Siemens CEO Calls for `Germany First' Where Europe Falls Behind

(Bloomberg) -- Siemens AG Chief Executive Officer Joe Kaeser said Germany must aspire to a distinct national strategy and not rely solely on its European partners if the region’s largest economy wants to maintain its place among global powerhouses like China or the U.S.

Speaking in Berlin, Kaeser called for a “Germany first” approach that would require the government to more clearly define its global interests. This is different, he said, from a nationalist “Germany alone” path, which he rejects. While European collaboration and integration remain key, “we can’t rely solely on Europe,” Kaeser said at the Suedduetsche Zeitung economic summit.

“It’s great if the others participate, but we shouldn’t let them hold us back,” Kaeser said of Germany’s European partners.

Appearing alongside four other panelists to discuss the future of jobs and growth in Germany, Kaeser lauded the power of innovation in the country, pointing to its leadership in areas like automobiles, chemicals and insurance. One area where Europe must come together is in energy policy, if it wants to keep up with the U.S. and China, he said.

The CEO struck a more conciliatory tone toward common European goals at the end of the discussion, saying regional integration remains a priority, but that there must be a Plan B.

“It’s Europe first, and if that doesn’t work, then Germany and France, and if that’s not an option then we’ll have to see,” Kaeser said.

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