We focus on the dialog with policy-makers and society at large
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 hold discussions with such individuals at various levels, listen to what they have to say, communicate our interests and concerns to them, and declare our willingness to assume social responsibility. Another of our tasks is the dialog with representatives of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and various social movements.
Our strategy for representing our political interests is always aligned with our corporate strategy, so the transformation of the Group and of the automotive industry as a whole plays an especially important role in our talks.
We have developed various event and dialog formats in order to enable open discussions. We use these formats to specifically approach decision-makers and other societal stakeholders in order to discuss not only core topics in the automotive industry but also relevant issues that will shape our future. In doing so, we are open to other viewpoints so that we can learn from them. Moreover, we contribute our knowledge and commitment to these discussions. We also use external platforms to talk with government officials, politically and socially committed groups, opinion leaders, and experts in order to work with them on the transformation of the automotive industry. 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.
How we conduct our work responsibly
Daimler has defined its own principles for political dialog and the responsible communication of our interests. Among other things, we maintain political restraint, balance, and neutrality in our dealings with political parties, members of parliament, and government officials.
We use various instruments to ensure that the political representation of our interests is carried out in accordance with applicable regulations and ethical standards. In our work as a member of sector associations and in our cooperation with other companies, we pay particular attention to antitrust regulations. We have also defined internally binding requirements that are laid down, among other things, in a globally valid policy and in the Group’s Integrity Code. In addition, our policy for “Lobbying and Political Donations/Donations to Political Parties” governs grants, donations to political parties, and the use of other instruments for representing our interests in the political realm. Our employees can find these policies in the policy database on the intranet. Daimler is also listed in the transparency register of the European Union and complies with the register’s Code of Conduct. In Germany, we are calling for the creation of a national lobby register.
The policies mentioned above also define how we intend to address risks in connection with the political representation of our interests. These risks are also addressed through firmly established Group-wide compliance processes. Complaints and information relating to our other activities for the political representation of our interests can be addressed to our Whistleblower System BPO. In accordance with the legal requirements and our in-house policies, we also regularly conduct training courses. We train not only employees at Daimler Group companies but also other employees at 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 (EA) unit, which is located in Stuttgart and falls under the responsibility of the Chairman of the Board of Management. The EA unit shapes the Group’s relations via a global network with offices in Berlin, Brussels, Beijing, Madrid, and Washington as well as corporate representations in our markets. Our aim is to provide content that has been coordinated throughout the Group for the political representation of our interests and to address political and social target groups in a coordinated manner.
The head of the EA unit is a permanent member of the Group Sustainability Board and as such is an active contributor to its work on many sustainability-related topics. 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 our interests. To this end, the unit organizes the meetings of the Governmental Affairs Committees for various Board of Management divisions. At these meetings, which are held several times per year, the Head of External Affairs and other representatives from the unit hold discussions with Board of Management members and other top managers to coordinate the positions and processes that are important for the company. We ensure that the positions taken in the political representation of our interests correspond with the goals and content of Daimler’s sustainable business strategy as well as with our policies and other public statements.
In accordance with our policy, employees at controlled Group companies of the Daimler Group and Daimler AG who represent our interests must register with the External Affairs unit if they are not organizationally under its direction. We recruit new personnel for the EA unit as part of the standardized Daimler human resources processes. Individuals at the EA unit are remunerated at the same rate as employees at the same levels of the hierarchy within other parts of the Group.
EA uses a variety of formats, such as the virtual political dialog at EvoBus Neu-Ulm in November 2020, to ensure the continuous sharing of information between external stakeholders and company representatives. Depending on the format, this task is performed by employees of the EA unit or by colleagues who represent Daimler’s political interests as part of their activities abroad. Managers from the respective locations generally take part as well in order to hold discussions about current topics with social and political leaders.
During the reporting year, the covid-19 pandemic prevented many events from being staged as we had planned.
