Article Tools

Eder: Policy-Makers Have to Make Decisions

Published: April 24, 2014; 10:47 · (Vindobona)

Wolfgang Eder, CEO of Austrian steel manufacturer voestalpine, claims not to have heard anything from the Austrian policy makers after he raised criticizm with regard to the Austrian business location.

Wolfgang Eder considers North America the only usable industrial location for long-term projects. / Picture: © Voestalpine AG

Ahead of the press conference for the groundbreaking of the new plant in Corpus Christi, Texas, Eder called upon the government to decide about taking measures. “I do not make the rules, the policy-makers have to decide after an assessment of the situation,” he said.

In an interview with the German daily “Frankfurter Allgemeine”, Eder criticized the diminishing attractiveness of the Austrian industrial location and the lack of interest in industrial production by the Austrian government. It was not the first time that Eder warned about a decrease in industrial competitiveness.

The new huge plant in Corpus Christi will be established for € 550m. According to Eder, the only usable industrial location for long-term projects is North America. In a few years, voestalpine will have to decide where to continue its operations. At the moment, the Austrian industrial location is far from being attractive, Eder said. Above all, the high tax burden, the high non-wage labor costs and the high energy prices are responsible for the difficult frame conditions.

A decision on where to relocate has not been made yet by the CEO. However, he stressed that his announcements were “indications” to the Austrian policy-makers. According to Eder, it was now up to the Austrian government. “I gave the indication that, if it will continue like this, it could very well be that we have to question investments in the year 2025 in Linz [voestalpine’s main production site and location of headquarters], which we will have to make the decision about in 2020 already.” Eder underlined that over the past years there had been a tendency that business decisions “in favor of the existing locations in Europe” have become more difficult. “Now it is still time to counteract,” voestalpine’s CEO said.

The investment decision by the steel manufacturer concerns the building of new furnace burners in Linz, which have to be established until the year 2025. However, it is not forseeable yet which framework conditions there will be in Europe and in Austria. In reference to the climate and environment policy, Eder therefore calls upon the EU Commission to create “clear framework conditions, as the most important decisions are made in Brussels.”

Reinhard Mitterlehner, Austrian Economy Minister, showed understanding for the corporate managers like Eder and OMV’s Gerhard Roiss, who have raised harsh criticizm about the business location. In an interview with Austrian daily “Presse” Mitterlehner expressed his support particularly for banking instutes, which have defended themselves from a double burden by both the Austrian and future EU bank levy. “We have to draw attention to the problem. In the long run we will not be able to have both to this extend,” he said.

Moreover, Mitterlehner intends to tackle the demands by the industrial sector to decrease the non-wage labor costs and break down bureaucratical hurdles.