MIL OSI Translation. Region: Germany / Germany –
Source: Federal Ministry of Finance, Date 26.02.2020, Palmengarten Society House, Frankfurt M. [The spoken word applies!] Dear Mr. Bouffier, Dear Mr. Schmittmann, Dear Mr. Zielke; Ladies and Gentlemen, Thank you for the invitation to you today in this beautiful ballroom in the Palmengarten community center. It is also celebrating its 150th birthday today (built in 1870). The palm garden and the social house stand for an eventful history. After the establishment by a private initiative (AG, founded in 1868) the transition came into public hands (1931 to Frankfurt); From 2009 followed renovation and modernization (of the company house). Since then, tradition and modernity have come together in architecture. It is therefore very good to celebrate Commerzbank’s 150th birthday at this very location. Congratulations from me too. Since it was founded in Hamburg in 1870 as a Commerz- and Disconto-Bank, Commerzbank has undergone a remarkable development. Mr. Schmittmann has already presented the history of the bank very clearly – and has not left out its involvement in the criminal policy of the Nazi regime. I think it’s good and right that Commerzbank is tackling this part of its and our common German history in the very important study that is being presented today. Especially in these times when Germany is once again confronted with right-wing terror, we must not pretend that but have to stand against it together. We cannot watch the division of society. We have to say that the victims of Hanau, who were specifically selected on the basis of their origin, that we are with them and stand by their side. Today, Commerzbank plays a central role in financing SMEs and exports and thus in financing our SMEs. and export-based economy as a whole. This will be needed today and in the future, when the bank was founded in response to profound changes. Overseas trade was booming, Hamburg was also a center of international trade in goods back then. In addition, there had been industrialization, which was in its first high phase in Germany at the time. Railways, coal and steel and new sectors such as the chemical industry led to enormous economic transformation processes, promised profits and wanted to be financed. The founders behind the new financial institution wanted to shape the changes and take advantage of the opportunities. The fact that the company was founded in Hamburg also has something to do with it. For its 150th anniversary, special care was taken to ensure that the Federal Minister of Finance came from Hamburg, and the basic conditions of the new bank changed again in 1871 with the founding of the Reich and the German Customs Union. At that time, the focus was (already) on the dispute between those who wanted to become strong with tariffs and those who opted for free trade. Which was the Hamburg solution, which kept its way until 1871 through the establishment of the free port (as a customs abroad) until 2013. Today we are again facing far-reaching changes, for the economy and society as a whole. Something is going on in Germany, Europe and worldwide – and again we see how different the consequences of opening up or foreclosure are.Globalization and digitization have led to considerable gains in prosperity worldwide, especially here in Germany. Thanks to our competitive economy and not least the hidden champions in medium-sized companies and their financing partners. Few countries benefit from free and fair trade as much as we do (Bertelsmann “WTO at 25”, 11/2019: US $ 87 billion in prosperity, USD 86 billion in CHN, USD 66 billion in DE in 2016) and political weights are also shifting. We cannot let this go unnoticed. Economies, especially in Asia, but also in South America and – to a lesser extent – in Africa have become part of the global supply chains. Digitization has made new products, production methods and business models possible and questioned old ones. New technologies are putting old competitive positions in perspective, and the most noticeable consequence of these developments is the economic rise of Asia, and especially China. Historically speaking, it is correct to speak of a re-ascent and normalization. After all, China alone represented about a quarter to a third of the global economy until 200 years ago, before the “West” passed in the industrial revolution. The relative economic gain in importance of Asia and other regions goes – mathematically imperative – with a relative loss of meaning of the previously dominant ones Countries and regions. This is not too bad – our prosperity continues to increase, also as a result of more prosperity in and growing demand from other parts of the world, and yet, in view of these economic, technological and political shifts, the question arises: How can we ensure that we continue to have the resources in the future? and have opportunities to live according to our ideas? How can we confidently help shape developments in the world in the future? Some pretend that there is an easy answer. Which, as we have seen, was not seldom chosen in the past. To do this, they themselves question economic integration, free and fair trade and propagate a “My country first” policy. And they believe that the best way to protect their own economy and their citizens is through customs and concrete walls, protectionism and isolation. This is wrong and must never be our answer. With backward-looking politics, with a glorification of the past out of fear of the future and a stencil-like friend-foe thinking, one does not design progress, but step backwards. My answer is: We stand for multilateralism and international Collaboration. We will be heard if we are economically strong and if we show solidarity and stick together as a society. And for that we need a strong European Union, we can be confident. Confidence is not the mere hope that it will somehow work, that “technological progress” or “the market” will fix it for us. It won’t work by itself. We have to do something about it. Confidence means trusting that we can do it, even if it requires commitment. We have the technical skills, we have the engineers, the skilled workers who can design and implement new things. Our companies are leaders in patent applications (Annual Report European Patent Office 2018: only US companies more patent applications), the World Economic Forum has once again awarded us the title of the most innovative economy (Global Competitiveness Report 2019). We interlink industrial production with research and spend more than 3% of our GDP on research and development; To make this even more, we have now also provided tax subsidies for research and development, among other things, and we have the economic strength. A key to keeping it that way is investment – in the infrastructure, the promotion of new technologies, in education, training and further education, in a modern ecological industrial policy, in short: in the future of our country. The federal government’s investments are currently at a record level and will remain there for a long time over the financial planning period. We know that our way of producing, our mobility or our way of heating will change. Climate protection and the energy and