Establishing dialog and exchange
As a company with global operations, we have to deal with a wide range of political and societal changes and decisions that have a major impact on our business activities. It is therefore important for Daimler that we represent the interests of our company in an open and trusting dialog and that we develop joint solutions.
Engaging in a dialog with policy-makers and society
Representing our company’s political interests means engaging in a continuous dialog with decision-makers, including politicians, government and public officials, and representatives of political interest groups, trade organizations, and business associations. We conduct discussions with such individuals at various levels, listen to what they have to say, communicate our interests and concerns to them, and assume social responsibility. Our dialog with representatives of NGOs and various social movements is also one of our tasks, and it is becoming increasingly important.
Our strategy for representing our political interests is always aligned with our corporate strategy, hence the transformation of the automotive industry plays a particularly important role. We have developed several new event and dialog formats for this purpose. We use theses formats to systematically approach decision-makers and other societal stakeholders in order to discuss not only core topics in the automotive industry but also the issues that will shape its future. We are open to constructive dialog with all relevant stakeholders, and we take other points of view into account in our activities.
In return, our employees contribute their knowledge and commitment to these discussions. For example, we participate in the strategic dialog for the automotive industry in Baden-Württemberg, as well as in the German government’s National Platform on the Future of Mobility and many other forums. In these discussions, we work together with government officials, politically and socially committed groups, opinion leaders, and experts in order to promote the transformation of the automotive industry.
How we conduct our work responsibly
Daimler has defined principles for our participation in political dialog and the representation of our interests. In these activities, we maintain political reluctance and balance. The core principle is to maintain neutrality when dealing with political parties and representatives of interest groups.
We seek to ensure that the representation of our interests at the political level is carried out in accordance with applicable regulations and ethical standards. In our work as members of sector associations and in our cooperation with other companies, we pay particular attention to antitrust regulations.
The principles that are binding within our Group are, among other things, laid down in a worldwide policy and in the Group’s Integrity Code.
The policy, “Lobbying and Political Donations/Donations to Political Parties,” governs how donations to political decision-makers and political parties are handled, as well as the use of other instruments for representing our interests in the political realm. Our employees can find both of these policies in the policy database on the intranet.
Daimler is also listed in the transparency register of the European Union, and it complies with the register’s Code of Conduct.
The policies mentioned above also regulate how we address risks that may arise in connection with the political representation of our interests. These risks are also addressed through firmly established Group-wide compliance processes. Complaints and notifications related to our lobbying activities can be addressed through our whistleblower system BPO. In accordance with the legal requirements and our in-house policies, we regularly conduct training courses for those employees at Group companies of the Daimler Group and Daimler AG who represent our interests and who are not organizationally under the direction of the External Affairs unit.
Central coordination of the representation of our interests
Our central coordinating body for political dialog at the national and international levels is the External Affairs and Public Policy unit, which is located in Stuttgart and falls under the responsibility of the Chairman of the Board of Management. This unit operates a global network with offices in Berlin, Brussels, Beijing, Singapore, Madrid, and Washington and also has corporate representations in our markets. Our objective is to represent our interests politically by addressing political and societal target groups using content that has been coordinated across the Group.
The head of the unit is also a permanent member of the Group Sustainability Board and as such is actively involved in many sustainability-related issues. In addition, External Affairs cooperates closely with the members of the Board of Management and the specialist units on questions related to the representation of the Group’s interests.
For this purpose, External Affairs also regularly holds Governmental Affairs Committee meetings. These are attended by the Head of External Affairs, other representatives from the unit, Board of Management members, and other top managers, at which they discuss positions and processes that are important for the Group.
In accordance with our policy, employees at Group companies of the Daimler Group and Daimler AG who represent our interests must register with External Affairs if they are not organizationally under its direction. External Affairs also trains these employees for this purpose. We use the standardized Daimler human resources processes to select the employees of External Affairs. These individuals are remunerated at the same rate as employees at the same levels of the hierarchy within the Group.
External Affairs ensures the continuous sharing of information in various formats. The employees of External Affairs, as well as the colleagues who represent Daimler’s political interests as part of their activities abroad, are invited to the relevant informational events.
What we want to achieve
The overarching goal of our representation of our interests is to harmonize the company’s interests with those of society at large to the greatest possible extent. More specifically, in our discussions with political decision-makers, we aim to achieve greater planning security for Daimler and to contribute our ideas to social change processes.
Climate protection and air quality
For Daimler, the Paris Agreement on climate protection is more than a commitment – it is a conviction.
We support the idea of political conditions that are open to a variety of technologies rather than the one-sided promotion of a single technology.
In the short term, we support battery-electric drive systems in vehicles and in use cases that are suitable for this purpose. A comprehensive charging infrastructure, such as fast-charging stations along highways, that uses standardized technologies and a customer-friendly payment system is a key precondition for the further expansion of electric mobility.
