WORLD: Ms. Klöckner, the CDU will elect a new boss on Saturday. Recently, the establishment of the Women’s Union on the two presidential candidates Norbert Röttgen and Armin Laschet caused a sensation. Friedrich Merz, on the other hand, does not want to support women. Do the women decide the election of the chairman?
Julia Klöckner: 1001 delegates decide this election, women and men together. Neither women nor men are homogeneous per se. The women’s union has published a picture of the mood of the board.
WORLD: What will it depend on?
Kloeckner: The speech and the idea of how the party and the country are to be run will be decisive. Not just here and today, but tomorrow, the concept for it, is important. I think those 15 minutes are even more important than last time. The conversation with the neighbors, the atmosphere in the hall and the feedback disappear. This whole party congress dynamic is missing. If you have a room in front of you when you speak, you can respond to feedback. Now everyone speaks for himself into a camera to the delegates.
WORLD: In football it is said that without an audience the home advantage would be lost. It’s more balanced. Is that comparable?
Kloeckner: That is well said – and can be applied to the weekend situation.
WORLD: The Union was last able to record a real election victory when it won more women than men in 2013. How do you reach women?
Kloeckner: It will be a turning point when Angela Merkel no longer competes. I don’t think many in the country have even realized that. If you have a woman as a candidate, being woman makes it easier to address women as well. Women in leadership positions embody the promise of advancement opportunities and of “anything is possible”. This automatism will soon no longer exist. You have to address women more directly, pick them up in their everyday lives.
The Corona period has changed the view of what has long been called the compatibility of family and work. For women, too, it is currently not about how they can work part-time more easily in order to be there for the children. Today many work at home and have to organize homeschooling at the same time. You need good nerves, enough space and digital infrastructure.
WORLD: So it is no longer enough to demand a better work-life balance?
Kloeckner: To believe that after Corona things will somehow continue as before? No. It is a new time. Keywords are no longer enough. It takes very specific, individual concepts to improve the situation noticeably and quickly. People have noticed that things can change quickly. Men and women have moved closer together in recent months.
Their worlds have become more similar to each other. The family feeling prevails and no longer the distinction according to gender. We must therefore use our potential as a people’s party and become more aware that if we do not manage to cover a wide range of issues, we will not win.
WORLD: You are the Minister of Agriculture. Has the reputation of the farmers improved as a result of the crisis?
Kloeckner: Yes absolutely. The fact that shelves can sometimes be half empty or even completely empty was a new experience for many consumers. And I don’t mean the toilet paper. Suddenly people are thinking about domestic production again. However, there is often still a long way to go before we can really gain an understanding of today’s modern agriculture.
Especially in the metropolitan areas, where there is hardly any contact with agriculture, we have a wish for a romantic agriculture from back then. That is actually absurd. Many of them have the latest smartphone themselves; you order online via the app or for grocery delivery. At the same time, however, they are looking for a fireplace feel. And the farmer should redeem this. He should happily hop over his yard with three cows and four hens and swing the milk can.
WORLD: Agriculture is much more modern than its image?
Kloeckner: Agriculture is just as digital, and often more modern than other sectors of the economy. This is where desire and reality come together. High-quality food, as people expect today, could not be produced by farmers at all from the romantic imagination and the possibilities of the past. I hold the Greens jointly responsible for maintaining this outdated image.
Because they polarize between the supposedly good little ones and the bad bigger ones. The only difference is that the size of the farm has nothing to do with the type and quality of management. Sustainability is not defined solely in terms of ecology. It is important! But it has to be balanced with the economy and the social question. I want to achieve that. Because farmers too must be able to make a living from their work.
WORLD: Farmers are currently defending themselves against the ruinous price dumping spiral. What has to be done so that more money reaches the farmers?
Kloeckner: The entire chain, from the producer to the distributor to the retailer, has a responsibility. In the long run, nothing is offered that is not bought. There will be hundreds of euros spent on a fancy garden grill and thousands on a new kitchen. But when it comes to groceries, advertising brochures often pay attention to cents. We consumers have a responsibility, but of course not alone!
WORLD: Who do you see still responsible?
Kloeckner: The market concentration of the large grocers is actually a problem, because they face many small farms in agriculture. This is an imbalance that is to the disadvantage of the farmers. That is why I submitted a law that forbids retailers to cancel perishable goods on the day of delivery.
Today the farmer remains seated on his goods, has to pay for the disposal, the storage costs, that is a waste of resources and energy. Many farmers even refuse written contracts, some only pay months after receiving the goods. With the Unfair Commercial Practices Act, I forbid that.
WORLD: You can’t fix everything. Where do you see your limits?
Kloeckner: Companies also have a responsibility for their partners that cannot be prescribed by law. Social market economy is not folklore. As a politician, we rightly do not want to prescribe how the profits are exactly distributed within the value chain. That would be a planned economy. But there are many options between law and letting go.
That is why I have proposed a supplementary code of conduct in which agriculture and trade determine how they want to deal with one another in the future. It is about fair remuneration, for example. If the trade has special requirements that go beyond legal requirements, it must pay the farmers for the additional work accordingly.
Regional foods should be labeled more clearly and better marketed. Long-term and reliable supply relationships are also important. Higher revenues should also benefit the farmers.
WORLD: Seasonal workers will soon be needed again in agriculture. Do you advocate corona tests upon entry?
Kloeckner: There must be no compromises when it comes to health protection. On the one hand, we want to secure harvests. On the other hand, we have to protect our people and those who come to us as best we can. We are in discussion with the Federal Minister of Health about this.
Incidentally, agriculture was not the problem driver last spring, it was exemplary. For example, people worked and lived in permanent teams, and shopping opportunities were set up on the farms to minimize the risk of infection.