Bündnis90/Die Grünen as lobbyists of the German steel industry? - Stainless Espresso 
Bündnis90/Die Grünen as lobbyists of the German steel industry? – Stainless Espresso 

20 September 2023 – Are the German Bündnis90/Die Grünen lobbying the European and German steel industry? A look at the recent past and current election programmes quickly makes this clearer and declares CBAM, which is not supposed to be a market protection measure, to be an EU market protection measure. And the German and British Producer Price Indices for August have both exceeded expectations and are moving within an economically positive framework. 

Positive news from Germany as an industrial location 

While the German Producer Price Index (PPI) was still reported to be down in July 2023, it has now recovered significantly and rose to 0.3% in August, thus even exceeding expectations. The British PPI also rose to 0.4% in August.  

Bündnis90/Die Grünen as lobbyists of the German steel industry? 

Even though the current German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock, Bündnis90/Die Grünen, was not yet a minister in August 2020, she was already lobbying for European and especially German steel producers. 

Lobbying for German steel producers already since 2020?

In a talk show on Markus Lanz on the ZDF channel, the opinions of the well-known German economist and financial scientist Hans-Werner Sinn and the then federal leader of the Greens (note: shared the party chairmanship at the time with Robert Habeck, now Federal Minister for Economics and Climate Protection) clashed fiercely, particularly when it came to the necessary maintenance of the EU Safeguard measures and the promotion of green steel in Europe.

Baerbock very close to steel producers

At that time, Ms. Baerbock already showed forcefully that she had her ear very close to the steel lobby and apparently was also significantly influenced by them in her stance on market protection measures and CO2-neutral “green” steel production. Her party and fellow minister Robert Habeck had shown the influence of German steel lobbyists most recently with the release and support of billions of euros in subsidies for a thyssenkrupp direct reduction plant in Duisburg that will probably never produce green.

Ms. Baerbock said in the talk show:

“And honestly, with the steel CEOs I have spoken to, but they say we have to control that. They say we need clear steel quotas so that we can put an end to dumping in China, so that it doesn’t start the European market. They’re saying very clearly they need financial subsidies through the Green Deal so we can turn around our steel mills here in Germany.”

Source: Markus Lanz, ZDF, August 2020

What Ms. Baerbock forgets to mention is that European steel producers have not taken any action to reduce CO2 per tonne of crude steel since at least 2014.

The election manifesto of Bündnis 90/Die Grünen for the 2017 German federal elections also states:

“Germany’s emissions have been stagnating for more than seven years. We are miles away from the German climate target of reducing our CO2 emissions by 40 per cent by 2020 compared to 1990.” 

Source: Bundeswahlprogramm Bündnis90/Die Grünen 2017

Or on the production of green hydrogen in the 2021 election manifesto of Bündnis 90/Die Grünen:

“We will create the capacities for hydrogen production in Germany with market incentives and a comprehensive funding programme. Even if green hydrogen should be produced in our country as a priority, we will have to import hydrogen to meet demand.”

Source Bundeswahlprogramm Bündnis90/Die Grünen 2021

There is no longer any talk of priority hydrogen production in Germany. It is not even apparent that Germany will achieve the targeted 20% of green hydrogen in the natural gas grid by 2030. The expansion to date of well under 1% can thus be called almost homeopathic.  

On the other hand, in their current draft election manifesto (as of 14 September 2023) for the upcoming European elections, the Bündnis 90/Die Grünen once again position themselves on the side of the steel manufacturers’ lobby:

“The introduction of the border adjustment mechanism (CBAM) is an important step towards introducing fair CO2 pricing in world trade and supplementing and safeguarding the EU emissions trading system. This makes imports of certain products such as steel or cement from countries without emissions trading more expensive if they are produced in processes that are harmful to the climate. The CBAM thus also supports the modernisation of our industry, for example by protecting producers of green steel from non-European competition from fossil-derived steel and ensuring fair competition.”

Source: Bündnis 90/Die Grünen Draft European Election Programme 2024

CBAM lawsuits before the WTO pre-programmed

But it will please the countries soon to file a complaint against CBAM at the WTO that the Greens openly admit in their election manifesto that CBAM is precisely what we had long postulated: CBAM is nothing more than a market protection measure.

CBAM only a market protection measure

“…by, for example, protecting producers of green steel from non-European competition from fossil produced steel…”

The European Election Draft of Bündnis 90/Die Grünen goes on to say:

We have doubled the expansion targets for renewable energy. And fossil energy, steel or chemical products imported into Europe will soon have to pay a price at the border for their carbon footprint.

Source: Bündnis 90/Die Grünen Draft European Election Programme 2024

“Dear Ms. Baerbock, you can even increase your expansion targets tenfold, but if you don’t expand, then it is indeed a target, but just eyewash and a lie to the voter,” Thorsten Gerber, CEO of the Gerber Group, said today.

Thorsten Gerber continued: “It is regrettable that three years after this talk show on ZDF, Ms. Baerbock is still spreading the same and demonstrably false claims together with her party. It rather shows that the billion subsidies for the steel producers had already been a done deal at that time.”

China’s rise as a steel power thanks to German support

What remains at the end is an exciting remark by Mr. Lanz, who talks about dismantled us-American steel mills and steel mills sold to China and India, and the question to Ms. Baerbock how to react to this. The answer is quite funny and shows how little Ms. Baerbock really knows about the subject. “…forward-looking policy” is the answer of the then Federal Chairwoman. 

thyssenkrupp at the forefront

Yet it was precisely the German company, among others, which today is demanding “forward-looking” billions from the Federal Minister of Economics and the EU and must be protected by Safeguard measures, which had contributed significantly to China’s rise in steel production in 2001: thyssenkrupp and the sale, dismantling and reconstruction of the Dortmund Westfalenhütte to China. 

Ultimately, the hope remains that the two German federal ministers now in government will slowly realise that they cannot do their job and have been captured by the lobbies that blame their own voters and party for environmental sins and excessive CO2 emissions. But we will probably wait in vain for resignations.

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