Maria Heider
Author: Maria Heider

What does Europe have to do with me?

02 April 2019
MORE Stage features German Federal Foreign Office on #citizensdialogue
Intro pic of venue

“There is nothing good, unless you do it”. Maria Heider, METRO’s Director for Corporate Public Policy Europe, introduced with this motto of the movement “Pulse of Europe” METRO on Stage. This edition was a very special one. The reasons are threefold:

1) Not only METRO employees, but also external guests from Düsseldorf’s political and economic scene joined;

2) Apart from BASF, METRO is the only German company working together with the Foreign Office on the format “Foreign policy live – diplomats in dialogue”; and

3) we don’t always have the opportunity to discuss about Europe in our workplaces… although “Europe matters to METRO”, as pointed out by Ivonne Bollow, Global Director for Corporate Public Policy.

guests sharing their opinion

mr kindl and clara mokry on stage

This time our colleagues and guests had their say. Andreas Kindl, Director for Strategic Communication at the Federal the Foreign Office, introduced current topics of high interest such as Brexit, migration, democratic processes and integration in the European Union. Clara Mokry, European activist and promoter of Pulse of Europe, moderated the discussion.

close up mr kindl

question from the audience 3

The audience was very committed and did not hesitate to challenge Mr Kindl with critical questions or to share their views and perceptions on concrete questions when asked by the moderator. All in all, our audience proved to be pro-European, but their opinions and proposals differed when it came to discuss ways to overcome the (perceived) democratic deficit within the EU or the need for reforms.

question from the audience

In her closing remarks, Ivonne Bollow stated the importance that a strong Europe and a functioning single market has for METRO, i.e. an international company with presence in 15 member states, in 2 candidate and 2 associated countries, and with 80.000 employees and 9 million customers in the EU alone. Beyond that, we are a global, cosmopolitan company which stands against populist protectionism and nationalism.

“METRO is a global company with its foundation in Europe, where it reaches over 9 million customers across 15 EU member states which are birthplace for 80.000 of our employees. Just like our customers – restaurants, hotels, caterers and independent grocers – our business can only thrive in a peaceful and stable environment.

For this, the European Union and the Single Market have been both preconditions as well as guarantors, providing a framework to grow and succeed. However, in recent years it has unfortunately revealed inability to act on internal and external matters. Achievements that have been taken for granted – democracy as well as free movement of people, goods, services and capital – now need our attention and defence.

While reforming the EU is needed and the respective criticism is important, it shall not lead to the erosion or to rejection of our community and values. This would pave the way back to a nation-state mentality likely to weaken Europe. One of its consequences is protectionism, which has become a reality and undermines the Single Market. While empowerment is protection, populist protectionism is the opposite. Europe must act united to attain progress – for people and business."

potrait of Olaf Koch

Olaf Koch, CEO of METRO AG

#ThisTimeImVoting – The elections to the European Parliament take place from 23rd to 26th May 2019.