CO2 reduction leading to CO2 neutrality can only be successful if the associated energy generation and energy sources are CO2-free. In addition, every type of drive system must make a contribution to decarbonization. We therefore assume that in order to reach the climate protection goals, e-fuels will play an important role in the medium to long term.
In this regard, fuel cell vehicles could be a climate-friendly alternative, especially for applications that require large amounts of energy. Examples include heavy-duty vehicles that are used over long distances, such as long-haul trucks.
Moreover, the taxation and incentive systems for alternative drive systems should be as homogenous as possible among the various EU member states.
Future emissions regulations for the further improvement of air quality should be based on air quality problems that can actually be expected or that currently exist, and they should be harmonized worldwide as far as possible. Future measurement methods have to be fully technologically developed and robust. The industry needs sufficient lead time to implement the associated regulations.
In order to offer residents clean, safe, generally accessible, and affordable mobility and thus improve the quality of life in cities, the intelligent use and interconnection of all modes of transportation is essential. Moreover, the various modes of transportation must be utilized in context and in accordance with their respective strengths.
Vehicle and traffic safety have always been and continue to be an important focus of our vehicle development activities. Daimler supports the efforts undertaken by government authorities to create the conditions necessary for achieving further improvements in traffic safety.
Respect for human rights is a key component of our sustainable business strategy as well as a perpetual obligation of our Group. We want to counteract risks to human rights, and we strive to achieve mobility without human rights violations.
In order to implement our sustainability requirements along the supply chain, we advocate the creation of uniformly accepted international standards. However, it is important to ensure that the associated regulations are appropriate and achievable by companies. The scope of companies’ responsibility for human rights due diligence must be clearly defined. Due Diligence obligations should be limited to the actual scope of economic influence and juridical authority along the supply and value chains.
Daimler supports the goal of sustainable financing in order to promote investments in sustainable growth. A correctly designed taxonomy offers the potential to create more clarity in the markets and guide investments toward sustainable activities.
We are in close contact with political and social stakeholders in the vicinity of our sites. Our top priority is to harmonize the interests of our sites and the concerns of the local stakeholders.
As a globally operating company, Daimler promotes free and fair trade. Free trade and investments are key factors for innovation, employment, growth, and prosperity.
In order to comply with the requirements of digitalization and the transformation of the automotive industry, we advocate the modernization of labor laws.
We believe that a key role is played by the rights embodied in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the Core Labour Standards of the International Labour Organization (ILO).
Measures for ensuring transparent representation of our interests
Daimler wishes to take part in political and public opinion-shaping processes as a trustworthy and dependable discussion partner. We therefore communicate in a reliable and fact-based manner with governments, associations, organizations, and social interest groups, and we incorporate their suggestions into our actions. In the process, we take into account society’s interest in transparency and openness.
Political dialog and representation of interests
As part of their collaboration with political decision-makers, Daimler employees serve as members of various public and political advisory boards, such as the Expert Group on European political issues in the Baden-Württemberg Ministry of Justice and European Affairs. In 2019 we also held a variety of dialog events. In line with our strategy regarding the political representation of our interests, we are focusing on the transformation of the automotive industry. In February and November, the Board of Management members Renata Jungo Brüngger (Integrity and Legal Affairs) and Wilfried Porth (Human Resources and Director of Labor Relations) took part in a political dialog with selected high-ranking stakeholders from the Stuttgart area.
During the reporting year, we also invited our stakeholders to come to various dialog-oriented events outside Germany. For example, we organized the permanent exhibition “Mercedes-Benz meets Jawor” to commemorate the opening of the new engine plant in Jawor, which is also the first production facility of Mercedes-Benz Cars in Poland. The exhibition informs the local population about the new plant as well as our company and its history. Around 6,000 people have visited the exhibition since it opened.
Donations to political parties and other political contributions
The entire Board of Management of Daimler AG has to approve in advance all donations to political parties (regardless of the amount) as well as all donations of €50,000 or more (including taxes) to other organizations. External Affairs has to submit its opinion before any decision can be made. In 2019, the Board of Management of Daimler AG decided not to make any donations to political parties in 2019. This decision was made independently of current political and economic events.
Memberships in associations and initiatives
In addition to direct dialog with political decision-makers, we are represented indirectly via major industrial associations, such as the German Association of the Automotive Industry (VDA). In these ways we participate in many political debates that are relevant to the Group, such as the discussion of air quality in German cities and the promotion of sustainable mobility. With our know-how and our technology we actively contribute to finding solutions. We also maintain regular contact with representatives of civic organizations and other companies, and we participate in further associations, committees, and sustainability initiatives in addition to the dialogs that we have initiated ourselves.
How we assess the effectiveness of our management approach
The External Affairs unit regularly reports to the Advisory Board for Integrity and Corporate Responsibility about its activities and incorporates the Advisory Board’s feedback into its planning. In addition, External Affairs also regularly submits reports to the Supervisory Board of Daimler AG.