What we want to achieve
Daimler wishes to take part in political and public opinion-shaping processes as a trustworthy and dependable discussion partner. The overarching goal of our approach here is to harmonize the company’s interests with those of society at large. The specific aim of our discussions with political decision-makers is to achieve greater planning security for Daimler. During the reporting year, we focused on the following issues in particular:
Achieving climate targets and improving air quality
For Daimler, the Paris Agreement on climate protection is more than a commitment, as we fully support the agreed-upon climate protection targets. To this end, we are investing extensively in the development and production of alternative drive systems in line with our motto “Electric First.” To achieve the mobility sector’s climate goals, we need a regulatory framework that is stable over the long term and is not tied to any specific technology. In addition to setting technological CO2 reduction targets and creating incentives for e-mobility, governments should more strongly mobilize market forces for the goal of climate protection. As a result, we support CO2-pricing mechanisms for fuels — either by including the emissions trade or imposing a CO2-based tax.
We would also like to emphasize that a demand-based charging infrastructure is needed for the rapid expansion of electric mobility. For example, highways urgently need to be equipped with fast-charging stations that feature high charging power and a customer-friendly payment system. In addition, enough energy must be made available from renewable sources so that the goal of climate-neutral mobility can be achieved.
Moreover, we are convinced that different drive systems can and must all contribute to decarbonization. We therefore expect that, besides electric mobility, synthetic fuels ( e-fuels) will have a role to play reducing the CO2 emissions of the existing vehicle fleet. Fuel-cell vehicles are another important climate-friendly option. This applies especially to the transportation of loads that require a lot of energy. Fuel cells are particularly well suited for heavy-duty commercial vehicles that run on long-haul routes. Governments should promote the development of these diverse drive systems by means of suitable incentives and taxation systems.
We are committed to improving air quality in cities. We have achieved a great deal in this regard in recent years (fleet renewal, voluntary hardware retrofitting program in cities that are especially affected by pollution, and voluntary software updates for achieving significant NOX reductions).
In addition to these measures, internationally coordinated conditions should be created for improving air quality further. Future vehicle emission regulations should be based on existing and expected air quality issues. Moreover, the methods used to measure emissions must be technologically mature and robust. Industry should therefore be given a sufficient amount of lead time in order to implement these measures.
Making cities more livable
Clean, safe, generally accessible, and affordable mobility is a precondition for a high quality of life in cities. To make this possible, smart systems are needed in order to link all of the transportation systems to one another and coordinate their use. Preferably, each transportation system should be used wherever it offers the most benefits. An important precondition for this is that the public charging infrastructure should be expanded in cities and along main traffic arteries.
Improving traffic safety
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 achieve further improvements in traffic safety by means of automated driving, for example.
Establishing standards for human rights due diligence
For Daimler, respect for human rights is a fundamental component of responsible corporate governance and part of our sustainable business strategy. Our commitment and goal is to ensure that human rights are respected and upheld in all of our Group companies and by our suppliers.
In order to implement our sustainability requirements along the supply chain, we advocate the creation of uniformly accepted standards — ideally at an international level. A statutory regulation can help to create legal certainty and internationally accepted uniform standards. In order to promote fair competition, the regulation should also create equal competitive conditions for everyone in the future. In this way human rights in global value chains can be further strengthened. Moreover, the scope of due diligence obligations must be clearly defined with regard to human rights. Due diligence obligations should be limited to the actual scope of economic influence and juridical authority along the supply chain and value chain in order to ensure that measures are adequate and can be implemented.
Creating transparency with regard to sustainable financing
Daimler supports the goal of sustainable financing in order to promote investments in sustainable growth. A correctly designed taxonomy of sustainable business operations can help to make markets more transparent and guide investments toward sustainable activities.
Solving location-specific issues through dialog
We are in close contact with political and social stakeholders in the vicinity of our plants. Our top priority here is to harmonize the interests of our plants and the concerns of the local stakeholders.
Promoting free and fair trade
As a globally operating company, Daimler promotes free and fair trade. Free trade and investments are key factors for innovation, employment, growth, and prosperity.
