How we represent our interests
Since the opening of METRO AG’s Brussels office in 2005 and our Berlin office in January 2010, we have actively communicated our understanding of “responsible lobbying”. By participating in discussions and publishing positions, we contribute to a discourse on the subject. For METRO AG, this transparent work is of utmost importance.
Politicians and the public rightly expect companies to contribute their expertise to current debates. Topics such as consumer protection and information, food safety, the responsible use of resources, and the relationship between employers and employees are issues that matter to many people. For METRO, it goes without saying that the company will contribute to these political and social discussions.
Today, responsible lobbying therefore means that companies use their political clout to help develop a social framework that is conducive to sustainable economic activity and thus ensures the well-being of present and future generations. For example, in concrete terms, this means that every day:
- our lobbying is transparent and consistent
- the objectives we pursue and the instruments we use are clearly discernible
- the same message is communicated to all interlocutors
- our goals are consistent with the sustainable development strategy of the company.
To support this, a series of measures and instruments have been developed which demonstrate the responsible representation of METRO AG’s interests.
The Digital Representative Office
Via the Digital Representative Office with its own website, we provide information on topics from politics and society that are important for us as a company, our stakeholders in politics and civil society and also for our customers. Our public events and positions are also transparently documented here.
The demands on companies to declare and represent their interests in a more transparent way than in the past are increasing, therefore every contact person should be easy to find here. Our positions, which feed into the political and social discourse, should be freely accessible and thus easier to find.
Since 2010, we have also been using social media and tweeting via our own channel @METRO_Polis, covering topics of transparency, consumers, sustainability, food, small and medium-sized enterprises and other political issues – our gateway to the digital representation of interests and, at the same time, an offer for dialogue.
The German Retail Association (HDE), the Federation of German Wholesale, Foreign Trade and Services (BGA) and METRO launched the “Wednesday Social” at the beginning of 2010, modelled on the Berlin Salon culture. The event series is intended to contribute to making the topics that are important to us more visible in the political arena in the capital. This medium has also been used in Brussels since 2013 to make key issues visible. Our cooperations have expanded and also include the European umbrella association EuroCommerce, the European Movement International and Forum Europe. All events are documented on YouTube and can also be relived via our Digital Representative Office. It is crucial that not only representatives from politics, industry and the trade sector are invited to participate in this series, but also think tanks, NGOs, journalists, opinion leaders and other interested people.
At smaller events in Berlin and Brussels upon personal invitation, we also discuss topics that are controversial for us or our clients with political stakeholders and decision-makers. We also like to use these formats (“Tischzeit” in Berlin and “Bon Appetit” in Brussels) to initiate discussions in cooperation with other partners, e.g. from the SME sector or the digital economy.
The personal meeting
Personal discussions with members of parliament, members of government, Commission and Länder representatives and their staff are, of course, of particular importance. The “power of the personal relationship” is largely based on trust in one another. Especially in the field of political communication, it is evident time and again that a personal connection and personal exchange are the most valued instruments of communication. These discussions will also be conducted transparently on our part. We don’t appreciate “back room diplomacy”. The positions that we represent in these talks are usually also publicly available in our Digital Representative Office or will be provided upon request.
In addition to traditional stakeholders such as associations and companies, the EU Transparency Register has also included non-governmental organisations, law firms and think tanks since 2015. Registration is voluntary, as with the previous version of the Register.
According to our guiding principle of “responsible lobbying”, the representation of interests should be carried out in an open and transparent manner. Therefore, we support the EU regulations and also the current discussion on broadening the scope of the register and making it compulsory. Transparency can strengthen confidence in the EU institutions in general and in the process of interest representation and political opinion-forming in particular. METRO AG’s information in the EU Transparency Register can be viewed ec.europa.eu.
Making interest representation more perceptible
A transparent, responsible representation of interests is an indispensable prerequisite for democratic decision-making in open societies. No policy maker and no administrative authority can be fully informed about the demands and requirements of businesses. Companies are part of society and therefore, within the framework of good lawmaking, they bear responsibility for a successful economy and a functioning, open, social and sustainable society. Lobbying is no mystery, but simply the legitimate, democratic representation of interests. Within the framework of lawmaking, policymakers must only be able to understand that lobbyists – as Norbert Lammert once said – “always offer their expertise in the form of interests”. This applies to consumer associations, environmental associations, animal welfare interests as well as to business representatives and their associations. Reconciling the interests of non-governmental organisations with those of government institutions and parliaments is absolutely essential for good democracy. Therefore, the representation of interests is all the more credible if it not only represents individual interests, but also always keeps an eye on the big picture.
Professionalised interest representation
For METRO, it is important to maintain a lively exchange with young people about the dynamic practices in politics. For this reason, METRO supports students at Quadriga University in Berlin with scholarships. Quadriga has dedicated itself to providing further training for business and political leaders. In addition, we provide scholarship holders with practical insights into our company’s stakeholder communication. This cooperation also promotes useful exchange at other levels: Our team is always active with seminars, personal discussions and the support of graduation theses. In addition, we are also proud of our cooperation of similar nature with the Institute of Political Science at the University of Mainz.
METRO is also involved in various associations and organisations in order to represent its interests in a variety of ways. You can view a current list of our memberships www.metroag.de; if you have any further questions, please contact us directly.