“A functioning internal market is part of Europe’s resilience”
Stand: 2:39 p.m. | Reading time: 4 minutes
Supply chains, internal market, drug safety: At the WELT Summit Vienna, leaders from politics and business are calling for better strategies for dealing with pandemics. On one point, Austria’s Chancellor Kurz and his Minister for Economic Affairs are very clear.
When there is a yardstick for fear of delivery bottlenecks, it is the supermarket shelves with toilet paper. So far, the situation seems to be relaxed: no gaps are visible. But the number of infections is now at its highest level since April. There is growing concern that the coronavirus is not only making many people sick again, but is also disrupting global supply chains.
At the WELT Summit Vienna, which the media company Axel Springer organized this week together with the Austrian real estate and trading holding Signa in Vienna, prominent participants from politics and business gave at least some of the all-clear.
“During the pandemic, supply chains have proven to be much more robust than expected. There were no major shortages in Germany, except perhaps for toilet paper, ”said Stefan Oschmann, CEO of the pharmaceutical and technology group Merck. “All in all, food and medicines were available at all times. There were very few medicines that were temporarily in short supply, and that was mainly due to the border closings. “
Such border closings, which hinder the free flow of goods and services, are what politicians want to prevent at all costs during the second coronavirus wave.
“It will be important for all of us to keep the borders open. Free movement of goods and people is crucial for economic recovery, ”said Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz. His economics minister Margarete Schramböck became even clearer: “Europe’s resilience requires a functioning internal market.”
“Ecosystem for Innovations”
After all, the border closings did not lead to life-threatening bottlenecks in medicines, this scenario was initially feared. “It is a myth that antibiotics should have become scarce in the wake of the pandemic,” said Merck boss Oschmann. “That was never the case. Anyone who is now calling for pharmaceutical production to be relocated to Europe is doing so for completely different reasons. ”
In fact, economists are calling for more, not less globalization. Instead of importing drugs exclusively from China, new sources of supply would have to be opened up in other countries. But Europe itself must also change.
“What we absolutely need is a European ecosystem for innovation that can react quickly to crises like this one. The current crisis has shown that. The pandemic is therefore a wake-up call, “said Oschmann. He called on European governments to agree on an action plan to increase the continent’s resilience in times of crisis.
As an example, he cited the USA, which promoted innovation in a much more targeted manner. “It used to take up to 15 years to develop vaccinations, now there is a good chance that we will have a vaccine against Covid-19 within a year. But that won’t work without targeted government support. ”
The boss of the vaccine manufacturer CureVac, Franz-Werner Haas, could only confirm this. “A vaccination will not fall from the sky overnight like a meteorite. It takes a lot of time and money to create an effective, safe vaccination, ”he said. It is all the more important to make this process as transparent as possible. “The pandemic is global, so the answer to it must also be global. This applies above all to the future vaccine or vaccines and their development. “
During the crisis, some large companies developed their own strategies to become more resilient.
Online trading opportunity
The head of the cosmetics group Douglas, Tina Müller, has trimmed the retailer online. “The crisis has accelerated the digitization of the retail sector again. We are experiencing changed consumer behavior due to Covid-19. This trend will continue, ”she said. City centers were still suffering from the decline in customer frequency and thus from the economic consequences of the pandemic. “But the sales in online trading are now making up for the minus for us.”
The group now has 40 percent on the Internet. “This means that we are no longer far from transforming ourselves into a majority online retailer. These transformations mean not only changes in the business model, but also in the corporate culture, ”said Müller.
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