The 2012/12/17 at 08:26
Marie Luginsland, in Germany
On 20 March next year, the 80 Presidents of German Chambers will be electing the successor to Hans Dietrich Driftmann at the helm of the DIHK*. The latter will be retiring from the position that he has held since 2009. Eric Schweitzer has every chance of taking over the position. Familiar with Chamber workings as President of the Berlin CCI** since 2004, member of the DIHK member bureau and its international bureau, this 47-year-old business leader today has accumulated enough experience for presiding over – during a four-year mandate once renewable once – a body whose functioning is increasingly controversial (see Actu-CCI of 19 November and 11 December).
Presented as the protégé of the current President, Eric Schweitzer, the anticipated candidate symbolises no less than change at the head of the 80 German CCIs. For while nothing proves that his being elected can calm down criticisms, it would nevertheless mark a turning point in the history of the DIHK.
Beyond the handover to a new generation, the profile of this potential President signals a new era. Indeed, while the DIHK has traditionally been managed by an SME leader, the federation of German CCIs would now have the head of an industrial group holding its reins. Eric Schweitzer is Chairman of the Alba Group, one of the world’s top ten businesses for waste collection, sorting, processing and recycling. The Alba Group (turnover of 3.2 billion euros, 9,000 employees) whose subsidiary Interseroh is also present in France, is today also considered as a raw materials and environmental services group. While his predecessors – Hans-Peter Stihl, a manufacturer of saws by the same name, Ludwig-Georg Braun, Chairman of a medical equipment company, and Hans-Dietrich Driftmann, General Manager of the food industry group Kölln – managed big names in German industry, Erich Schweitzer represents an international-scale sector of activity. He is also very involved in energy issues.
A man from Berlin
Concerned about the consequences, on businesses, of the energy change entailed by the abandonment of nuclear power, Erich Schweitzer belongs to a sustainable development committee set up by the federal government. Change at the top of the DIHK would thus also be marked by the election of a Berlin native with ties to power. In this country strongly marked by federalism, the proximity of the DIHK with the government has so far not been established as a general rule. But now, at a time when an industrial policy is emerging in Germany, voices from the Chambers of Commerce will be more important than ever. Eric Schweitzer has already announced that he will work towards a new image of business if he is elected.