Power goes out in the neighboring Berlin city of Oranienburg. What is the situation in the capital? Have you heard of IHK members having any problems?

Sebastian Stietzel: The supply situation in Berlin is currently stable. But that doesn't mean our businesses aren't worried. According to our energy transition barometer, one in five companies were more worried about possible power outages in 2023 than in the year of the attack on Ukraine. Overall, this is a development that we should all take very seriously. Finally, the Oranienburg example shows that power grids can reach capacity limits.

The federal government is committed to electricity as energy that can be generated in an ecological way and thus promotes an energy transition in the desired direction. Do you and your members share this evaluation?

Stietzel: Basically yes. We also want to achieve a climate neutral city before 2045, if possible. However, climate neutrality is not available by fiat or at the push of a button and it is certainly not free. For the transformation to be successful, we as an economy need a reliable political partner that sets realistic timetables, provides the resources for successful implementation and shows a willingness to work closely with the economy on climate protection.

The energy transition should be an engine of growth, because completely new technologies made in Germany should be developed. Do you see it that way or is the energy transition currently more of a brake on growth?

Stietzel: There has been disappointment in the last two or three years. In 2020 we surveyed our companies on this topic. At that time, almost half of the members mainly perceived the positive effects of the energy transition. The war against Ukraine and its consequences on energy costs, for example, have already curbed these expectations. Unfortunately, there are also obstacles of internal origin, such as excessive bureaucracy or lack of reliability in energy policy. Currently, only 17 percent of companies see more opportunities than risks in the energy transition. Politicians should also take this development seriously and act accordingly.

How is Berlin developing as an industrial and service center?

Stietzel: With the numerous retail businesses, tourism and catering companies and of course IT companies, the service sector remains the most important industry in Berlin. The Berlin industry has also developed fundamentally positively in recent years, with increasing export shares and increasing gross value added. However, we still see an industrial deficit in Berlin with very few industrial jobs, a consequence of decades of division. We have to take care of this and systematically strengthen the innovative strength of the place.

This is achieved if science and business work together much more closely and in a more targeted way, supported by policy. We, as IHK, have already signed several cooperation agreements with universities. The goal is to convert Berlin's excellent scientific potential into marketable products and, therefore, added value for the capital.

How attractive is Berlin's “bacon belt”? Do companies consciously move there because business taxes and connections are better?

Stietzel: Of course, business tax for companies is one of the central taxes on businesses and is therefore also an important location factor. However, tax alone is certainly not the only reason for deciding to settle or relocate. The key point – we know this from previous surveys – is the level of rent and the availability of space. Companies that want to grow need space. Nor should the administrative factor be underestimated, i.e. digital services, short distances and customer orientation, in addition, of course, to a reliable economic policy framework. So companies like to come and stay.

The article “Electric alarm in Oranienburg: companies in Berlin also fear shortages” is from Business Punk.

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