Mr. Weil, how is the economy doing in Lower Saxony?

Christian Muessgens

Business correspondent in Hamburg.

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Susanne Preuss

Business correspondent in Stuttgart.

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All in all quite passable. This is of course different in the individual sectors, but there is good news. The job market in Lower Saxony has picked up again faster than in other federal states. We even have more jobs than before Corona, 3.1 million people are currently employed subject to social security contributions, although large parts of the service industry - from retail to gastronomy to the hotel industry - are still suffering severely from the restrictions caused by the corona. If we can take the shock out of Corona, hopefully there will soon be more confidence in these sectors as well.

Above all, we have to take care of stationary retail, which online retail is breathing down its neck.

In Lower Saxony, for example, we made 120 million euros available with an immediate program to make city centers more attractive.

But industry in particular is faced with enormous tasks, also because of climate protection?

Yes, and of course that affects the automotive industry, which is so important for Lower Saxony.

The course has been set in the direction of electromobility there, people know how it works technically and demand is growing.

It is important that the suppliers can also participate in this change, there are a lot of concerns.

In the steel industry, too, people know how the transformation can work, as was also clearly demonstrated in your interview with Salzgitter boss Mr. Groebler.

But this will not work without strong state support and changed political framework conditions.

Dow Chemicals in Stade is another example: The company accounts for one percent of Germany's electricity consumption.

For climate-friendly production, Dow needs enough renewable energy and competitive energy prices.

We have a great interest in productions taking place under ecological conditions in Germany in the future.

The north plays an important role in energy procurement, not only as a windy location for new parks, but also for turbine manufacturers such as Enercon based in Aurich.

At the same time, hardly any new wind turbines have been built.

How can this be explained?

Do you know the Malefiz game? Then you know this situation, that whenever you have cleared a barrier, the next barrier is put in front of you - by whomever. This picture comes very close to the planning, approval and implementation processes for renewable energies and also to the situation when the line is being expanded. All of these processes are based on federal law and they are all completely over-regulated. This meant that we could not use our potential. Added to this are political mistakes. Federal Minister of Economics Peter Altmaier calculated almost until recently with an electricity requirement for 2030 that was completely unrealistic. This had fatal effects on the tender volumes. The whole system has to be turned upside down.If the federal government takes on this mammoth task, it will have our full support.

What can the country do now?

We are currently discussing updating our climate law.

We have homework to do there.

It is about the energetic renovation of properties in the country, about making land available for open-space photovoltaic systems, but also for wind turbines on land.

The state of Lower Saxony is a large landowner.

We have a lot of free space and a lot of wind, but there is also resistance.

There is a hard struggle for every location, sometimes like house warfare.

Can you understand the people?

Of course, anyone who has been able to look out over an unobstructed landscape will not be thrilled if large turbines are to be located there in the future.

But it must be clear to us that we will not be able to master the huge challenge of climate protection if everyone sticks to the status quo.

The imbalances between the structurally weak and the economically strong regions are still a major challenge for Lower Saxony.

How can a better balance be created over the long term?