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The CDU Adopts a Neoliberal Party Program (February 23, 1994)

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Competition Policy

78. Individual freedom and an open society are prerequisites for competition, which itself is the fundament of broad opportunity. We want to guarantee individuals a fair and equal choice, keep markets open, and prevent unfair competition. Wherever the concentration of economic power infringes upon the principle of competition, the range of choices available to the individual is limited and the functioning of the market is impaired. Therefore, the state has to take steps to prevent such a concentration of economic power.

We are in favor of adapting the existing special regulations on competition for the transport, insurance, banking, energy, and supply industries, for employment agencies and the freelance professions, so that they conform to the general rules of competition.

Competition policy has to operate increasingly on a European level. As this happens, it is important not to call into question the principles of competition laid down in the German cartel law. We want EG merger controls to be institutionalized through the creation of an independent European Cartel Office. In addition to merger controls, we consider another element of our policy on competition to be the limiting and removal of state subsidies, the privatization of companies in which the state is a shareholder, and the implementation of a proactive consumer policy backed up by legislation on consumer protection.

Structural Policy

79. For the development of a strong economy in Eastern Germany there is no alternative to the market and further privatization. However, the special situation in that part of Germany means that, in the interests of the people there, it is necessary to pursue an active structural policy for a longer transitional period. The construction of a new and modern infrastructure has priority. We are trying to achieve as broad a degree of privatization as possible across the board. Only by creating companies that are capable of withstanding competitive pressure will we be able to achieve comparable living conditions throughout Germany. To make this change possible and to guarantee the future of industry in Eastern Germany, the state needs to provide support that is comprehensive – but that also decreases over time. In order to revitalize ailing industrial regions and to build up promising ones as centers of growth and development, we aim to prepare enterprises that are capable of reconstruction, but have yet to be privatized, for competition and privatization. The aim of this active structural policy is to give Eastern Germany a broad industrial base that can survive and flourish in the future.

Through a close linking of structural and employment policies, we aim both to bridge and shorten the period between the collapse of old, uneconomic sources of employment and the creation of new jobs capable of withstanding competitive conditions, and at the same time to keep the ensuing social hardship to a minimum. This policy also aims to prevent the local, skilled workforce from moving out of the region, to encourage them to improve their qualifications, and to give them solid prospects of employment in the future.

In Western Germany, there must also be a rigorous program of privatization of publicly owned companies and ones in which the government is a shareholder. The construction and operation of the infrastructure in the fields of transport, public planning, water supply, and wastewater disposal should be privatized as much as possible. Private business operations, controlled through market competition, are the best way to guarantee economic freedom, efficiency, and responsiveness to changing market conditions. Social support is secured by social and employment policy provisions that are designed to ensure comparable living conditions and social assistance. It should not be the result of direct state involvement in business.

Continuous structural change is essential in order to survive international competition. Such change, however, must be left to market forces and properly functioning competition, and cannot be achieved by state regulation of economic activities. The task of structural policy must be to do everything possible to strengthen the ability of companies and their workforces to cope with structural adaptation and to provide social protection where needed. Where sectoral or regional aid becomes necessary to achieve this, then such aid should be of limited duration, should decrease over time, and should be linked to conformity requirements.

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Source of original German text: CDU, Grundsatzprogramm: “Freiheit in Verantwortung” (1994).

Source of English translation: Basic Program of the German CDU: “Freedom in Responsibility,” CDU website (retrieved May 5, 2008), with slight edits by GHDI staff.

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