North Rhine-Westphalia's Prime Minister Armin Laschet is the new chairman of the CDU.
The 59-year-old, who has ruled the most populous federal state since 2017, is expected to lead the party into the post-Merkel era.
At his side is Federal Health Minister Jens Spahn, with whom Laschet competed as a team against competitors Friedrich Merz and Norbert Röttgen.
One wants to preserve “Merkel's legacy”, but become more modern, is the motto with which Laschet convinced the CDU delegates.
What his choice means for the German economy, which has been shaken by the crisis, can not only be read in his ten-point paper recently presented together with Spahn with the title "Impulse 2021".
The decisions that Laschet and his black-yellow coalition are responsible for in North Rhine-Westphalia are even more revealing.
They show that Aachen's economic prosperity and social balance always go hand in hand - and with this course it is more reminiscent of Helmut Kohl's chancellorship than Angela Merkel's.
In fact, Laschet has a good reputation in NRW's economy, which is also strongly characterized by medium-sized companies.
This applies in the Ruhrpott, which is plagued by structural change, as well as in the prosperous regions in the Münsterland or East Westphalia.
The fact that his black-yellow coalition, which only governs with a majority of one vote, works noiselessly, is not least due to the fact that the CDU man grants the FDP presentable successes in economic matters.
With the “Ministry for Economy, Innovation, Digitization and Energy” the Liberals are responsible for a super department that has set accents in the important future areas of climate policy and digitization, which Laschet is now highlighting as groundbreaking for all of Germany.
Laschet: balance instead of climate policy revolution
With him, there will also be a digitization ministry at federal level in the future.
Because without a “digital awakening”, Germany is in danger of being left behind, the Prime Minister warned in his application speech at the party congress: “So that we can continue to live in Germany as before, we have to change.”
But Laschet always emphasizes that structural change in the direction of digitization and climate neutrality depends on moderation.
After all, the Rhinelander, who comes from a family of miners, also stands for the preservation of traditional industry.
Only with technological progress will it be possible to achieve the climate targets and at the same time secure economic prosperity.
The hydrogen strategy promoted by its black and yellow state government is intended to ensure that even energy-intensive industries such as raw materials or steel production become greener.
Because maintaining the entire value chain is an important economic policy goal for Laschet.
The lawyer is therefore not available for a climate policy revolution as demanded by other parties.
Rather, he wants to shape changes in such a way that they modernize the industrial location, but not damage it.
NRW state politics as a model for the federal government
Laschet made it clear that he sees his state politics as a blueprint for government action for all of Germany.
And his ten-point plan underlines this once again.
He is striving for a "burden moratorium for the economy".
The duo Laschet / Spahn is reacting to the concerns of companies that have been complaining for years about the steady expansion of the welfare state, increasing regulations on the labor market, excessive bureaucracy and ever new energy policy requirements and which are now often fighting for survival in the corona crisis .
Laschet, as party leader, will have to make clear in the upcoming election campaign how credible the promise of a “burden moratorium” is.
In any case, his team-mate Spahn, as Federal Minister of Health for long-term care insurance, has already made an expensive promise to expand the service.
For example, the home residents' contribution is to be frozen in the future.
This would ultimately be the entry into fully comprehensive insurance and would drive up the already dynamically increasing expenses of the long-term care insurance in the long term.
The new party leadership also has to show its colors when it comes to pensions, especially since the Union, together with the SPD, has been burdening old-age security with more and more new expenses such as maternal pensions, 63 or the basic pension.
The employers now expect the Union to guarantee that social security contributions will not exceed the 40 percent mark in the long term.
In view of the empty social coffers and the challenge of demographic change, a reform agenda would be necessary, which one would more likely expect from a Friedrich Merz than from an Armin Laschet.
And Jens Spahn, who used to warn again and again not to disregard the interests of the younger generation in social policy, prefers to act generously in the office of health minister, like his predecessor Hermann Gröhe (CDU) - and by no means only since then Pandemic outbreak.
Laschet rejects tax increases
Laschet shows a clear edge when it comes to debt.
From 2024 the federal and state governments should reach the black zero again, which is ambitious in view of the soaring new debt in the Corona crisis.
Tax increases - in particular the reintroduction of a wealth tax called for by the Federal Minister of Finance and SPD Chancellor candidate Olaf Scholz - is rejected by the new CDU boss.
Instead, he promises business tax incentives for venture capital.
The belly of small and medium-sized businesses is also to be flattened in the tax rate.
This is not the big corporate tax cut that the Federation of German Industries (BDI) has just recently requested again in view of the lower rates in almost all industrialized countries.
In return, Laschet is holding out the prospect of higher investments in the expansion of the digital infrastructure and in education, which business has long been advocating to improve the location.
In his state, Laschet has proven that he can win elections and lead a government.
However, he has clearly missed his promise to bring NRW to the top nationwide in terms of economic dynamism.
Laschet's blueprint might not be sufficient for a convincing comeback of the German economy after the Corona crisis.