On June 6 - 9, 2024, we will elect our representatives to the European Parliament. Why do you vote in the European Elections?

OB: Europe means peace. It was not created without reason. The Iron and Steel Union was the core of the current EU. Ou company-thyssenkrupp-is the core of it. Despite all the criticism of the constitution of the EU now: This is the most peaceful Europe we have ever had. With our vote, we decide who will represent us in parliament for the next five years. We should go and vote democratically - no matter what color.

TN: The European Union is facing major challenges. On the one hand, these come from outside. On the other hand, the rise of the right, which supposedly has simple answers to complex questions, is having an impact. Right-wing populists are not working on solutions, but on division and incitement. They unsettle people because they believe they can win more votes this way. I stand for a European Union in which peace, shared prosperity and social justice are possible. That is what is up for election on June 6 - 9.

Is migration also a relevant issue in the tk group?

TN: Every year more people retire and the labor market is not able to compensate for these missing resources. We will not be able to solve this demographic problem alone. A smart migration policy can help close to this gap-we at thyssenkrupp stand for diversity and cosmopolitanism!

OB: thyssenkrupp stand for diversity in action. Tolerance is basically our first name. What we do not tolerate is intolerance towards other people-just because they come from somewhere else or look different. Work is the biggest driver of integration. That is what this company stands for. That is what we stand for. thyssenkrupp operates not only in Europe, but all over the world.

How does the group benefit from the fact that export barriers have fallen?

TN: Germany is an export nation with a strong foreign trade balance, which was and remains economically necessary in order to secure jobs in Germany. Free trade and the movement of goods in the EU are a model of success. And we will only be able to survive in global competition with a strong, united Europe.

OB: Globalization must be shaped. We should not be under any illusions: Germany and Europe are vanishingly small in the world. We must look very carefully at where we give up our strengths. Let’s take steel or the automobile industry: we can see very clearly where it leads if we don’t take the future into our own hands.

What is the most important thing about the European Union?

OB: Peace. In a word: peace. As soon as two people are in a room, it can becomes difficult. Like in a marriage. But it’s worth it.

TN: Since it’s founding and it is further development, the European Union has repeatedly proven that peace, economic stability and democracy work together. This development is not a given, but requires our commitment.

What do you expect from the European Parliament?

OB: Performance. We must become better at giving people the results they expect. There are obviously reasons why more and more right-wing parties are being elected in Europe. We must work on the reasons.

TN: We need more Europe, but different. In many areas we need more European cooperation, while at the same time social achievements in the member states must be protected and expanded.

What challenges do you see?

TN: Peace in Europe is one of the fundamental, essential components of the community in the coming years. With Russia’s attack on Ukraine, the feeling of invulnerability has been lost in part. We must stand together in Europe as a whole. But the economic union cannot exist without the workers and their unions in Europe. Economic democracy is a continuous process that must be constantly reconfigured.

OB: The basic structure of the EU must be readjusted. We must be clearer in terms of decision-making responsibility. It must become clearer what someone is actually responsible for and why.

The challenges could become even greater if parties that try to play off national interests against European ones rise.

TN: In addition to peace, the EU protects freedom and human rights. Today we take these advantages for granted. In difficult times we must come closer together. The EU must become more capable of action, more democratic, more ecological and more socially just.

OB: Our basic values are clear. 75 years of the basic law these days. Anyone who opposes it should have a problem with all democrats. There is reason why the basic law was written like this. It is the bright answer to the darkest days of our history. We have a special responsibility as Germans. Let us take it upon ourselves.

What worries you about the upcoming elections in Germany and Europe?

OB: Fear is not a good advisor. We should show our faces. How did BAP put it back then after Solingen*? “Ass up. Get your teeth apart.”

TN: It is worrying that the AfD and other extreme right-wing parties are being strengthened further. In Germany, politically active people are being attacked in the streets. In Europe, right-wing extremist parties are in charge, form governments and are leading in opinion polls. National interests are coming to the forefront for populists and right-wing extremist parties, and supposedly simple solutions are supposed to be the answer to complex challenges. We must resolutely oppose these developments - June 6 - 9 is a good opportunity to do so.

What gives you hope?

OB: Democracy does not work without democrats. As profane as it sounds…I think we have a very strong democracy in Germany. I would like to see more democrats who are committed. For the sake of our constitution.

TN: In times when democratic structures and states around the world seem to be leaving the previous path of democracy in many cases, it is all the more important to stand together. I am a convinced democrat. I stand for a democratic, fair and social Europe.

How can we counteract this?

TN: We can defend ourselves and ensure that our democratic values are not ignored. Democracy depends on us respecting and protecting the values of our constitution. The trade unions and other organizations are also called upon here and are already active.

OB: Open your mouth. Raise your voice. Don’t keep quiet when silence is inappropriate.

*Editors note: On May 29th, 1993, four young residents of Solingen, Germany, from the extreme right-wing milieu set fire to the house of Genc family. Five girls and women of Turkish origin were killed in the attack, 17 people were injured.

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