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Latest News

EU needs 'more robust' China strategy: Foreign policy chief

EU needs 'more robust' China strategy: Foreign policy chief EU needs 'more robust' China strategy: Foreign policy chief
The European Union must adopt a "more robust" strategy to deal with an increasingly assertive China, the bloc's foreign policy chief said Monday...
Read More...

IMF approves $2.77 bn emergency virus loan for Egypt

IMF approves $2.77 bn emergency virus loan for Egypt IMF approves $2.77 bn emergency virus loan for Egypt
The IMF board approved $2.77 billion in emergency aid for Egypt on Monday, to help the country deal with the impact of the coronavirus pandemic,...
Read More...

EU to reassure Balkan hopefuls they are not forgotten

EU to reassure Balkan hopefuls they are not forgotten EU to reassure Balkan hopefuls they are not forgotten
With the coronavirus crisis hardening Europe's borders and draining the continent's resources, Brussels is trying to reassure its Balkan neighbours...
Read More...

Divided EU leaders meet on virus recovery plan

Divided EU leaders meet on virus recovery plan Divided EU leaders meet on virus recovery plan
EU leaders are set to haggle on Thursday over a giant package to help their economies recover from the coronavirus pandemic, but bitter divisions...
Read More...

Thousands of Israelis demonstrate to 'let democracy win'

Thousands of Israelis demonstrate to 'let democracy win' Thousands of Israelis demonstrate to 'let democracy win'
Thousands of Israelis demonstrated Sunday in Tel Aviv to warn against what they said was a threat to democracy from ongoing coalition talks...
Read More...

New round of EU-UK Brexit trade talks next week

New round of EU-UK Brexit trade talks next week New round of EU-UK Brexit trade talks next week
British and European Union officials on Wednesday agreed to schedule three new rounds of post-Brexit trade talks, starting next week, after...
Read More...

EU to debate strategy to exit virus lockdown

EU to debate strategy to exit virus lockdown EU to debate strategy to exit virus lockdown
The European Commission will on Wednesday consider how to craft a plan to ease the bloc out of a virus lockdown that has dealt a body blow...
Read More...

US warns Hungary on 'undue' rights restrictions over virus

US warns Hungary on 'undue' rights restrictions over virus US warns Hungary on 'undue' rights restrictions over virus
The United States on Wednesday warned Hungary against restricting human rights and press freedom after parliament gave nationalist leader Viktor...
Read More...

Spectre of coronavirus quarantine haunts Hungarian democracy

Spectre of coronavirus quarantine haunts Hungarian democracy Spectre of coronavirus quarantine haunts Hungarian democracy
A "dictatorship" at the heart of the EU? A draft law to grant anti-coronavirus emergency measures set for adoption by Budapest has alarmed...
Read More...

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It's not often German big business openly dabbles in politics, but many companies are urging their employees to reject eurosceptics and right-wing populists in May 26 European

Parliament elections.

From Volkswagen to Eon and Thyssenkrupp, Germany's corporate titans have become unusually engaged in defence of an open Europe, a position that is in their own strategic interest.

"Vote for Europe on 26.5. -- it's about freedom, it's about prosperity, it's about our Europe," read a huge poster in downtown Munich unveiled Monday by Bavarian industry federation VBW.

It was the latest such initiative after the VCI chemical industry association recently launched a "Ja zu Europa" ("Yes to Europe") campaign.

Alarmed by projections that see the far-right garnering at least one in five votes in the polls, the head of the German Employers' Confederation, "boss of bosses" Ingo Kramer, in February warned of the "serious" threat extremist forces pose to the European project.

"I ask all German companies to clearly show their colours," he wrote, cautioning that "anti-Europeans from the left and the right" could end up obstructing the European Parliament.

Hubertus Bardt, head of the IW economic research institute, said that "never before have I seen so many companies publicly call for people to go and vote".

"Businesses are realising the importance of European integration," he told AFP.

- Open markets, free trade -

Most of the initiatives have come from large export-driven corporations that "are among the biggest beneficiaries of the European single market," said Alexander Kritikos from the German Institute for Economic Research (DIW).

The rest of the European Union accounted for 780 billion euros ($870 billion) worth of German exports last year, its biggest market.

"Developments such as Brexit, increasing populism, euroscepticism and nationalism pose an enormous economic risk, especially for companies of this size," said Andrea Roemmele of the Hertie School of Governance.

She said big business profits from the European single market and favours a strong EU that can assert economic interests on the world stage, while "nationalist efforts, such as those we see in the USA under President Trump, mean declining revenues".

Among other German business players, the Central Association of German Trade has published a "Yes to Europe" leaflet, while Ruhr industrial region giants Thyssenkrupp, RWE, Eon and Evonik will also encourage their employees to vote. 

Thyssenkrupp boss Guido Kerkhoff told local media last month that "we need to better explain why we need open markets and free trade to succeed, not a withdrawal into our national shells".

Volkswagen will also issue a "clear call for a vote", its human resources chief Gunnar Kilian said earlier this year, stressing that "for European unity, for our common values, for peaceful cooperation ... our democracy needs every voice".

- Brand image boost -

Kritikos said the Brexit drama had driven home the point in the remaining 27 EU states that "it would be fatal for businesses if the single market were to break up".

Beyond the issue of maintaining open trade, a company taking a clear political stance can also boost its image as a responsible corporate citizen, experts say.

In another initiative, around 50 family-run enterprises recently launched a campaign against racism and xenophobia called "Made in Germany - Made by Diversity".

"Consumers are becoming increasingly critical and are consuming not only according to economic but also social and political criteria," said Roemmele.

Citizens with pro-European views, she added, "tend to be well educated and have strong purchasing power".

On the other hand, such campaigns can further alienate those employees already drawn to far-right ideas, as populist political groups are seeking influence in works councils, particularly among several car manufacturers. 

"Companies must be careful not to fuel partisan conflicts in their factories," warned Bardt.

He pointed out that the corporate initiatives do not tend to mention any of the far-right parties by name, and said that the best way to combat extremist parties is high voter turnout. AFP

deneme