Modernizing labor laws
In order to comply with the requirements of digitalization and the transformation of the automotive industry, we advocate modernization of the labor laws. Among other things, they should be adapted to the rising demand for flexible working time models. We consider the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the Core Labour Standards of the International Labour Organization (ILO) to be particularly important for the shaping of labor laws.
How we handle donations to political parties and other political organizations
The entire Board of Management of Daimler AG is required to approve all donations to political parties (regardless of the amount) as well as all donations of €50,000 or more (including taxes) to other organizations. Furthermore, the EA unit has to submit its opinion before any decision can be made. Daimler did not make any financial or non-financial contributions to political parties during the reporting period. This decision was not based on current political or economic events.
We are actively involved in associations and initiatives
In addition to direct dialog with political decision-makers, we are also involved in industrial associations, such as the German Association of the Automotive Industry (VDA). Associations assume a national political responsibility because they express the business interests of a variety of companies or sectors and serve as a point of contact for governments. Here too, we participate in politically relevant debates, such as the discussion of the air quality in German cities and the promotion of sustainable mobility. We are also actively participating in the development of innovative solutions by means of our know-how and our technology. We also maintain regular contact with representatives of civic organizations and other companies. Moreover, we participate in further associations, committees, and sustainability initiatives in addition to the dialogs that we have initiated ourselves.
Daimler has set its own goals for the reduction of CO2 emissions. These are based on the latest findings of climate research regarding the measures that are needed to achieve the targets of the Paris Agreement on climate protection.
We have defined measures with which we intend to attain these goals. We commission an external auditing firm to audit selected objectives and implementation measures. We have also defined a concrete CO2 reduction pathway in accordance with the requirements of the Science Based Targets initiative (SBTi). The SBTi confirmed the pathway’s compliance with the Paris Agreement on climate protection.
Our involvement in this initiative has further underscored our commitment to achieving the climate goals.
Achieving transparency by means of municipal and regional dialogs
We also hold discussions with our stakeholders at the local level. In connection with specific occasions and projects, we address questions, concerns, criticism, and suggestions made by stakeholders and conduct an open-ended dialog with them. We also stage dialog and information events on current topics as part of the further development of our political representation of interests. An example of this is the exchange with NGOs in Berlin.
Another example was the virtual interim results conference of the strategic dialog for the automotive industry in Baden-Württemberg in September 2020. The aim of this meeting was to present the transformation of the automotive sector to a broad audience. Daimler used this opportunity to inform people about the latest trends in training and professional development. In addition, we presented our activities for urban mobility and chatted with virtual visitors. The results of all of our dialog measures are incorporated into decision-making and decision implementation processes at the company.
Experimenting with new dialog formats
In dialog with citizens, politics, economy and NGOs we discussed current topics and jointly worked with them to find answers to social and environmental questions. The focus was on sustainability, electric mobility, digitalization and urbanization, and the impact these issues have on society. Various formats were utilized at different locations in Berlin. These included an internal series of talks on the topic of “Transformation in the New Normal”.
As part of the further development of our political representation of interests we want to engage in a dialog with our stakeholders, who are playing a growing role in an increasingly critically-minded civil society. To this end, we want to cooperate internally as well as externally with new partners who also provide access to new target groups. Exactly this direct engagement with a broader, well-informed and above all interested public is very important to us. At the same time we will be able — and intend to — define topics and initiate discussions both within and outside the company.
The covid-19 pandemic caused the DML events to be held as either safe hybrid formats or entirely in the digital sphere. In 2021 the events will initially be purely digital. Among other things, they will address Daimler’s six strategic areas of action on sustainability.
How we assess the effectiveness of our management approach
The EA 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, the EA unit also regularly submits reports about its activities to the Supervisory Board of Daimler AG.
We would like to address the expectations of our stakeholders in an even more targeted manner in the future. We are therefore developing innovative dialog formats especially with our stakeholders in mind. Furthermore, we are planning to establish additional dialog formats at various international locations, such as Washington, D.C. and Brussels.