nor work."
In the case of citizen income, too, those people who - for whatever reason - could no longer work should be given more support. "But if you receive social benefits and can work, you should also have to work." This was what the people who financed the welfare state with their work and their taxes expected.
"Jerky Speech" by Federal President Herzog in 1997