German chemical firms plan pro-EU campaign to get staff voting
Chemical firms in Germany will urge their hundreds of thousands of employees to get out and vote in European Parliament elections next month, as a show against populism and for the EU.
The campaign would "highlight the advantages of a Europe that is united and capable of acting," said Hans Van Bylen, president of the powerful VCI industry federation and chief executive of chemical heavyweight Henkel.
Like other sectors, the chemical industry fears the EU could be weakened by a surge in support for far-right parties that question the entire project.
A European Parliament with stronger anti-establishment representation could hobble Brussels in trade confrontations with the United States and China, or hamstring attempts to deepen economic integration among the 27 member states set to remain after Brexit.
Hoping to fend off the political extremes, the VCI's 1,700 member firms will organize "European dialogue" meetings for workers and neighbours, including opportunities to meet their local MEPs.
Meanwhile the federation has launched an information website and plans media advertising to encourage employees to vote on May 26th.
"Companies in this sector live European integration every day," Van Bylen said, pointing to tens of billions of euros in trade each year with Germany's EU neighbours.
The chemical industry is the country's third-largest sector after car and machine-tool manufacturing, employing 462,000 people at companies ranging from global players such as BASF, Bayer, Merck or Linde to tiny family businesses.
As a whole, it turned over around €204 billion in 2018.