mobility transition are not just that a duty. They offer the opportunity for our economy to develop solutions that are in demand worldwide. Because it is clear that the catching-up process of many economies and global growth in the future cannot be based on fossil energies in the way that we did in the 19th century – when Commerzbank was founded – and after that for far too long. It is also clear that the state is a driving force and shapes the framework. The state cannot do it alone. When it comes to research and development, investments in climate protection and new technologies, the commitment and risk tolerance of companies and the financial industry are crucial. We work together to make Frankfurt a center for sustainable finance; Commerzbank is also committed. It is right to take sustainability and thus the future prospects of an investment even better into account. And I would like investors in young companies – especially those working on new technologies – to take risks with equity capital more often than has been the case so far. Also in the second or third round if the company is to continue to grow. The advancing digitalization presents the banking sector with major challenges. But the new technological possibilities also offer great opportunities, which we see particularly in the rapidly growing FinTech market. With the FinTechRat at the Federal Ministry of Finance, we actively support this development. This also means that new ideas have room for testing. This is why real laboratories are an important topic for us, and we want to continue to advance them.However, the cornerstones of our social order should not be questioned by digitization. As much as programmable money is necessary for a digital economy, it is unacceptable for international internet giants to question our existing currency system. We will ensure that states continue to be responsible for currency and money in the future. Ladies and gentlemen, we need technological progress, investments and new ideas to shape the changes so that they turn out well. But successful modernization needs something else: openness to new developments. And that means that everyone has to have the perspective that things will turn out very well for him or her. In history, technological and economic advances have often failed not because of technical inability or lack of resources, but because of social resistance. Industrialization in the 18th and 19th centuries also initially caused tangible conflicts. This was not surprising, since the situation in life for many only improved after one or two generations; a phenomenon that the economic historian Robert Allen has described as an “angel’s break”. However, we cannot afford to split into modernization winners and losers. The modernization must be linked to a promise of solidarity. We need a society that sticks together and is fair. Otherwise we will create a gateway for populism and its simple sham solutions, which I mentioned earlier, so that everyone has a good perspective on the benefits of modernization so that everyone has a good perspective. And have the opportunity to adapt their skills to new requirements. This question will also arise in the banks. It is, of course, the responsibility of the companies themselves to give the right answers to the changes in the business environment and to lead their company into a successful future. We must ensure that things are done fairly , This also applies to taxes. The tax system must be fair. At the international level, we are working hard to ensure that large digital corporations in particular are taxed more fairly than is the case today. There is international cooperation on this and that will come. It cannot be that those who benefit most from modernization contribute the least to the common good, because everyone has to pay the taxes to which they are obliged. I would also like to say this very clearly: what happened in the financial area with the cum-ex-scams is not acceptable and something like that must not happen again. [Silence in the room] I hear great applause [audience laughs]. Ladies and Gentlemen, I have mentioned some of the challenges we face: geopolitical shifts, trade and trade conflicts, climate change and climate protection, digital revolution – in a world of almost 8, soon to be 9 or 10 billion inhabitants, no European country can meet these challenges shoulder alone. Let alone act on an equal footing with countries like the USA or China. The European Union with its 450 million inhabitants can do it. With a strong and united European Union, we can assert our interests and ensure that we can live according to our ideas. That is what French President Macron means when he speaks of European sovereignty. And he is right there: this European sovereignty includes, for example, a common trade policy; a common foreign and security policy; a European industrial policy and a leading position in new technologies. And a sovereign Europe, a Europe that determines its own destiny, also includes an efficient, integrated European financial market. We have made good progress on the way to a real European financial internal market. Important steps still have to be taken. Now that it is certain that London will leave the European regulatory and supervisory architecture after the end of the transition period, it is time to move even more decisively. Last year, together with my French and Dutch colleagues, I set up a high-level working group, the NextCMU High Level Group, to develop the European Capital Markets Union, which made important recommendations; The Council of Finance Ministers asked the Commission for further ambitious work in December, and in November I proposed a package to complete the banking union to overcome the negotiation standstill in this dossier. It includes further strengthening crisis management and supervision, more risk reduction and risk-appropriate rules for government bonds, as well as measures to avoid harmful arbitrage. And this package also includes a common European deposit reinsurance. With the completion of the banking union, we are creating a common market for banking services, strengthening our European financial institutions and generating welfare gains for the entire European Union. Everyone agrees on that. Now we have a new dynamic in the negotiations. We have to get here now. One should also speak about time windows: we have a new commission and a new European Parliament for 5 years. That means that we have to agree in 2 years in order to be able to pour our agreement into documents and regulations in the remaining 3 years. To do this, we must take action now. And that means the willingness to discuss and the ability to accept compross instead of talking. Ladies and Gentlemen, “Every change frightens the lucky one. If there is no hope of winning, there is a risk of loss”, Friedrich Schiller, who lives in Frankfurt as well as teaches us had a conflicting relationship with money (from: The bride of Messina or the hostile brothers, 1803). The current challenges and upcoming changes do not have to frighten us. We can design them. Thank you very much.
EDITOR’S NOTE: This article is a translation. Apologies should the grammar and/or sentence structure need be perfect.